back to article Mobile devices bring back that old client-server feeling

If you see the phrase “any time, any place, anywhere” in relation to mobile access, and are tempted to point out the language redundancy (any place, anywhere), then you are probably not old enough to remember the birth of client-server in the late '80s and early '90s. If, however, cheesy music from a Martini ad is now running …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    My thoughts are: Yeah. What comes around goes around. Oh and I've yet to find an HTML based front-end that felt as solid as a dedicated application. Even when they are just talking to localhost they feel klunky.

    When I started programming it was the age of DOS and the idea of sharing data between different applications was scary. If you were lucky they both understand CSV (with a bit of effort) but most often you were stuck. XML was supposed to be a better CSV (amongst other things) but that hasn't entirely panned out. It can do the job but it can really do your head in sometimes.

    So now we wonder how to get data from one VM to another... hmmm.

    On the plus side IT seems to be doing well creating jobs for the boys. Those of us who understand it should be assured of employment for as long as we want it :)

  2. abdel kander
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    Yes but this time we have SAAS on the other side!

    Nice article and now I feel old indeed! I remember when Oracle scrambled to put a client-server layer (SQL*Net) on top of its database and how many users ended up cooking an unhealthy amount of MS Access databases on their "powerful" PCs!

    This time however, we're having the SAAS this going on where vendors are climbing up the food chain and no one is talking of Data or Application but rather a Service. It's all happening of the cloud and the package comes with mucho bells and whistles. Having said that I'm starting to hear of off-line Salesforce!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes but this time we have SAAS on the other side!

      SAAS = "Bureau" computing or timesharing which was used by small businesses in the mainframe era who didn't have their own IT dept... largely replaced by the HP3000s etc. mentioned in Dale's article.

  3. Dr Who

    We could all have a discussion about how fat is too fat when it comes to client software.

    Or we could all have a discussion about whether Nicollette Sheridan is too fat, too thin, or just about right in the Martini ad :

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Surely no discussion possible on the subject? If client software was designed that well, client server would have taken over completely.

      However, I really don't think there is any argument. Successive waves of client/server have fallen on the rocks of cycle time, bandwidth, platform diversity, network access, and hardware cost. Remember when a "thin client" cost as much as a reasonably full featured desktop? Not long ago. Now the technologies are converging; the Nexus 7 and its ilk are thin clients that would have seemed inconceivable in the mid-2000s, bandwidth and the other network issues are getting sorted, and platform diversity is, despite the best efforts of Redmond and Cupertino, shrinking.

      But IT does need to get a grip on BYOD. It's a lazy solution by people who don't want to do hard thinking about security and have decided it is easier to just let the shouty people have what they want. They are largely the same shouty people that cause companies and banks to go pear shaped, so somebody needs to persuade the bean counters that not only does it cost more in the long run, in a year or so when the hardware is completely commoditized, the shouty people will just be back demanding that IT provide something that works and all the effort will have been wasted.

      1. Fatman

        RE: BYOD....lazy solution by people ...have decided it is easier to just let the shouty people

        Not at WROK PALCE!!! A couple of those shouty people have found that tangling with my boss (the CIO) over BYOD, is a career ending move. (One leaving this Friday - contract not extended.)

        You see, she has the full backing of the CEO and CFO when it comes to getting it WRT security. If we (the company) do not OWN the device, then it does NOT get connected behind the firewall. That point was made painfully clear to me the day I first started.

        If I bring my laptop into the office, and connect it to a network jack behind the firewall, I can expect a pink slip. The same goes for connecting any non approved flash drives. Frankly, I prefer it that way. Your machine- you get to "call the shots"; my machine - what is on it is none of your business. The same goes for the cell phone. No issues about accidentally remote wiping a former employee's data; which I have heard about in the news at least once in the past 6 months.

        Life is so much simpler without BYOD; it's too bad some lazy shouty people ruin it for the rest of us.

        BTW, BYOD should actually be BOMP: Bring On More Problems.

  4. Forget It

    HTML5 wysiwyg editors:


  5. Sil
    Thumb Up


    While client-server was not the panacea one thought it would be let's not exaggerate the other way: CS was way better than mainframe-dumb terminals and part of its limitations also came from exploding demands for computations and data management.

    This time it's a little different as someone mentioned above. It is devices connected to cloud data centers, with virtual server programming, management and utilization miles ahead of what it was, a payload better shared with more reliable, secure and connected devices. There are still many challenges such as security especially if many byod types are authorized, and new risks with interconnected cloud services/apps but in other ways it is more reliable with lots of redundancies that many corporations could not or would not afford (communication redundancy, server redundancy, power redundancy and so forth).

    Also personally I have never worked for a company or even know of a company through business acquaintances where byod is primarily used. While some people use byod at work, it is only in addition to a main computer where 90% of the work takes place. In addition, it may not be true everywhere but in my company byod were not supported by the company, except for ultra basic access such as wifi (with internet access not corporate access and printing, the same access we gave external people). Only company notebooks and smartphones were supported because the cost of setting up, maintaining and supporting byod was too expensive and did not make sense.

  6. Brendan Sullivan


    I am heartened to finally see one analysis of 'cloud' computing not just drawing the parallels to the old C/S systems but also, and somewhat more importantly, pointing out that the infrastructure that this entire concept depends on doesn't exist (at least not in the state and ubiquity that the pitch-men seem to think it does). Mobile data and even wireline connectivity in many countries (especially the US) do not provide the bandwidth that most of this new breed of client-server systems depend on, until they do the 'Cloud' utopia cannot exist and even cloud-like systems in an office will only be able to provide anything like the promise of constant access to centralized storage while the user is in the building.

  7. Joe Gurman

    Funny comment

    Appears to imply that "back in the day," you could only implement this in unix. Yet I clearly remember doing on VAXes and Alphas running VMS. With or without a system manager's permission, as long as aI had an account on both client and server. Indeed, if one extends client-server to graphics, X11 goes back to right about the same time as nfs, and that ran on all kinds of systems.

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  9. Mpeler

    ehhh......Young Whippersnappers....

    Re: back in the day....on the 3000 it was called "Distributed Systems" or DS/3000, complete with a

    network link where one system could be master (server), slave (client) or both....add in "smart terminals"

    with forms cache (which savvy users could manipulate), programmable terminals (some variant of

    the 264x line, if not 262x), and later "screen scraper" applications (user exits in application code) and

    "bring your own device" could, er, easily become "build your own disaster"..... HP and DEC (and others)

    promoted departmental or distributed computing, as opposed to IBM, who supported centralized computing.

    Having said that, they were first to have local forms, etc., so I'm sure end-user "innovation" is

    somewhat older than we're thinking...

    Centralized <-> distributed <-> centralized <-> distributed..... the more things change,

    the more they remain the same....

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