Why client-server must die

Client-server computing was based on a fallacy, which needs to go away

I write this week from IBM’s Insight conference in Las Vegas. A former InfoWorld editor in chief, Stewart Alsop, predicted that the last mainframe would be unplugged in 1996. This week I'll attend a session where IBM runs Apache Spark on a mainframe, even as the mighty beast's luster finally fades.

I'm going to the Spark-on-the-mainframe session for the lolz. IBM loves its mainframes because they sustain one of the few noncompetitive hardware businesses in existence, where IBM can make nearly a 50 percent margin.

The mainframe business is also one of the only legitimate areas of computing where you'll see ©1980 on the startup screen. Client-server computing does not depend on specific hardware. Instead, it's simply a computing model that has evolved under various hardware and network constraints.

I'm sure we -- that is, me and the LinkedIn or Twitter spheres -- can quibble over the definition of client-server versus the model I'll call "purely distributed." So allow me to define client-server as one or more clients connected to a server listening on a pool or set of sockets that mainly scales vertically and usually has a central data store. This is the model of the LAN.

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