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Chapter 5

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Scott Paquette

Chapter 5: IT Infrastructure and Emerging Technologies IT Infrastructure  The shared technology resources that provide the platform for the firm’s specific information system applications.  Includes investment in hardware, software, and services, such as consulting, education, and training.  Defining IT infrastructure: o Set of physical devices and software required to operate enterprise o Set of firm wide services including:  Computing platforms providing computing services  Telecommunications services  Data management services  Application software services  Physical facilities management services  IT management, standards, education, research and development services o “Service platform” perspective more accurate view of value of investments  The real value of a PC is more apparent with knowing who will use it and how it will be used Evolution of IT Infrastructure  Reviewing the evolution of corporate IT infrastructure can offer some insight into where we are headed.  Each of the following five stages represents a different configuration of computing power and infrastructure elements.  General-Purpose Mainframe o Highly centralized computing with networks of terminals o Provide time sharing, multi-tasking, virtual memory o The first airline reservation system appeared in 1959 o Most elements of the infrastructure provided by a single vendor o IBM dominates mainframe computing  Minicomputer o Produced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1965 o Part of computing power shifted to terminals, making possible decentralized computing o Customized to the needs of individual departments or business units (without the need for time sharing on a single mainframe) o Far lower prices than IBM mainframes 1  Personal Computer o Introduction of IBM PC in 1981 marks the beginning of this era o IBM PC, the first to be widely adopted by U.S. businesses o The standard desktop PC, Wintel (Windows Operating System on an Intel microprocessor) o PCs made possible the use of personal desktop software tools such as word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc. o PCs were stand-alone systems until operating system software in the 1990s made it possible to link them into networks  Client Server o Client is the user point of entry: Desktop or Laptop o Server is a powerful computer that typically processes and stores shared data, serves up Web pages, or manages network activities o Work is split between the two o The simplest client/server network consists of a client networked to a server: Two-tiered client/server architecture  Multitier (N-tier) client/server architecture o The work of the entire network is balanced over several different levels of servers o Advantage: enables businesses to distribute computing work across a series of smaller, less expensive machines  Enterprise/Internet o Integrates disparate networks and applications throughout the firm into an enterprise- wide infrastructure o Uses networking standards such as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) o Information can flow freely across the organization and between the firm and other organizations 2  Cloud Computing o Firms and individuals obtain computing power and software applications over the Internet, rather than purchasing their own hardware and software o Requires high Internet bandwidth o Currently the fastest growing form of computing o Example: Google Apps (a suite of Internet based desktop software such as word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) Technology Drivers of Infrastructure Evolution  Micro processing Power o Moore’s law and micro processing power o Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel in 1965: “Since the first microprocessor was introduced in 1959, the number of transistors on a chip with the smallest manufacturing costs per transistor has doubled each year” o The law has evolved and has been interpreted as:  The power of microprocessors doubles every 18 months  Computing power doubles every 18 months  The price of computing falls by half every 18 months  Mass Digital Storage o The Law of Mass Digital Storage o PC hard drive capacity has increased over the years o Number of kilobytes that can be stored on magnetic disks for one dollar, doubling every 15 months  Network Economics o Metcalfe’s Law and Network Economics o The value of a network grows exponentially as a function of the number of network members o The changing social and business values demand more links among network members, thus requiring more processing power and storage capacity  Declining communications costs and the Internet o As the costs fall toward a small number, utilization of communication and computing facilities explode 3  Standards, Common Tools and Network Effects o Agreements among manufacturers and consumer acceptance of technology standards o Enables the connection of various members of a network o Technology standards unleash powerful economies of sale and result in lower prices o Manufacturers focus on the products built into a single standard o Some important standards in Computing  American Standard Code of Information Interchange (ASCII) (1958)  Enables various computers to exchange data  Used as the universal language linking input and output devices to computers  Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) (1959)  language for writing business-related programs  Unix (1969-1975)  A powerful multi-tasking, multi-user, portable operating system  Operates on a wide variety of computers from different manufacturers  Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) (1974)  A suite of communications protocols and a common addressing scheme  Enables millions of computers to connect in one giant network  Ethernet (1973)  A network standard for connecting desktop computers  Enables client/server architecture  IBM/Microsoft/Intel Personal Computer (1981)  The Wintel Standard  World Wide Web (1989-1993)  Standards for storing, retrieving, formatting, and displaying information as a web of electronic pages Infrastructure Components Computer Hardware: Microprocessor, the heart of any Computing device  Client machines (desktops, laptops, and PDAs): Primarily Intel or AMD processors  Server machines: Intel, AMD, Sun, IBM o Blade servers: Ultra-thin, Intended for a single dedicated application o Server Farms: A collection of servers  Mainframes systems used as giant servers for enterprise networks Operating System: tell computers what o do, when to do it, and how  Microsoft Windows dominates the market of client and server machine software  Unix or Linux widely used as server software o Scalable o Reliable o Less expensive 4 o Run on different processors o Linux available as open-source software Enterprise Software Applications: Integrate applications into seamless processes across the organization  Largest suppliers of enterprise software are o SAP o Oracle o PeopleSoft (acquired by Oracle) o Microsoft is aiming Small and Medium Enterprises  Switching from a vendor can be difficult and costly Data Management and Storage: provide easy access to data, provide meaningful information to the organization  Database software: Organizing and managing firm’s data so it can be efficiently used o IBM (DB2), Oracle, Microsoft (SQL Server), Sybase (Adaptive Server Enterprise), MySQL  Physical data storage: EMC Corp (large-scale systems), Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital  Storage area networks (SANs): connect multiple storage devices on dedicated network Networking/Telecommunications: are merging into one  Leading network hardware providers are Cisco, Lucent, and Juniper  Software leaders are Microsoft, Linux, and Unix  Service vendors include Bell Canada, Primus, and regional carriers: Offer voice, data connectivity, internet access, etc.  Growth of wireless and Voice over IP (VoIP) Consulting and system integration services: to keep up with changes  Even large firms do not have resources for full range of support for new, complex infrastructure  Software in
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