Now, the market is moving beyond client-server to cloud computing, a more open, interoperable environment that promises software-as-a-service and other innovative consumption models.
"The Holy Grail is to deliver IT services on-demand," said Citrix Systems CEO Mark Templeton, during a keynote presentation Wednesday at the Interop technology conference at New York City's Jacob Javits Convention Center.
To help with the transition, Citrix is releasing a version of its NetScaler Web app delivery controller that allows users to pay as they go, according to Templeton.
Templeton said businesses will ultimately be forced to the cloud model because today's client-server setups are too complex, a fact that makes them less than reliable and overly expensive to maintain. "You should be looking to eliminate parts," said Templeton.
In cloud computing, users tap applications and services from remote server farms maintained internally or by a third party. A number of high-profile organizations, including the D.C. municipal government, have recently adopted cloud computing in an effort to reduce costs and complexity.
The consumerization of IT will also push companies to adopt Web-centric, cloud models for business systems as more users experience the technology in their personal lives, said Templeton. "Consumerization will force more IT change over the next ten years than any other trend," said Templeton. "It's a better experience," he added.
Reinforcing the move to the cloud are the Millennials, young employees just entering the workforce. Millennials grew up on iPhones, Xboxes, social networks and other connected platforms, and will be drawn to employers who give them work tools that offer a similar experience. "It's a group of users that wants to control its workstyle," said Templeton.
It's all leading to a world where business is conducted through networks that are virtually borderless, said Marie Hattar, VP for Network Systems and Security Solutions at Cisco Systems. "It's about anywhere, anytime connectivity," said Hattar, who also delivered a keynote at Interop on Wednesday.
To protect itself and its customers in the borderless world, Cisco maintains a Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) Center, which features NASA-style display screens delivering real-time network status updates to teams of security professionals.
To extend that protection further into its ecosystem, Cisco is releasing an iPhone app that will allow network administrators to monitor their systems and respond to threats from their Apple mobile devices. "It's another tool in your arsenal," said Hattar.
Interop's keynote session was wrapped up by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, who attempted to demonstrate several cool new devices and services.
Pogue was at times thwarted by a lack of connectivity, but still managed to show the audience how to use their iPods as iPhones via a Skype connection, how to get free directory assistance from Google, and how to turn their iPhone into an ocarina, which is an ancient, flute-like woodwind instrument.
Register for Interop New York and see the full range of IT solutions to position your organization for growth. At the Jacob Javits Center, Nov. 16-20, 2009. Find out more and register.