Network computing (NC) is the act of distributing user processing between simple- technology client network devices and the centralized servers they are connected to. Since the first Java-based network computers, industry advocates have promised us that NC will empower our networks to quickly implement new technology, lower Total Cost of Ownership, and provide better security, system management, and client configuration. Theyve even hinted that NC will spell the end of the PC as we know it. But is this a reasonable argument? Will thin network devices eventually surpass PCs as the computing weapon of choice?
The evidence in the PC-versus-thin-client debate is inconclusive. The PC vendors have destroyed price as a marketing point for NC vendors. With PCs under $1,000, NC devices must become very cheap to sell on price alone. And as to what corporate IT departments are thinking, thats fairly vague. For every research report that says 70 percent of thin clients are deployed to replace terminals, another report states that 73 percent of thin clients are replacing PCs. Theres a definite battle of white papers out there, and whether or not thin clients are a threat to PCs depends on which side of the NC street you prefer driving on.
Meanwhile, NC hardware sales continue growing, with associated server and client software sales following close behind. Regardless of whether thin clients eventually conquer PCs, they are migrating into the corporate world. They are getting enough market share to be noticed and promoted by some significant players (such as IBM, Microsoft, Wyse, and Network Computing Devices). Its an active marketplace, and a lot of people want your business. For that reason alone, this topic deserves expanded coverage, and thats what were giving you in this issues Focus section.
In The Networking Computing Chess Game: Its Your Move, I explain what your options are for creating an NC environment inside your AS/400 network. This article was designed for novices who like the concept but havent yet designed the network architecture for their particular environments.
Of course, your network computer wont work until you install it, and thats where Daniel Greens BOOTP, DHCP, and Network Computers: Your Absolute Best Practices comes in. As MCs TCP/IP guru, Daniel demonstrates how to use DHCP to log an IBM Network Station into a TCP/IP network.
Before you can install your network computer, however, you need to purchase one, so you should really check out Tim Prickett Morgans The Nuts and Bolts of Thin-client
Hardware. Tims forte is to methodically break down a marketplace and analyze everything you need to know. I recommend reading this article before you talk to any hardware vendors, including IBM.
Finally, what about running IBMs Client Access products in a Windows thin-client environment? Start by reading Jeff Van Heuklon and Ana Tomkos See Client Access Runon Windows TSE! This article focuses on three technologiesClient Access Express for Windows, Windows NT Terminal Server Edition, and Citrix MetaFrameand how you bring them together. Its a complete integration manual that answers your questions about setting up and configuring the Windows Terminal Server for AS/400 access.
In this issues Focus section, youll find a lot of information to help you evaluate your NC options. If you want to implement an AS/400 NC environment, these articles will arm you with what you need to get started.