Science & Technology in Action

6th Edition

Computers In The Cloud

Ordnance Survey Ireland

This lesson describes how the Internet has facilitated the evolution of innovative IT services such as cloud computing. The concept of shared resources is discussed and its principal advantages and some of its potential problems are outlined.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

What Will Be The Shape Of Computers To Come?
Daily we have ever greater computing power in our desktop and laptop computers. There has been a corresponding evolution in software applications such as word processing and desktop publishing. Now, as a result of the increasing availability of fastinternet access, we are witnessing a new development in which data files and computer applications are stored remotely. For example, using only an Internet browser the user can write text or record and edit music. The Internet facilitates:

  • virtualisation
  • distributed systems
  • clustering
  • grid computing
  • and cloud computing.

Each of these terms reflects a method of sharing a resource between users as an alternative to having a dedicated resource of their own. In this lesson we will look at what is meant by each of these and will examine the issues associated with the cloud computing.

How Did We Get Here?
The last century saw amazing advances in computers particularly since the invention of the silicon transistor (1954) Using smalltransistors instead of large vacuum tubes the basic electronic building blocks of computers could be made much smaller. In 1959 the first integrated circuits were made and they soon began to replace some processing elements. By the early 1970s it was possible to make a central processing unit (CPU) in a singleintegrated circuit.

In the decades since then computing power has increased dramatically. Parallel developments took place in telecommunications; fibre optics and data compressionincreased the speed and efficiency of data transfer.

Quiz questions

  1. The Cloud is a single large computer accessed over the Internet. false
  2. The internet provides the user with a dedicated line to a central computer. false
  3. Traditionally terminals were connected to mainframes by dedicated lines. true
  4. Virtual systems make use of capacity which would be otherwise unused. true
  5. Virtual networks are less prone to breakdown than fixed lines. true
  6. Virtual data storage capacity is more secure than dedicated capacity. false
  7. A billion is a thousand million. true
  8. There are a thousand megabytes in a terabyte. false
  9. There is very little use for mainframe computers today. false
  10. Standard word processing software must be directly installed on each computer. true