What Is Location Transparency?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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In computing, location transparency has to do with the use of names to identify resources, without the need for users to necessarily know the exact location of those resources. Thanks to the use of indexing, the name can be used to access the resources, which may be located locally or remotely, and allow the use of those resources by anyone who is authorized to gain access to them. Location transparency is considered a basic in the world of computing and can be related to something as simple as retrieving data using a specific file name or some type of service that is Internet-based.

One of the practical applications of location transparency in a business network setting is the housing of data in various sections of the memory of a common server that provides the means of connecting a number of computers. The data may be associated with one or more software programs that end users use to retrieve the data in real time fashion. The users do not have to know exactly where on the server the data is housed, only how to use the right file name to access the data. Often, the configuration of the systems used makes it possible for more than one user to access the data at the same time, without slowing the access for either of those users.


Thanks to the idea of location transparency, an employee working in a specific firm can access data whether it is housed somewhere on a server or on the local hard drive using basically the same process. Depending on how the network is configured, the user may be able to access files that reside on another computer connected to the network. This practical application can be especially helpful for business travelers who can use a laptop to connect with the network and access a file that resides on his or her desktop hard drive back at the office, using the server connection as the means of reaching that remotely housed file.

The concept of location transparency is also seen in the use of data that is accessed via the Internet. End users may choose to download a program by identifying it by name and executing the download process, without the need to know exactly where in the world that program is actually residing. For all practical intents and purposes, the program and the associated data is local, although in reality it may be housed in a server on the other side of the globe. Location transparency effectively makes the location a non-issue with users, since the data can be accessed by anyone who can connect to the Internet, knows the right file names to use, and has proper security credentials to access the file.


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