The computing systems that support any large enterprise now use concurrency and distribution. In this module, you’ll look at the theory and practice of developing such systems, and learn about the advanced use of Java – such as Java’s concurrency features and the layered approach for building large enterprise systems – using Java Enterprise Edition as a practical illustration. You’ll also examine heterogeneous and mobile systems and security. The module uses examples, from simple stand-alone systems, distributed systems with web access, and online auction systems. You should be familiar with Java 5.0, perhaps by successfully completing Putting Java to work (M257).
What you will study
How is it possible that computer systems appear to be able to do many things at the same time? When working on my PC, how is it possible that I can seamlessly switch from one activity to another? How can a web server respond to huge numbers of clients simultaneously, without getting everyone’s details in a muddle?
These are the sorts of questions addressed in this module where you will study the topic of concurrency, i.e. a number of tasks in the process of being executed at the same time, and the topic of distribution such as we may find in internet applications. You’ll study the theory and practice of developing such systems, using a combination of written study materials and programming activities using Java and the NetBeans Java IDE. You will carry out practical work using the industry standard Java EE framework for large enterprise systems. This should provide a sound basis for further study, potentially leading to industry certification in this area. Occasionally we’ll ask you to do some further research by yourself.
This module will be valuable to anyone who wants to understand how concurrent distributed systems work. This is an area of software engineering that is changing rapidly, with new technologies emerging (and fashions changing) all the time, and this module will help you understand how things work ‘under the hood’. This should give you a good foundation to work from, whether you go on to be part of a team implementing and putting together such a system, or whether your role is to be able to communicate with others about such systems and to make professional judgements.
The module consists of three parts.
The first part of the module concentrates on the study of concurrency. We study the concept of a process and how processes communicate. Before you start this module, you should have a good working knowledge of Java so that you can further build on this by studying threading and Java’s concurrency mechanisms.
In the second part, you concentrate on distribution issues, and use the example of the Java Enterprise framework for large enterprise systems. Distributed systems consist of a number of different parts, each with their own functionality and their own set of problems. The module looks at the various parts and explains the techniques available for dealing with them, including Java servlets, JSP and Enterprise Java Beans. You’ll also study how the communication is organised and consider some of the security concerns that are important to distributed systems.
In the final part of the module you’ll look at how to deal with heterogeneous systems and at the .NET framework. You’ll also briefly investigate mobile systems and look at future developments that are likely to be relevant for concurrent distributed systems.
Throughout the module you’ll study the development of systems, moving from simple stand-alone systems, to distributed systems with web access, to online auction systems. You’ll work initially on very simple scenarios, progressing to more complex and realistic scenarios by the end of the module.
As you study the module, you will be using email, online forums and the World Wide Web for communication with the University, your tutor and other students.
If you are considering progressing to The computing and IT project (TM470), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.
This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended for students who have studied with the OU before in a related subject. You must be familiar with programming in Java (such as can be gained from studying Putting Java to work (M257)). It assumes the ability to create and amend Java applications that involve:
interfaces and abstract classes, polymorphism, packages and access modifiers
graphical user interface components, event handling techniques, and the use of exceptions
the use of Java APIs, such as the Collections package.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.
M362 is an optional module in our:
It can also count towards most of our other degrees at bachelors level, where it is equally appropriate to a BA or BSc. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.
Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service before registering.
If you have a disability
Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Descriptions of diagrams and figures are available. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.
This module uses the software package NetBeans which uses a graphical interface. Much of the software can instead be run from a command line although there are some practical exercises that require the ability to analyse visual information that appears on a computer screen. If you use special hardware or software you must, well before the module begins, find out whether it will work with the module software.
Module texts, other printed materials, module software (including NetBeans) on CD-ROM, a website, online forums.
You will need
You require internet access at least once a week during the module to download module resources and assignments, submit assignments and keep up to date with module news.
You will need a device with internet access to study this module as a web browser is used to access learning materials and activities. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. This module requires the installation of software from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick. You may need administrative privileges to install the software.
A Windows desktop or laptop running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. This module requires installation of Microsoft Windows specific software.
Some software will not run on Mac OS X, Linux, iOS or Android devices.
A netbook, tablet, phone, Mac or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers below may be suitable for some activities. However, these devices may not be suitable for one or more activities within this module. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to another suitable desktop or laptop device that uses the Windows operating system so that you can carry out all activities on your mobile device. You will need a broadband internet connection to complete this module. Better video performance is available with higher connection speeds.
Recent versions of the following browsers for carrying out web-based activities:
Or Internet Explorer 9 and above.
Using a browser upgraded to the latest version will maximise security when accessing the internet.
Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.
To be able to talk and listen in our online discussions you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
Devices with small screens may make it difficult to view the material provided and carry out the activities. However, a device that has a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and also at least 768 pixels vertically should be adequate.
See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.
Teaching and assessment
Support from your tutor
You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.
Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.
The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.
You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.
The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2015 when it will be available for the last time. A replacement module is not planned.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents