Systems Theory/Open/Closed System Structure
A system that interfaces and interacts with its environment, by receiving inputs from and delivering outputs to the outside, is called an open system. They possess permeable boundaries, that permits interaction across its boundary, through which new information or ideas are readily absorbed, permitting the incorporation and diffusion of viable, new ideas. Because of this they can adapt more quickly to changes in the external environment in which they operate. As the environment influence the system, the system also influences the environment. Allowing a system to be open ultimately sustains growth and serves its parent environment, and so both have a stronger probability for survival.
Examples of open systems: Business organization, Hospital system, College or University system.
Conversely, a closed system is more prone to resist incorporating new ideas, that can be deemed unnecessary to its parent environment and risks atrophy. By not adopting or imps, a closed system ceases to properly serve the environment it lives in.
Adaptability and Survival
This adaptability and survival of open systems has been exhibited in society's recent global information age. Current information technology have absorbed new technologies and approaches have sustained long term success. Systems which incorporate efficient data representation, storage, and transfer, and good operating system design and effective use of processor power have retained their public user base. Information technology initiatives which adapted slowly to their rapidly changing environment ultimately lost significance in the industry and have disappeared.Operating technologies such as the Network File System, initiated by Sun Microsystems, and Netscape Internet Browser, designed by Marc Andreessen, are examples of effective open IT systems. These technologies have established the backbone of information technology within society. Both technologies represent open systems with the common initiative for sharing data. NFS is used to distribute access to shared disk file system across several servers within a local network. Netscape is used as a portal to gain access to the volumes of data within the world’s Internet. Both technologies fostered further growth within the environments in which they were introduced. The NFS standard created synergy for the growth of SUN Microsystems and has been adopted by other operating system designers. Netscape ultimately fostered the growth of the amount and types of data made available through the Internet. These technologies foster an open paradigm where data is absorbed by an infinite number of participants.
The rate of change within the technology sector is extremely rapid, and systems groups have consciously adopted an “open systems” approach to increase their chance of survival. Prioritizing the adaptability of a system for different OS platforms, database designs, and communication protocols has been seen within the IT industry as the wisest approach. Any technologies designed to solely propagate the success of one platform or particular technology have been methodically eliminated. At the risk of domination of the user’s personal computer desktop, Microsoft's introduction of a closed design embedding the company’s internet browser into kernel operating modules was halted by an investigation of monopolistic practices. The initiative of Microsoft to manipulate technology such that the primary benefits were for the propagation of their technical product alone was halted by the natural tensions created by the unhealthy closed system. The system did not serve the environment in which it lived by posing the threat of limiting user’s access to the world’s internet. Outcry from users as well as judicial entities has forced Microsoft to evolve it's operating system into a more accommodating, dynamic and viable system.