8. Wireless: The proliferation of wireless devices like cellphones and wireless data networks will require information to be available on small form-factor devices. These can actually be thought of as thin clients, thus putting the onus of computation on the servers.
9. Broadband: As broadband networks proliferate, the distribution of software and access to information on the Internet in real-time will become better. Until this happens, servers will need to be on the company LANs. This is one key difference with the ASP model which has met with only limited success.
10. Desktop Power: Moores Law continues to drive speed on the desktop. We have reached a situation where technology has moved much further ahead of what users need on the desktop (and in fact, what they are likely to need in the coming years). What this opens up is the opportunity for desktops to be used as server appliances, thus dramatically lowering the cost of server-based computing.
11. Emerging Markets: As the developed markets reach a saturation point in their adoption of technology, the action is going to shift to emerging markets, and the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) there. SMEs as the weak links in the supply chains in an integrated global economy. They are the last frontier in technologys relentless march.
12. Computer Recycling: An emerging problem is what to do with the tens of millions of computers that the developing world is disposing off every year as it upgrades to not just more powerful computers but also different types of devices (laptops currently, with the prospects of Tablet PCs in the future). The disposed desktops of one market are the thin clients of another.
By themselves, each of these developments would not have made as much of an impact as they can taken together. The time is right for another look at server-based computing.
As a related aside, look to some of the questions that Microsoft is working to answer with its proposed new operating system, code-named Longhorn, which is scheduled to release sometime after 2005 (Fortune, July 8, 2002):
Why are my document files stored one way, my contacts another way, and my e-mail and instant-messaging buddy list still another, and why aren’t they related to my calendar or to one another and easy to search en masse?
Why can’t my computer protect me from distractions by screening phone calls and e-mails, and why can’t it track me down when I’m out of the office or forward things to me automatically?
Why can’t our computers arrange conference calls and online meetings for us?
Why is it so hard for a soccer mom to set up a simple Website and e-mail group to keep people informed about who’s driving and who’s bringing treats?
Why can’t I tap into all my stuff at home or at work from any device that’s mine, and have it just be available because it knows I’m me?
What Bill Gates and his team probably mean is that there is a need for smarter software and more powerful hardware on the desktop. But read between the lines, and one will clearly see the value of doing all the processing on the server!
Next Week: Server-based Computing Redux