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6.1 Cloud computing



Unit 6.1 Cloud computing
Unit 6.2 Virtual Reality (VR)
Unit 6.3 Augmented Reality (AR)
Unit 6.4 Virtualisation

image Learning outcomes

At the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • describe cloud computing and its effects on hardware needs, explain software as a Service (advantages and ownership of data).
  • describe virtual reality, hardware and software requirements and advantages and limitations
  • describe augmented reality, hardware and software requirements and advantages and limitations
  • describe virtualisation, its uses and benefits


Software means computer Instructions or data in the form of operating systems, utilities, programs, and applications that enable computers to work.

Software can be categorized as systems software or applications software. System software is a specific type of software that manages a computing device and comprises of:

  • the operating system that manages hardware, software and other applications on a computing device. Functions of the operating system is grouped into: hardware management, I/O management, process manamement, file management and memory management.
  • utility programs that adds functionality to your computer and helps your computer perform better. These include antivirus, backup, disk repair, file management, security, and networking programs.
  • device drivers (software program) that controls a particular type of hardware device that is attached to a computer.

Application software is a program or group of programs designed for end-users. Applications software include database programs, word processors, web browsers, spreadsheets, and so on.

Software is becoming smarter, easier to use and better at helping humans than ever before. Due to rapid improvements and various developments in computer software (cloud computing, virtual reality, augmented reality and virtualisation), software is able to do many of the tasks previously left to humans more reliably and at higher quality, and this include complex tasks like driving a car, diagnosing cancer or creating legal briefs etc.

6.1 Cloud computing

Cloud computing refers to the process in which computers on the Internet (rather than local computers) are used to store, manage and process data.

Cloud computing can also be used to run applications (or services) on the Internet like Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office 365. Cloud computing has made it easier and cheaper to host a website with 100% uptime.

Cloud computing offers several significant advantages to users:

  • Scalable: Cloud computing is perfectly scalable, which means that the capacity of your virtual machine will grow automatically as your requirements increase.
  • Affordable: A single virtual machine is affordable, and it only becomes expensive once you need to rent large numbers of virtual machines.
  • Reliable: Many cloud computing companies guarantee that the machine will be available to users always.
  • Fast: Cloud computers and the Internet connection to these computers can be incredibly fast.
  • Maintained: The servers used for cloud computing are maintained by an expert team who ensure they continue running efficiently.

Thanks to these advantages, most websites and web applications make use of cloud computers to host their websites.

Each client only pays for the small part of the server they need.

Figure 6.1: Data centres can contain hundreds of powerful servers


Cloud computing infrastructure includes server hardware and software, storage, networking, adequate cooling and security for access control. This can be quite expensive to set up and maintain. Nowadays most businesses are moving the support and administration of servers to the cloud as cloud servers are available anywhere there is an Internet connection.

The virtual servers are built on large hardware platforms so that they can scale up or down quickly. This is helpful for businesses whos computing infrastructures changes frequently.


Businesses are becoming more reliant on cloud-based resources and less dependent on traditional IT hardware and software assets. Businesses employ a hosting provider to manage the hardware and they can focus on the software.

In the past companies ran multiple operating systems on virtual machines and the servers were often used at 20% to 30% of capacity. Recently with cloud computing, on-premise hardware will share computing power with a cloud computing service provider for a monthly subscription fee. This results in companies doubling the amount of capacity they get with their hardware. Therefore, there is less need for the purchasing of new servers and hardware.

One negative effect is downtime. For example, when businesses maintain their servers, it causes the system to be out of action or unavailable for use.


SaaS (or Software as a Service) refers to applications that are hosted on the cloud and that users pay a monthly subscription to access. As the name suggests, SaaS is based on the idea that many software applications present a service to users. This service might be to provide entertainment, increase productivity or improve communication.

With SaaS, applications are run on cloud computers and users access these applications through their web browsers, without any of the applications being installed on their local computer. This works by a cloud computer in the background performing all the tasks and simply showing the user interface in the web browser.

Advantages of SAAS

  • minimal setup required.
  • minimal initial cost.
  • software is updated automatically on the cloud computers.
  • new features are regularly added.
  • can be used from any computer with an Internet connection.
  • easier to collaborate or share information with other users.

image Case Study Microsoft Office 2019 vs Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is a service that users subscribe to. Every month or year, users pay a small subscription fee (between 3% and 5% of Microsoft Office price). Once subscribed, users can download and install all the same Microsoft Office applications on their computer and between 2 and 5 other devices, use the online versions of the applications through their web browser, and store up to 1 TB of files on Microsoft OneDrive.

Figure 6.2: Word 365 can be used as a web application

Users who are subscribed to Office 365 are given access to the newest version of Microsoft Office.

The online versions of Office 365 make use of cloud computers to run the software applications, and these computers are paid for using a part of the users’ monthly subscription fees.

It is important to note that, with SaaS, the subscriber does not own the software, he or she is simply renting it. As a result, once the SaaS subscriber stops paying their subscription fee, they lose access to the software. The subscriber does, however, own any work created using the software even if this information is stored on a cloud service.

image Activity 6.1 Cloud computing

6.1.1List the advantages cloud computing has for its users.

6.1.2Create a debate for and against cloud computing. Include the effects on hardware and advantages or disadvantages on businesses

6.1.3Itumeleng is a young writer who recently started working for a large newspaper. On the first day of work, he received a work laptop that he could use to write articles for the newspaper. According to his supervisor, the company has recently started using cloud applications for most of their work, especially for the work of writers and editors.
Based on this information, answer the following questions.

a.Explain in your own words what SaaS is.

b.Besides Office 365, research and give two examples of SaaS (software as a service).

c.What software do you need to have installed to use SaaS?

d.What are three advantages for a company to use SaaS over a normal software application?

6.2 Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software. It is computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment. This is presented to the user in such a way that the user believes and accepts it as a real environment and becomes completely immersed in that world and shuts out the physical world. It is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound.

  • Gaming: use of virtual reality application and virtual worlds.
  • Military: used for training simulation so soldiers can train for combat situations.
  • Education: so that large groups of students can interact in a virtual classroom with supporting data.
  • Healthcare: used for doctors and nurses to learn new skills e.g. surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training.
  • Entertainment: for example, interactive theme parks, virtual museums and theatre.
  • Fashion: for example, avatars are used to help with clothing design and virtual stores can be created.
  • Heritage: for example, visitor centres like the Terracotta Army are being created in a virtual world so that the site can be protected from tourism.
  • Business: to train new employers and provide virtual tours of the business environment.
  • Engineering: engineers can view their project virtually to understand how it works, to spot any flaws or potential risks before implementation.
  • Sport: to measure and analyse athletic performance.
  • Media: virtual reality is used in producing more realistic films.
  • Scientific Visualisation: uses computer graphics to show abstract or complex ideas to show scientific concepts, like molecular models.
  • Telecommunications: especially with smartphones.

The hardware needed for virtual reality includes:

  • Personal Computer (PC)/Console/Smartphone are used to process and power the inputs and outputs sequentially.
  • Input devices lets users navigate and interact within a VR environment e.g. joysticks, force Balls/Tracking balls, controller wands, data gloves, trackpads, On-device control buttons, motion trackers, bodysuits, treadmills and motion platforms (virtual omni).
  • Output devices present the VR content or environment to the users and includes visual, auditory or haptic displays.

Software manages the I/O devices, analyses incoming data and generates proper feedback. Virtual reality is time-critical and software must manage it. Input data and the system response that is sent to the output displays must be prompt in order not to destroy the feeling of immersion.


There are many advantages to using virtual reality mainly that it can be used as a training tool in many areas of life and can provide remote access e.g. surgery can be performed in remote locations using robotic technology and virtual reality. It provides learning experiences that one cannot get from reading books as it immerses you in that world. This makes learning fun and can eliminate the language barrier and certain dangers associated with scientific experiments. This makes virtual reality a very convenient tool to connect people around the world.


The software for virtual reality is limited and in some cases inflexible as it cannot go out of that scope,
It cannot simulate a real classroom where learning fluctuates,
Virtual reality can be addictive and detrimental to social connections as it is not real-life, only an imaginary world.

image Activity 6.2

6.2.1Complete the table on Virtual Reality.


6.2.2Read the following article on VR headsets https://www.pcmag.com/article/342537/the-best-virtual-reality-vr-headsets. Discuss the different types of headsets. Which headset do you prefer? Explain.

6.2.3Explore this site, the best VR YouTube videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzuqhhs6NWbgTzMuM09WKDQ. What impressed you the most about VR? Which was your favourite video and why? Explain how the VR videos could benefit society.

6.3 Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality technology superimposes a computer-generated image onto a user’s view of the real world. It provides a composite 3D view that provides full immersion. AR can be experienced through headsets that people wear and through displays on mobile devices.


AR apps, headsets, and smart glasses add value to virtually every industry – from retail to industrial manufacturing. AR has the potential to solve some of the biggest problems.

Initially PC, smartphone and tablet applications for augmented reality focused on games, but the uses of AR has extended far and wide. Listed below are a few uses of AR technology:

  • Product view - Allows customers to view and interact with products or services before purchasing.
  • Enhance content - Allows users to embed various types of data onto content. People can point their device at a real-life object to learn whatever kind of information is necessary, instead of needing to search for it elsewhere.
  • Training - AR enables users to train employees more thoroughly than they can through documentation and meetings. This software allows for trainees to learn job responsibilities by fully visualizing them, instead of just reading about job duties.
  • Productivity - This software enables users to improve workflow and processes at their business. Factory line workers can spot potential dangers quicker.
  • Engage your audience - People are inundated with print and television advertisements to the point where they don’t pay much attention to them. Inserting augmented reality into advertisements will catch the eye of your target demographic.


Hardware requirements for augmented reality include:

  • battery life
  • bluetooth connectivity/Wi-Fi
  • field of view in 3D view
  • on board storage capacity
  • on board OS/Web Browser
  • inputs/outputs (button, eye tracking, accelerometer)
  • microphone
  • sound capacity
  • display capacity
  • visual tracking

Software requirements for augmented reality include:

  • AR software works in conjunction with devices such as tablets, phones, headsets, and more. These integrating devices contain sensors, digital projectors, and hence require:
    • appropriate software that enables computer-generated objects to be projected into the real world.
    • on-board operating system and user interface to support the software
    • web Browser
    • authoring to allow the user to use API links to other databases and websites to display information.


Some of the advantages to augmented reality are:

  • to get or enhance creativity
  • provide a new product experience
  • able to preview the product visually
  • build real-time data experiences
  • enjoy experiential experiences
  • functional uses demo


Some of Augmented Reality’s limitations include:

  • rendering digital data into meaningful graphics
  • scaling digital data to be suitable with the perspective of the visual field
  • in smartphones, AR must work with limited storage, small processing power and small amount of memory.

image Activity 6.3

6.3.1Explain the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality.

6.3.2Complete the table on Augmented Reality.


6.3.3How can Augmented Reality help a business with marketing?

6.3.4How will Augmented Reality change in the future?

6.3.5Research and explain what a business will need to set up augmented reality for their advertising?

6.4 Virtualisation

Virtualisation refers to running multiple computing environments (called virtual machines) on a single set of hardware.

Did you know

Even though they are often mentioned together, virtualisation is different from cloud computing. Virtualisation is the software that allows you to create hundreds of virtual machines on a single virtual server, while cloud computing is the service that uses virtualisation to rent out small parts of a server. Virtualisation is therefore the software, while cloud computing is the product sold to consumers.

On very old operating systems, you could only load and run one program into the computer’s memory at a time! However, modern processing techniques allow you to use your CPU more effectively. These processing techniques are:

  • Multitasking: With multitasking, a single processor splits its time between different processes.
  • Multithreading: Multithreading completes the instructions for multiple different tasks inside the same program (called threads) by quickly switching between them.
  • Multiprocessing: Multiprocessing uses many processors to complete tasks.

These techniques are heavily used in virtualisation, where a single computer can be broken into many ‘virtual machines’. Each virtual machine is allocated its own CPU, RAM and storage space and are treated in the same way as a real computer. This means that each virtual machine must have its own operating system and its own applications installed, and that the different virtual machines do not have access to the main computer or any of the other virtual machines.


Animation showing how a single data centre server is broken into small pieces, with each of these pieces connecting to a different user on the Internet. The goal is to show how cloud computing works by breaking servers into hundreds of smaller virtual machines.



Virtualisation has many different uses, including testing different operating systems and software, cloning computers, hosting cloud applications and allow multiple people to use the same computer at the same time.

  • Less expenditure: servers, storage and desktops, virtualisation can release assets, saving in capital and operational expenditure. It can reduce the number of software licences that are needed.
  • Save assets: server virtualisation supports multiple applications to operate on a single physical server, enabling the same assets to be better utilised.
  • Disaster recovery: options include building in high availability and disaster recovery processes without replicating everything. The automation embedded in virtualisation tools supports management processes. It does not replace them. After all, if systems fail, administrators rely on management tools to identify where the problems are.
  • Green IT: with fewer server and storage resources, the demand for power and cooling can be reduced and there will be fewer units to dispose of.
  • Long-term benefits: virtualisation starts to change the basic infrastructure, saving money and establishing a new foundation for on-going developments. The IT team can show it has answers to help reduce operating costs and show how every employee can make a contribution to reducing greenhouse gases.

image Activity 6.4

6.4.1Choose the correct answer.

a.The following techniques are used in virtualisation:




D.All of the above

b.This completes the instructions for multiple different tasks inside the same program (called threads) by quickly switching between them.




D.None of the above

c.It uses multiple processors to complete tasks.




D.None of the above

d.The difference between virtualisation and cloud computing is:

A.Cloud computing is the software, while virtualisation is the product sold to consumers

B.Virtualisation is the software, while cloud computing is the product sold to consumers

C.Virtualisation is the software, while cloud computing is based on the idea that many software applications present a service to users.

D.None of the above.

e.Virtualisation is one of the core technologies used in_____.

6.4.2List at least THREE uses of virtualisation.


1.Create two groups to debate which is better Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality.

2.  a.Complete the table by giving an example for each field.


b.Compare the uses of Virtual and Augmented Reality.