The latest trend in application delivery is bit like back to the future – once upon a time, companies that wanted computer processing power used time share or bureau services to access part of a mainframe’s processing power unless they could afford the millions of dollars in capital investment required to buy their own mainframe. As mini computers became available, more and more organisations could afford their own processing plant on-premise. Hence the rise of Digital, AS/400, Sequent, Pyramid, Sun…. Then the rise of PCs meant that processing could be split between the client side and the server and further decentralised.
All the talk about cloud computing, software as a service, computing as a utility, on demand all harks back to the timeshare model – you access the processing power that you need on a time-share, pay as you go scalable model. Except now, it’s not a mainframe at the back end, but data centres full of servers that have been virtualised (another mainframe concept!) to provide these services.
As the quotable Larry Ellison said late last year: “The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion.”