The End of The Client-Server Model and the Internet of Things

February 04, 2013 - by rachelbalik

Engineering often requires a heads down focus on very small, detailed problems. But innovation often requires thinking very, very big - sometimes bigger than we even realize we need to think.

We engage in creative problem solving to improve our current systems, but what if to solve our problems, we actually need to think bigger? What happens if the real solution comes from tossing our current systems out the window? According to our CTO Jason Hoffman, that’s actually a quite real possibility.

In a piece last week for VentureBeat titled, “Building for the Internet of things (and the demise of the client-server model)", he asserts that within the next 10 years, everything developers are doing now will become “irrelevant” because the client-server model is going away. Why? Because:

There are now billions, tens of billions of devices sitting on networks. As a result, the sheer number of devices necessitates a dramatically different approach. It’s simply no longer efficient to imagine that every device, and every application running on that device requires a direct user endpoint.

With more devices running more applications while carrying increasingly diverse and sophisticated functionality, the basic assumption that a person must serve as the universal endpoint is not only outdated; it’s unsustainable. And yet the client-server model remains by far the most predominant. We continue to think and operate under the assumption that a human being must in some way process every computer output. In many cases this is inefficient and actually limits the capabilities of the devices and the network that they run on.

The client-server model will be replaced — and soon — with or without many developers’ and engineers’ acknowledgement or participation. Our devices and their uses are already pushing change.

The problem is, we’re not building applications with this is mind. It’s time to start planning for the future, and that means starting to change how we develop things now. Jason explains the implications of this trend and what the engineering challenges will be in the full article in VentureBeat. Check it out and let us know what you think!