Nice little number, this one
Opinion: Smaller, neater, cheaper - the network computer has few drawbacks, argues Andrew Ward
Monday 06 May 1996
But throughout the computer industry, massive investments are being made in network-centric computing. Are Sun, IBM and Oracle really all wrong? And if not, why not?
Some say the NC will not be much cheaper than the PC. That was recently disproved by Oracle, which demonstrated a network computer with a bill of materials of around $295 (pounds 200) - a fraction of the cost of the PC.
Scepticism is also voiced about the claims by Sun and Oracle for "near- zero administration costs". In fact, people are already implementing network- centric applications using PCs, so we know the administration costs for this computing model are low; replace the PC with the NC and they will be lower still.
There is also concern that the "newness" of the NC will result in teething problems. It will not. Technically, there is very little about the NC that is new. Yes, electronic devices do fail and the NC will be no exception, but its lack of moving parts and cooler running will give it a virtually indefinite lifetime - certainly far, far in excess of that of the average hot and noisy PC. And without a shadow of doubt, the NC will be smaller and more attractive than the ugly brutes littering our desktops today.
Network speed is another concern. But network-centric computing actually makes fewer demands on network bandwidth than existing PC-based applications. Database programs such as Access shunt vast amounts of data around networks, and massive applications such as Word 7 are often loaded from servers, creating huge bandwidth demand. NC programs will be much, much smaller.
And it is a nonsense to suggest that reliance on the network makes the NC somehow more exposed to failure. The reality today is that virtually all serious corporate use of PCs requires a network connection, so huge sums have already been invested in ensuring network reliability. Besides, there is nothing wrong with relying on a network; a telephone would not be much use without one, after all.
Another worry is a perceived lack of application software for the NC. This is an understandable concern, given the often considerable delays that beset development of new PC programs. But according to Ray Lane, of Oracle, "Sun's Java language will enable software suppliers to design and deploy mini-programs very quickly", so we can expect to see a greater variety of software coming to market more quickly.
The truth is that network-centric computing is not some idea for the future: it is here and now. "Web-enabled" applications, whose only requirement on the part of the client computer is to run a Web browser, are already up and running. Many tailor-made applications are in use now at organisations throughout the world, and off-the-shelf program suites such as Oracle's InterOffice are just around the corner.
Out in the real world, IT users are already convinced by the network- centric argument, which is why they are building these systems today. For the moment, the client software runs on PCs, but it is ready to take advantage of the much cheaper NC as soon as it becomes available.
Nevertheless, the NC will not take over completely from the PC, just as the telephone did not completely remove the need for messenger boys (we call them dispatch riders today). Nor will the PC disappear overnight. But as companies come to replace them, I believe they will increasingly turn to network computers. The PC will remain, but as an expensive and specialist tool, used by a minority.
Life & Style blogs
Hayfever pills and sleeping aids can 'significantly increase' risk of Alzheimer’s, says US study
Hershey's angers US chocolate purists by forcing company to stop importing 'yummy' Cadbury bars
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
SAG Awards 2015: Best and worst gowns on the red carpet
Nike Back to the Future style self-lacing shoes 'will arrive in 2015'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister wears suit with pinstripes that spell his name to meet Barack Obama
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...