Which rapidly multiply the number of actual and

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which rapidly multiply the number of actual and potential links among network members. C H A P T E R 4 : L e a r n i n g T r a c k 3 3 FIGURE 4-5 Examples of nanotubes. Nanotubes are tiny tubes about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. They consist of rolled up sheets of carbon hexa- gons. Discovered in 1991 by researchers at NEC, they have the potential uses as minuscule wires or in ultrasmall electronic devices and are very powerful conductors of electrical current.
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C H A P T E R 4 : L e a r n i n g T r a c k 3 4 FIGURE 4-6 The capacity of hard disk drives grows exponentially, 1980–2004. From 1980 to 1990, hard disk drive capacities for PCs grew at the rate of 25 percent annual compound growth, but after 1990 growth accelerated to more than 65 percent each year. Source: Authors. FIGURE 4-7 The cost of storing data declines exponentially, 1950–2004. Since the first magnetic storage device was used in 1955, the cost of storing a kilobyte of data has fallen exponentially, doubling the amount of digital storage for each dollar expend- ed every 15 months on average. Source: ”Exponential Growth an Illusion?: Response to Ilkka Tuomi,” by Ray Kurzweil, KurzweilAI.net, September 23, 2003. Used with permission.
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DECLINING COMMUNICATIONS COSTS AND THE INTERNET A fourth technology driver transforming IT infrastructure is the rapid decline in the costs of communication and the exponential growth in the size of the Internet. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide now have Internet access, and over 250 million Web host com- puters exist in the United States. Figure 4-8 illustrates the exponentially declining cost of communication both over the Internet and over telephone networks (which increas- ingly are based on the Internet). As communication costs fall toward a very small num- ber and approach 0, utilization of communication and computing facilities explodes. To take advantage of the business value associated with the Internet, firms must great- ly expand their Internet connections, including wireless connectivity, and greatly expand the power of their client/server networks, desktop clients, and mobile computing devices. There is every reason to believe these trends will continue. STANDARDS AND NETWORK EFFECTS Today’s enterprise infrastructure and Internet computing would be impossible—both now and in the future—without agreements among manufacturers and widespread con- sumer acceptance of technology standards. Technology standards are specifications that establish the compatibility of products and the ability to communicate in a network (Stango, 2004). Technology standards unleash powerful economies of scale and result in price declines as manufacturers focus on the products built to a single standard. Without these economies of scale, computing of any sort would be far more expensive than is current- ly the case. Table 4-2 describes some important standards that have shaped IT infra- structure. Beginning in the 1990s, corporations started moving toward standard computing and communications platforms. The Wintel PC with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office desktop productivity applications became the standard desktop and mobile client computing platform. Widespread adoption of Unix as the enterprise serv-
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