Thin Client vs. Fat Client Network Design

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Thin Client vs. Fat Client & Network Design Considerations

Network computing was created in an effort to allow users of a computer application to share data more easily than using stand alone computers. Clients on a client/server network store their application data on a central server. There are two categories of clients on a network. They were originally categorized by their hardware design, but today clients are categorized by the software application design and where the bulk of the processing is done and where the bulk of the application software is stored. A thin client, sometimes called a lean client, is a low-cost, centrally-managed computer. The term derives from the fact that small computers in networks tend to be clients and not servers. Since the idea is to limit the capabilities of these computers to only essential applications, they tend to be purchased and remain "thin" in terms of the client applications they include. The majority of the processing required for applications is done on a server. An example might be accessing a banking software application via telnet or visiting H&R Blocks website to do your taxes online.

The opposite of a thin client network application design is a fat client design. In a client/server architecture, a fat client performs the bulk of the data processing operations. The data itself is still stored on the server. Although the term usually refers to software, it can also apply to a network computer that has relatively strong processing abilities. An example might be QuickBooks for Windows or Microsoft Word. Part A

Centralized computing has been through an obvious cycle in the last 30 years. During the 70s computer hardware was very expensive. It made sense at that time to invest in a server and have dummy terminals to do the computing. The dummy terminals consisted of inexpensive hardware, while the server tended to be expensive but low in numbers. During the late 80s and 90s computer...
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