In order to figure out a possible Infrastructure that is easily relatable to the Networks of Cyber-Infrastructure, I decided to look at something that was similar to a Computer Network, not necessarily closer in structure from the other examples, but similar in circumstance. I ended up choosing the Interstate Highway System. On a basic level, it’s unremarkable from other similar networks such as the Autobahn and other such National Highways. Furthermore, it isn’t much different from the basic concept of a highway to the point that it often is branched off into smaller state highways which can then branch off into country roads. It is similar to large computer networks which can also branch off into smaller, more specified, yet similarly structured, networks. With large entities controlling the larger aspects and then branching off into smaller aspects controlled by smaller entities.
It is quite easy to make the comparison but what are the components and how do they compare with those of a computer network? The network itself are the cities and towns which are located next to the highway, they could be considered the servers of the network, where the essential resources which are the basis of the network exist. The road material assembled according to safety standards into a functional freeway, is merely the wiring or wireless signal which connects the Servers, or municipalities together.
The application program is the person using the service. When a program is applied on a server, it does work on that server. When a person goes to a different town, they do work in that town. (work can mean participating in a town’s activities) In other words, the network operates when a person uses the roads to go to a different municipality.
The Middleware needs to allow people to use the highway (wires) to go from one town to another. This would require automobiles and things which service automobiles. Therefore, Cars and Motorcycles would count as middleware, as would gas stations. Motels, Rest Stops and Restaurants allow for the people who are traveling to maintain their composure so that they can travel without glitches, that is, crashing. There is even technical support offered by AAA.
All of these services cost money with the exception of the Road itself (Unless you consider taxes) but are so essential to our way of life that they get taken for granted. Which is another sign that it can be considered infrastructure.
But cars are Middleware in the sense that it allows us to apply ourselves in different places. It is like a software which allows us to run an application in different locations. Therefore, Cars make a good non-IT example of Middleware. However, like most software, it needs to be constantly modified to meet EPA and Safety Regulations and must be made more efficient in order to increase it’s competitive advantage in the marketplace. These are challenges that both Software and Automobiles face and is an important concern when it comes to the rise of the Fourth Paradigm. How can this virtual automobile Increase it’s millage? How can this virtual automobile be safer? etc…