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The Changing of Midrange and Client-Server Platforms

The decade of the 1990s saw many companies transforming themselves in several ways. Downsizing and rightsizing became common buzzwords as global competition forced many industries to cut costs and become more productive. Acquisitions, mergers, and even hostile takeovers became more commonplace as industries as diverse as aerospace, communications, and banking endured corporate consolidations.

The push to become more efficient and streamlined drove many companies back to centralizing their IT departments. The process of centralization forced many an IT executive to take a long, hard look at the platforms in their shops. This was especially true when merging companies attempted to combine their respective IT shops. It was important to evaluate which types of platforms would work best in a new consolidated environment and what kinds of improvements each platform type offered.

By the early 1990s midrange and client-server platforms had both showed improvements in two areas. One was the volume of units shipped, which had more than doubled in the past 10 years. The other was in the types of applications now running on these platforms. Companies that had previously run most all of their mission-critical applications on large mainframes were now migrating many of these systems onto smaller midrange computers or more commonly onto client-server platforms.

The term server itself was going through a transformation of sorts at about this time. As more data became available to clients—both human and machine—for processing, the computers managing and delivering this information started being grouped together as severs, regardless of their size. In some cases even the mainframe was referred to as a giant server.

As midrange computers became more network oriented, and as the more traditional application and database servers became more powerful, the differences in terms of managing the two types began to fade. This was especially true in the case of storage management. Midrange and client-server platforms were by now both running mission-critical applications and enterprise-wide systems. The backing up of their data was becoming just as crucial a function as it had been for years on the mainframe side.

The fact that storage management was now becoming so important on such a variety of platforms refined the storage management function of systems management. The discipline evolved into an enterprise-wide process involving products and procedures that no longer applied just to mainframes but to midrange and client-server platforms as well. Later in the decade, Microsoft introduced its new NT architecture that many in the industry presumed stood for New Technology. As NT became prevalent, storage management was again extended and refined to include this new platform offering.

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