What is the Internet Architecture and what is the significance?
To begin, Internet Architecture means that hardware, software and networks are designed to use the standards and techniques of the Internet. These include some strange sounding things such as Internet Protocol (IP), Browser, Hyperlink, Web Server, Web Pages, application Server, Data base server, Firewall, virtual machine, virtual office and on and on. In the Internet architecture, systems are available 24/7/365 from any place at any time. (See Internet Architecture Graphic) The Internet Protocol can address a file, a machine, an application, a camera, etc, anywhere in the world. The browser understands the language of the Internet and the language of the machine on which it resides. Therefore, any machine running a browser, can execute Internet applications.
How does all of this work?
A client (user) enters an IP address that goes to a web server and opens a page. Once the page is open, there could be a whole series of authentication procedures to identify the user and the rights of the user. Then the client uses hyperlinks to jump from place to place until he is at the page that will execute the appropriate application. Depending on what the client is authorized to do, the web server will execute a program on an application server which in turn will manipulate data, as authorized, on a data base server and bring a result back to the page where the client is working. Users inside and outside of the "firewall" (the device that blocks unauthorized users) work through web server sessions. The web server determines the authorized functions to be performed and instructs the application server. The application server manipulates the data in the data base server and returns the result to the client through the web server. No user ever interacts directly with data. No user ever sees directories or file addresses.
The great significance of this architecture is that systems can be executed at anytime from anyplace. This makes global electronic commerce possible and begins to bring about fundamental change in the way global society functions. The concept of "Virtuality" begins to grow, e.g., the virtual office, school, team, market, shopping mall and on and on. People collaborate with others around the world, without leaving home.