Who Needs PCs?: Page 3

Given communications technologies and trends, our IT/Biz Alignment columnist writes, it makes sense to invest much more in the server than the client.
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Over time the cost for ultra thin devices will be less than $100 (they might even be free as new pricing models emerge for Web-based transaction processing). Thin Web clients will become throw-aways eliminating completely the break-and-fix/replacement cycle that plagues so many IT shops and frustrates so many not-so-tech-savvy users. Pricing trends will also make the devices affordable to just about everyone.

There’s great appeal in stepping away from managing any aspect of the communications infrastructure or content management on fat devices that require substantial care and feeding. When the industry first started thinking about thin clients -– even before Larry Ellison’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show over a decade ago –- everyone understood the network and transaction processing implications of thin client architecture.

In those days there was a lot of uncertainty about just how to power the transactions that a 24/7 network would deliver. But more recently, architectures have developed that suggest just how a thin client/fat host might work. New service oriented architectures (SOA) will make it possible for transaction power -– and flexibility -– to reside on distributed servers capable of communicating and fabricating transactions at a moment’s notice. SOA combined with AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) will make it possible for consumers to use incredibly skinny devices to accomplish all sorts of Web-based activities.

What this all means in practice is that our ability to extend distributed computing is growing dramatically and that new architectures will make it possible to imagine all sorts of seamless, instant communications from all sorts of devices -– including ultra thin ones. What a wonderful world it will be.

So the next time you think you need a PC, look at what thin clients can do for you. I suspect that you may not need to lug all that capacity around -– that you can get pretty much what you want for a whole lot less money, pounds and hassle.


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