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Issues of Application Deployment using Remote Services

There is no solution that does not involve some compromises. Although remote services requires users, developers, and system administrators to make few compromises, there are some important ones to consider:

  • Cost. Always the rub. Vendors may give away the client-side application for free, but they sell server-side licenses to support a given number of simultaneous client sessions. These are not inexpensive. For a large number of users, this might represent a prohibitive investment. That is why remote services will never replace the browser for casual applications under current pricing schemes. However, most intensive business applications are used by only up to a few hundred users at one time. In this range, remote services can be very cost-effective, resulting in a far lower total cost of ownership than the alternatives.

  • Not a browser. Why would one pay for remote services when one can use Internet Explorer for free? This can be a tough argument to overcome in a climate in which the default assumption is that the browser is the best and only solution. The answer, of course, is to look at total cost over the product lifetime.

  • Does not leverage client-side resources. The fact that remote services require no client-side application-specific components is a huge advantage. It is also a limitation in that it does not allow distributed client-side processing. Therefore, potentially high-end client resources are not utilized, and the total load must be shouldered by the servers.

  • Requires client application. It is an emotional barrier that remote services require a client-side application. Arguably, these clients are superior to the browser in every way that matters to intensive applications. They can be installed more easily, even without user intervention, and are also free like the browser. However, the browser has the perceived advantage of coming along with the operating system.

  • Not infinitely scalable. Although remote services are completely independent of application complexity, cost constraints limit the number of simultaneous users. It cannot be considered for horizontal market applications.

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