Sunday, October 24, 2010

Network as Super Operating System

It is unarguable that today a lot of developed applications are web enabled. Furthermore, more and more offered services are in the cloud, distributed or network aware. Examples to that trend are Google Apps which is “Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google.” (Wikipedia, n.d.), Amazon Web Services which provide cloud based services such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Relational Database Service, Amazon Simple Storage Service and Alexa Web Information Service. Another example is a Cloud OS which is according to Good OS (2010) “is a web browser plus operating system, enabling the browser to perform everything that the desktop is able to perform”. The extend of offered services is much more that only technology based services as it is demonstrated by Amazon Mechanical Turk which “enables companies to programmatically access this marketplace and a diverse, on-demand workforce”. Those services, as countless others, are based on the standard and mature protocols such as SOAP, HTTP and XML which allow interoperability between different operating systems and web browsers, making heterogeneous environment not an operational issues. But can the network be seen as a super operating system?
The main obstacle of network as a “true operating system” is the fact that network itself is everywhere and all the time. For example, recent (June 30, 2010) statistic published by the by Miniwatts Marketing Group. (2010) shows that although 77.4 percent of population in North America are using Internet, only 10.9 percent of Africa population and 21.5 percent of Asia population have available Internet access. In total, less then a third (only 28.7 percent) of the world population are using Internet in one way or another.
It is can not be denied that the world is moving towards network enabled, distributed services. Increasing availability of the Internet in the developed countries, technological innovations and lowering cost of personal computers drive further the penetration of the network for personal and corporate usage. According to Miniwatts Marketing Group. (2010), the grows of total Internet users is a staggering 2,357.3 percent in Africa, 1,825.3 percent in the Middle East and 1,032.8 percent in Latin America. Regardless, at the moment the network can not be seen as a super operating system simply because it is not accessible to the large majority of the world population.
According to Brookshear (2007) “an operating system is the software that controls the overall operation of a computer” which allows users to interact with preferential devices and external environment via set of drivers, utilities and applications. The network, could be seen as a information exchange media, connecting a single instance of operating system and the user to the external environment such as the Intranet and Internet. To some degree, network can be substituted with different information exchange methods such as removable media (CD, DVD, etc.) and paper printouts, and in many cases those would be the only available methods to exchange information.


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