Improving the nation's primary and secondary school infrastructure to prepare our kids for the 21st century economy is a critical element of our country's success. As it turns out, a well funded and thought out initiative is underway and we are a big part of enabling the first of these schools of the future to become reality, not here in America, but across the pond in the United Kingdom. From classrooms without walls and building without halls (to cut down on the bullies), the software infrastructure to enable a teacher to enter a teaching environment, insert their smart card, and the plasma screens and inter-active whiteboards alight with their topic and lesson materials is now quickly moving towards reality. The central principles from Sun which led to our leadership revolve around an architecture defined at four layers:
- Presentation Layer : Sun has the capability of offering complete mobile desktop environments and client agnostic applications. This is very desirable because it protects current investment in client devices as well as opening the door for modern ultra thin technologies. It also creates a secure environment that begins with the client.
- Services Layer : Services containers provide particular components to an overall solution they can either be an standalone application with a service wrapper or it could be a program directly written to be use in a service oriented environment. The integration framework and management software connects all the services and manages interaction between them. By abstracting applications from the core infrastructure Sun can optimize the Data center environment and ensure the best environment in term of cost, efficiency, performance, etc.
- Core Infrastructure : At the heart of the core infrastructure is the identity management system which centrally manages access, authorization, provisioning for all applications . It also manages identities and access for the outside world. For those application that take advantage of the abstraction of the OS, the application servers provides the ideal platform to run the applications. If not Solaris 10 is the preferred platform although Windows and Linux are also supported.
We'll share many of the architecture components and projects in Education Commons starting at Educause 2006.
- Data Layer : With native support for most file systems and databases a level of abstraction is required to provide application level independence. If I change the application can I easily use the data. Open Standards are critical in this layer to ensure data exchange. Also , optimized environments can be created to offer enterprise level availability and optimization of the entire storage subsystem.