Importance of Client Server Technology

Used in almost all automated library systems, client/server technology is the computer architecture. Client/Server technology is computer architecture for separating the application’s functions into two or more distinct parts. Client/Server technology divides functions into client (requestor) and server (provider) subsystems, with standard communication methods (such as TCP/IP and z39.50). To facilitate the sharing of information between them, it divides the functions. On the desktop computer the client presents and manipulates data. To store and retrieve protected data the server acts like a mainframe. The machines can perform their duties to their best.

Characteristics

The main characteristics of Client Server Technology is as under-

o By the differences in their performing tasks the client and server can be differentiated from one another.

o The client and server generally function on different computer platforms.

o One or more servers may be connected by the clients.

o Multiple clients may be connected by the servers at the same time.

o Without affecting each other the client or server may be upgraded.

o By requesting a service the clients always initiate the dialogue.

In a client/server environment a client PC almost does the following:

o screen handling

o menu or command interpretation

o data entry

o help processing

o error recovery

A server can be anywhere along the dividing line and with a broad range between the clients. Only the user interface has been moved onto the client at one end; at the other end the database may be distributed.

Along the range there are at least five points:

1. Distributed presentation: The server and the client partly handle the presentation

2. Remote presentation: The client handles or controls the entire presentation

3. Distributed logic: The server and the client partly handle the application logic

4. Remote data management: The server handles or controls the entire Database management

5. Distributed database: The server and the client partly handle the Database management

In a library environment there are two major applications for client/server:

1) For an automated library system as the architecture- To facilitate use of this system a vendor designs a system using client/server technology to access multiple servers to improve productivity and to bring together multiple product lines.

2) To linking heterogeneous systems as an approach- To facilitate transparent access a vendor designs a client to systems of other vendors and from others a server to facilitate transparent access to its system.

Benefits

The benefits of client/server computing are as under

1) In spite of changing the legacy application it is much easier to implement client/server

2) Move to rapid application development and new technology like object oriented technology

3) For development and support it is a long term cost benefits

4) To support new systems it is easy to add new hardware like document imaging and video teleconferencing

5) For each application it can implement multiple vendor software tools
Client/Server technology is proved much cost efficient and feasible in a mainframe environment.

Concerns

The companies implement client/server technology on the following concerns-

o Between the client and server where there are many levels of complexity and compatibility issues

o Since you will need to maintain the old system (mainframe) and the new client server architecture development cost will rise in the short term

o There are many layers of complexity and compatibility issues between the client and server.

o Cost will rise in the short term since you will need to maintain the old system (mainframe) and the new client server architecture development.

o Software’s competency such as tools of security and management are not as mature as mainframe counterparts.

o With these tools takes time to become proficient.

o At giving up control of a centralized computing environment Information System departments may draw back.

How P2P and Client-Server Computer Networks Compare

When you plan to set up a computer network which will make the cooperation between your employees even more effective, you have to make a number of important decisions. One of them is on the type of network operating system which you will use. You have two options – peer-to-peer (P2P) system and client-server system. Take a closer look at both options and their advantages and disadvantages.

Peer-to-Peer System Pros and Cons

In a P2P computer network, all participating devices and their users are equal. They can share all resources between each other freely. They can all act as system administrators. At the same time, there is no central server which keeps all resources. The modern desktop operating systems can function as P2P systems as well.

The main benefit of a peer-to-peer network is the lower setup cost. There is no need for investing in a computer which will act as a server. If the computers in your office already have an operating system like Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, it will most probably require reconfiguration to be used as a network system. This will also help to bring costs down. Besides, it will make the setup much faster and easier. Another benefit is that each user will have greater control over the system.

There are several drawbacks as well. The level of security is lower due to the equal access and capabilities of all computers. There is no central storage and this may pose a greater risk of data loss.

A P2P computer network is more suitable for small to medium-sized companies which have employees with good technical knowledge.

Client-Server System Pros and Cons

With this type of system, there is a server computer which stores all data and applications. A larger network can have more than one server. The rest of the computers can access the data and apps on the server. They are called clients. There are specially designed operating systems for client-server networks.

This type of system has several notable benefits. The centralization allows for a higher level of security. Additionally, it is much easier and more cost-efficient for such a system to be expanded. This gives a company greater flexibility in the short term and in the long term as well. The nature of the system makes upgrading and the integration of new technology easier as well. It is possible for the server to be accessed remotely via different platforms. This can provide for an ever greater increase in productivity.

One of the major drawbacks of a client-server system is the fairly high setup cost. Additionally, the network will require more maintenance due to the presence of the server. As it expands, these needs will increase even further. This will inevitably lead to higher operating cost. Another disadvantage is that if the server goes down, the whole network will stop functioning.

A client-server system is more suitable for large companies which require a large network. The employees who will use the client computers require basic technical knowledge while the server has to be managed and maintained professionally.

You need to consider the individual requirements of your company in order to decide on the right type of operating system for your computer network.

Implementing a Data Capture System – Thin Or Thick Client?

Not Choosing Wisely When Deciding on a Thick or Thin Client Solution

Whenever I hear the phrase “Not choosing wisely” or some variation of that I am always reminded of the third Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail movie and the scene when the Knight that is guarding the Holy Grail in the cave says “He chose poorly”. This was after the German colonel died when drinking the water from the wrong cup. In the world of client/server architecture, it is important to ‘choose wisely’ when you are determining if it will be the client or the server that handles the bulk of the workload. By client, we mean the application that runs on a personal computer or workstation and relies on a server to perform operations. While they share similarities, there are many differences between thick and thin clients. By the way, we refer to thick and thin as the hardware (e.g., how a PC communicates with the server), but the terms are also used to describe applications. In a nut shell, a thick client application is run from a central location or server while a thin client application can be run remotely from various locations like branch offices or military depots. And while the marketplace provides both thick and thin client data capture applications in various shapes and sizes knowing how to choose which one is right for your business and budget is critical.

Thin Clients

A thin client is designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs on the server. Although the term thin client often refers to software, it is increasingly used for the computers, such as network computers and Net PCs, which are designed to serve as the clients for client/server architectures. A thin client is a network computer which operates without the need for a hard disk drive. They act as a simple terminal to the server and require constant communication with the server as well. With a data capture system the actual capture of the document initially lives on the computer of the thin client, but is saved to the server. The thin client (web page) application can then instruct the server what to do to the document or what indexes to save. In areas of slow network response, the thin client software can be scheduled to send the captured documents to the server at certain times of the day or night when network traffic is light.

A thin client data capture solution may be right for you if you have branch offices or distributed remote locations and you want to be able to capture and process data at those locations rather than shipping the paperwork to a central processing center. In this case you can lower your costs and enhance your security (no lost papers in the mail) by scanning and capturing remotely. Additionally, by accessing the capture application through a Web browser, there is no software to install and configure at each user’s computer, leading to easier scalability and a lower initial and ongoing technology investment. Both named user seat licenses and concurrent user licenses are available in the thin client marketplace but our advice is to find a concurrent user model, especially if you have several remote locations or branches.

Thick Clients

In contrast, a thick client (also called a fat client) is one that will perform the bulk of the processing in client/server applications. With data capture thick clients, there is no need for continuous server communications as mainly you are communicating archival storage information to the server. As in the case of a thin client, the term is often used to refer to software, but it is also used to describe the networked computer itself.

If your operations do not involve branches or distributed locations or you don’t have the need for a lot of seats and want named user licenses then you would probably want to consider using a thick client data capture solution. Additionally, if your applications require multimedia components or are bandwidth intensive, you’ll want to consider going with a thick client solution as well. One of the biggest advantages of thick clients rests in the nature of some operating systems and software being unable to run on thin clients effectively due to resource issues. Thick clients can handle these issues as they have their own resources.

At the end of the day, when choosing either a thin client or thick client data capture solution, you will need to consider if your business will capture and process documents remotely or centrally and where you want the bulk of your processing to take place. Like the knight in the Indiana Jones movie, we caution you to ‘choose wisely’.

Look for our next article on Fourth of Five Key Data Capture Implementation Mistakes: Choosing Size over Flexibility.