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RE: Wasting half a trillion dollars?

I think one needs to look at actual deployment and use cases to get a good handle on where the ERP apps are going with browser based solutions.  A few facts: 

1) The bread and butter is still in the fat client.  That's where the installed base is.  It takes  years to migrate these things (hardware and software upgrades, training costs, contingency planning, etc.).

2) Although desktop management tools have improved, the fat client is still very expensive to maintain.  To quote Dave Barry, "I am not making this up."  And, yes, last I checked, even the non-profits want to reduce overhead.  This is all definitely overhead.   Folks will look hard at web based solutions for new applications or new use cases.

3) Not all users use all the features of these application suites.   The classic example of where it pays to do something on the browser is self-help 401K and health plan applications.  Only folks in HR need the full functionality, decidedly fat client.  If you can avoid many of the aforementioned costs with a web deployment - and you can - many will pay additional development costs and sacrifice some usability.  So fine, give 50 people in  5 offices the full, native GUI interface.  Give 5000 people in 50 offices the limited web interface.

4) Java applets and Active-X can fill in some of the blanks.  In the Content Management space, I have recently seen a few products successfully use either Java applets or COM controls in IE to provide something resembling a GUI.   For example, Interwoven has a decent XML instance document editor implemented as a Java applet.  I saw another that provides some basic HTML formatting (Bold, Bullet, etc.) in a text entry form via Active-X.   It can be made to work for certain key pieces.  The rest is HTML + Javascript dogfood in front of the same app server as the fat client.

Altogether - not pretty, but not terrible either.

A separate, compelling argument for web based solutions is extranets.  This is a done thing for supply chain, purchasing, etc., etc.  Web base apps do make inter-organization integration (say that 3 times fast) easier technologically.

Finally, there are a bunch of plain socket apps out there.  These tend to be easily ported between Win32 and Unixen.   So your <simplisticSolution> has been around for a while now.  Indeed, the basic interoperability of TCP/IP and other web protocols is perhaps the greatest reason why Linux has done so very well.

I don't think we are really talking about fat or thin clients.  A browser is pretty darned fat.  I think we are really talking about dynamic code deployment and update - preferably portable.   So far, Java is winning this game, with Javascript coming in second.  The only other contender, client-side XML, isn't really happening yet.

take it easy,
Charles Reitzel

At 08:36 AM 5/1/01 -0500, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>Yep.  Done that.  What do I get?  an expensive to build 
>and debug, hard to maintain VB3 Application.     
>We can do a lot in the browser.  We can't do it as well.   
>Developers are trendier than New York fashion models. 
>What wears well on the runway doesn't always wear well 
>on the dance floor or in the office.   The dilemma is 
>not having good metrics for knowing when to choose 
>fat client/persistent connection technology over 
>thin client/stateless connection technology, but moreover, 
>knowing when the first should dominate the enterprise 
>and the second should be simply a window to the rest of the 
>world, maybe just a warehouse one ships data to but never 
>uses for business.  Given ten years of trying to secure 
>the web and it is still being hacked, a warehouse on the 
>outskirts of town at that.
>As for B2B schemas, the issue is not the 
>technology itself.   We can make that work.  The issue 
>is telling the one or two frontrunners in an industry 
>that because of their de facto status by market position 
>they have to submit their data designs to the public 
>and enable competition that has not invested in the 
>learning curve of the subject domain.   It is like 
>asking you to smear yourself in bear pheromones and go 
>hiking on the Appalachian Trail: hard work, uncomfortable 
>beds, and you can never close your eyes to rest.
>A little Objectivism is a healthy thing.
>Len Galt
>Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
>Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Anatole Tartakovsky [mailto:anatolet@teamcti.com]
>I agree that for real world back-office type database enabled applications "fat client" beats "server-only" hands down. However, I would not discount browser as "the best business application platform". Late versions of IE (i.e. 5.5+) CAN be effectively used for "fat client" types of applications.  Few things often overlooked by "cross platform/browser" developers:

take it easy,
Charles Reitzel