Changes in the user computing environment
Christian Karasiewicz 270005XS4E Visits (2649)
This blog post is contributed by Steven Kim Yong Yeo, an experienced network architect and consultant.
Globalization has changed the way businesses should operate. To achieve better revenue, organizations have relocated various business functions to different locations, either where the operation cost is lower or where the location can bring significant advantages to the business. This operation model has affected the user computing experience. Since many companies have offices located in different locations or even in different countries, along with varying time zones, users are expected to work and get connected in any place and at any time. As such, handy mobile devices have been adopted for user computing convenience and ease of access.
The traditional way of computing is the client-server architecture, also known as fat-client computing, where a distributed application requires frequent communication between the user and server applications over the computer network. This computing model has become unsuitable for global operations. Application transaction responsiveness, reliability and high performance network connectivity are the critical requirements for supporting a worldwide operation. However, some requirements, for example network connectivity, are beyond the average user’s ability to manage and control, because they rely on the service provider’s capability and availability.
Industry analysis reports have shown that most users have switched from the client-server model to the thin-client model. Thin-client computing depends heavily on some other computer, whereas normally the application servers fulfill the computational roles. Compared to fat-client computing, as mentioned above, the client’s computer is designed to take on these roles by itself.
The specific roles assumed by the application server may vary, from providing data persistence (for example, for diskless nodes) to actual information processingon the client's behalf. Thin clients occur as a small application footprint located inside the user system, where many users share their computations with the same server. As such, thin-client infrastructures can be viewed as providing some computing service using several user interfaces. Thin-client computing is also a way of easily maintaining computational services at a reduced total cost of ownership. The most common type of modern thin client is a low-end computer terminal that only provides a graphical user interface, which includes devices like smartphones, tablets and more.
In view of these changes to the user computing experience, what will be the impact to application servers and to the infrastructure setup for hosting these servers? The main concern will be the increasing traffic generated from client devices. If we look at the number of desktop computers versus the number of smart devices, we will see a huge gap between these two numbers, with many more smart devices accessing the application servers than desktop computers.
So, how do you think the existing network infrastructure is going to handle these changes in the user computing environment?