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Cloud Computing: The Mainframe Reincarnated

I see this whole cloud computing movement as nothing more than a reincarnation of the classic mainframe client-server model

Andi Baritchi's Blog

I see this whole
cloud computing movement as nothing more than a reincarnation of the classic mainframe client-server model. People want painless access to their data and applications from wherever they are, from whatever electronic gizmo they happen to be using.

In a time long, long ago, before internet pron, spam, and Britney Spears, there was mainframe computing. A user would login to a dumb terminal, do their work remotely on the mainframe, and logout. Since the work was saved on the mainframe, she could resume her work later from any terminal accessing that mainframe. And for the most part, if setup right, mainframes were pretty damn secure too.

Then came the advent of the personal computer (PC). Now the computing power and storage was in your home. We gained the ability to work at home, but lost the mobility to work from anywhere - there's no server to sync with. Thus the notebook.

Since history does tend to repeat itself cyclically, I see this whole cloud computing movement as nothing more than a reincarnation of the classic mainframe client-server model. People want painless access to their data and applications from wherever they are, from whatever electronic gizmo they happen to be using. Sometimes we're on a computer. A laptop. A desktop. A smartphone. A smartTV. A smartfridge. A smartcar...?

For this computing paradigm to work, everything needs to be synchronized to a central server, with minimal intelligence being stored on the portable device. The only reason for the storage is caching for times of non-connectivity (insert TSA rant here).

The two smartest companies out there that I see capitalizing on this pendulum movement are Apple and Google. Apple's Mac Nano iPhone has already put 13 million Macs into people's pockets to date. It's a great dumb terminal / minicomputer that also doubles as a mediocre phone. I love mine. Google's recently introduced Android platform promises to do more of the same. Kudos to both Apple and Google for being ahead of the curve.

As a side note, this is a very exciting time for me being a security and privacy guy. This feverish movement back to client server to the cloud will see many security lapses. It's gonna be a fun ride.


More Stories By Andi Baritchi

Andi Baritchi is senior Security Consultant at a Fortune 100 company. He blogs at

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Most Recent Comments
abossard 04/07/09 11:20:49 AM EDT

Hi Andi,
I think you miss the point about cloud computing: Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet (or another network). (see wikipedia)

It has nothing to do with a "central server" and actually doesn't resemblance the "classic mainframe client-server model" at all. Just read the description on amazon ec2:
... is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud.

If you use a client/server architecture on it, or peer to peer, or independent monolithic instances which work on a common result doesn't really matter.

Cloud computing enables me as a developer dynamically scale and assign computing power and other resources to my application. This is also what RightScale provides.

So please explain me, how should that be a reincarnation of the classic client/server model? It neither defines client nor server, it isn't centralized (its a cloud, like the internet and not like a central mainframe).

debnathm 12/12/08 11:04:11 AM EST

As I see it, it need not necessarily be a mainframe
that's hosting the cloud services. It could be a
cluster of cheaper computers. The main thing is
that whatever's hosting the cloud application, needs
to be fast

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