Group Number 6 Dale Smith, Justin Zgodzinski, Justin Lee, Jeremy Hanes, Nick Williams, Daniel Cohen Client

-Server Systems in the Business Environment Sunday April 17, 2011 2843 words

Introduction to Client-Server Systems In the business world, one of the main systems set in place is the classic client-server system where many workstations will communicate heavily with a central server or servers. These workstations will contact the servers for anything from data to credentials which can all be set up and maintained by system administrators according to specific guidelines. These guidelines, created with the help of upper management, are meant to keep users safe, create a better working environment devoid of hazard to both corporate information and personal information, and keep data backed up and easily accessible to the right people. We will be discussing, in further detail, the benefits and drawbacks of this system. Client-server systems have been used for many years now in both large corporations and small businesses. This system is implemented so often because it “offers a wide range of powerful administrative tools, which are particularly useful in an environment where security is an issue.” (Microsoft 1997) For example, using a client-server network, users can share the same files, printers, and connections, all while being monitored and controlled by a central server. The central server monitors the network traffic, ensuring that clients with certain access restrictions can only gain access to the information necessary to complete their job. Also, the server can restrict the web traffic, preventing most viruses and security holes from being taken advantage of. Basically, the users on your network don’t have to be technologically intensive to be secured from most attacks. Technology Administrators in a network that is either peer-to-peer or without a centralized server system will generally have to ensure workstations are secure by setting up rules and ports on each individual computer, which can be time consuming. Client-server systems also save disk space and resources by keeping them in a location that can focus on those processes in its entirety and distribute them to the entire network as opposed to

a file on one workstation having to be emailed to another workstation. In a field such as health care, this is extremely important as doctors, as well as nurses, admissions staff, and financial staff, will need the same document across several different means nearly simultaneously. Also, because this information can most often be confidential, it is easier to send within a closed, controlled network than sending through email or other means that would allow sensitive information outside of your controlled network. One of the drawbacks of the client-server system, though, is that it can be a little expensive and time consuming to implement. Most times, a server, depending on the hardware required to run it and the software required to implement it, can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars. Not to mention the time to configure a network can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks depending on the intensity and the size of the network. Also, even after initial configuration, updates and added components can often take even more time to configure and maintain. Even with the initial investments and running investments, the benefits of running such a network greatly outweigh the drawbacks. How client server organizations have effected organizations The implementations of client/server systems, or any technological improvement to an organization, are typically utilized to improve the functionality and efficiency of an organization in a competitive environment. The success of that implementation is often dependent upon the end users of the organization, however many of these advantages are often never realized as changes in technology lack the necessary changes in management and operational structure to make use of the technological advantages. IT projects traditionally have a poor record with successful implementation due to many factors including scale, complexity and personnel issues (Lauria).

One of the most important aspects of business has been competitive advantage. The IT industry has been one of the key aspects of such competitive technological implementations in business and information systems since the 1970’s (Lauria). The client/server architecture is the central structure for modern networking systems which follows a logical structure not too far removed from conventional business models, consisting of requesting, sending, and storing data. However, if these systems are poorly implemented, end users and management will fail to adjust to the new technology and functionality will not be improved. The technical aspects of IT projects are often lost on upper management and executive officers (Lauria). Few upper management users have any true knowledge on the functionality of these systems and often think of them in terms of cost, rather than investment (Lauria). The implementation of IT projects, such as the emergence of client/server networks since the mid 1990s, has resulted in major changes in the structure of personnel and operational practices (Lauria). IBM conducted a survey of organizations which had added new IT projects and found that unless the system wasn’t too complex for their size or too simple for their needs, then it would generally be accepted by staff and become a successful tool in the organization (Lauria). Some organizations, when switching to a client/server structure from a mainframe, could not anticipate the complications or broad range of technical issues needed to be overcome (Patrick & Watson, 1997). Another technical aspect of switching to client/server architecture is the significant increase in complexity the system requires; hardware and software performance on both the server and client computers becomes a hurdle itself. Monitoring and controlling these systems becomes more complex as well. (Patrick & Watson, 1997). During the implementation of new client/server systems, many organizations found the new environment to be expensive, unreliable and difficult to troubleshoot. Many systems needed

expensive upgrades, and money needed to be spent on training individuals to properly use it. Most new client/server systems seemed essentially like a big expense with little gain over traditional mainframe or host based architecture (Turner, 1994). It would only be under bugs were worked out and the organization of the users would change to meet the efficiency of the network would the client/server system begin to shine on its own. The client/server architecture has improved the efficiency of organizations in the end, albeit with a rough start in the early 1990s. The new systems were expensive and complex and did not work well with many established organizational practices which led to unhappy users and a downturn in productivity for a while. Once the new systems had time to set in and organizations become accustomed to the new way information was being handled, efficiency sky-rocketed. With the web-boom of the mid-late 90’s, this investment in client/server systems allowed organizations to become even more competitive in the booming economy.

The Future of Client-Server Technology Innovation of a technology is typically geared towards increased performance, functionality, and usability. The future for client server systems is cloud computing. In operation today, cloud computing allows users to access stored information from anywhere via the Internet. There are several benefits to cloud computing, with only few limitations and drawbacks, making cloud computing the latest innovation of client server systems. The concept of cloud computing is simple. Information can be accessed anytime you are able to connect to the Internet. Referred to as ‘the cloud,’ information such as business documents, power point presentations, data analysis spreadsheets, and more can be stored and accessed from a source that is not secluded. This means information that would be left at home on a personal laptop is instead available anytime by anyone with permissions. Collaboration is made even easier

now that projects can be worked on from anywhere with any number of individuals looking at information simultaneously. With applications such as Google Docs, business reports can be made accessible to others, with the ability for more than one person to write, review, and give feedback at the same time. The technology has already borrowed from other innovations from social networks, including an instant message side bar so collaboration is no longer limited to group meetings in person. As the demand for more user-friendly interfaces as well as increased functionality from the technology, cloud computing will only thrive and evolve in an environment that seeks efficiency (Thomas 2011). Businesses are moving towards cloud based technologies in an effort to decrease total costs in the IT related budget. Several factors including installation, operational use, and maintenance add to business expenditures. Accidents and disasters can also add to increased IT related costs, all of which can be decreased by converting to cloud computing technologies. Depending on the business structure, a private, public, or possibly no cloud at all would be economically beneficial to the company. Experts advise that an individual analysis of the business should occur in order to assess the advantages of moving to the cloud. Inherent to the technology, businesses can find several utilities that supply convenience to the job. One advantage is reliability. Businesses that provide cloud computing are large, dependable companies such as Google that are highly likely to be in business for quite some time. Information stored will be available for a long time, in not, these businesses will provide ample notification of any dismissal of client’s information. Another advantage is accessibility, more than anytime access, in a business environment, the ability to exchange and communicate information is paramount to success. With modern technologies such as teleconferencing, which allow people to communicate over large distances across the world, collaboration can be difficult without the use of cloud-oriented technology. Information security is

an advantage in debate concerning cloud computing. Placing information with outside holders that may be confidential, mission critical, and the like would be risky due to lack of control and local measures to secure the data. However, the information is more secure because it is held in a single location as opposed to many, some of which may be at risk to hacking if public wireless is involved. (Biddick 2011) Private clouds are available to accommodate for security concerns, albeit for a premium. As businesses increase productivity and decrease costs, cloud computing will be the logical next step. US government agencies are currently joining the initiative to move operations onto cloud technologies to utilize the benefits, among many are the financial savings that are needed in the current economic condition. (Biddick 2011) Today, cloud computing is being used by many different groups to work efficiently and progress work. Businesses, federal agencies, even educational institutions are basing operations on cloud technology in order to do more with less effort. Students use Google docs to work on school assignments. Teachers bring class materials to lecture and lab sessions effortlessly through Dropbox, a web-based application that holds large files for drop and drag use. What will encourage use of cloud computing technologies is increased usability. Computer literate generations already know how to use these tools. Cloud computing will need to become easier to use in order to grow. This advancement in client server systems has already, and will continue to provide services that all technology offers; efficiency and ease in completing work.

Application Report
Overview of Bradley University Bradley University is a independent, private, coeducational institution that is located in Peoria, Illinois. It is a rather small institution as it is only has about 6000 students and offer degrees in many different areas. These include but not limited to communication, business, sciences, liberal

arts, education, health sciences, engineering, and fine arts. Bradley University has also had a number of accolades when it comes to academics. Bradley University was named on the list of “ Top 25 Most Connected Campuses” and “Top 25 Entrepreneurial Campuses” in the whole nation by Forbes and the Princeton Review. (Watson & Patrick 1997) How Bradley is using the Client-server system In 1990 all of Bradley University’s administrative systems were located on a centralized mainframe computer. All of their administrative systems were purchased software that has been profoundly modified by Bradley University because they are no longer supported by the vendors or were locally developed by members of Information Management Services at Bradley University. Unfortunately there are a lot of problems with implementing this system using these methods. The systems had not been implemented in a modern database and DBMS; the design decisions that were made all the way back in the 1970’s were causing numerous operational answers; the systems were also rather inflexible; and there was a fear that Control Data Corporation; the designers of the mainframe computer, would not succeed in the mainframe business. (Watson & Patrick 1997) After reviewing everything that is needed and the current environment set up, Bradley University planned the movement from a centralized mainframe to a client server model. Bradley University planned on implementing 4 different systems using their new client-server environment. The first priority was implementing the Advancement system for the university because members of the advancement staff acknowledged that their current system would be deficient to support the many needs of the campaign. The Advancement system is responsible for the operation and planning of every aspect of Bradley University’s advancement system. This includes data analysis, reporting, programming, and computer support. There are approximately 70000 records for institutions and individuals.The Accounting and Finance systems would be the next as the second

priority. This is because the conversion of their current system to a standard accounting system would be nearly straightforward. Any finance/accounting reports needed can easily be generated using the Finance and Accounting systems. The last systems to be implemented were the Student Record and Admission systems as they were both the last priority. They were put at the end of the list because converting the applications were considered to be quite difficult. Both the Student Record and Admission systems are windows based systems; we are able to generate multiple reports including information in both systems. (Watson & Patrick 1997)

How the Client-Server switch helped improve Bradley and gain an advantage Bradley University has experienced two main types of benefits from switching to the client-server system. Most of the benefits were found to have come from a good design. This good design involved using relational database modeling techniques to provide clients with control and construct flexible systems. Bradley found that there were substantial benefits gained from this system with the two main ones being financial and “ease of use” benefits. Bradley found that one of the main financial benefits with the client-server system was the costs of upgrading. Even with a similar cost structure between mainframe and client-server system they found that upgrading in a client-server system was much more cost effective. They found that the reason for this was mostly because the bulk of computing takes place on the desktop/workstation. Because of this they found the ease and lower cost of upgrading individual workstations on a continual basis, rather than wait for the mainframes performance to drop to an unacceptable level and then upgrade it, to be beneficial. They also found that many of their users were switching to personal computers to use as mainframe terminals because they preferred to use personal productivity tools on their workstations than to use those on the mainframe. The college

also found that they had a notable cost advantage from switching from a single very expensive mainframe to multiple more affordable small servers. Such as the acquiring high-end servers with many features for the cost of the maintenance for the mainframe and still have money left over. The second main benefit that the college found was the ease of use with a clientserver system rather than a mainframe. They found that they could provide many more services than with a mainframe terminal system and that it was easier to develop pop-up screens with list and scroll boxes that offer major help to their clients. Bradley found that if someone is familiar with windows style applications the training to use their applications is minimal which is important for casual users such as faculty and advisors. One thing that the college did to aid in ease of use was to develop the data-entry portions of their applications so that mouse input was not needed but could be used for those users whom it would be more intuitive such as for management. With the implementation of the client-server system and windows style “rules” they are able to allow multiple instances of the same application. This enables running multiple administrative utilities or just allowing users to switch between programs at will and then return to what they were doing much more easily. (Watson & Patrick 1997) Finally they had some unexpected outcomes such as a workload shift that initially caused more workload in client offices (such as their switch from paper-based to online transcripts). Overall Bradley University found that they have experienced increases in user satisfaction and cost-effectiveness. All of these benefits have given the college an advantage over those still using mainframe style systems and they recommend that any company consider the client-server system.

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (2003) Client-Server System. Retrieved April 17, 2010, from Microsoft (1997) Client-server versus peer to peer. Retrieved April 17, 2010 from Thomas, Kier (2011) What Cloud Computing Means for the Real World. Retrieved April 16, 2011 from Biddick, Michael (2011) Cloud Computing’s Tipping Point. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from Lauria, E. J. (n.d.). Implementing Client/Server Technology in Organizations. Retrieved April 17, 2010, from Patrick, S., & Watson, E. (1997). From Mainframe to Client/Server - a Success Story. Retrieved April 17, 2011, from Gallaugher, John (1996). The Critical Choice of Client Server Architechture: a Comparison of Two and Three Tier Systems. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from Client-server system. (n.d.). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Retrieved April 16, 2011, from client-server architecture. (2011). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Watson, Ellen & Patrick, Stephen (1997) From Mainframe to Client/Server - a Success Story. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from

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