It's been 10 years since thousands of IT organizations, frustrated by the limitations of desktop computers and mainframes, concluded that the path to progress lay in client/server computing systems. It seemed logical that distribution of processing across a high-speed network would let you build more scalable applications and save you money to boot.
I worked in one of those IT organizations, and it didn't take us long to realize that this transition would not be smooth--or inexpensive. We learned that networked computing systems are difficult to engineer, and that compromises needed to be made. It took several years for the technology to mature enough to make client-server computing viable.
PAST IS PRESENT
There are lessons here for IT organizations considering the emerging wireless LAN infrastructure market. Today's dominant technology--the smart access point--is akin to the PC of the early '90s. It's become increasingly powerful, and increasingly difficult to manage. There must be a better way.