PCs v. X-terminals: a summary

PCs v. X-terminals: a summary

Post by Roy Han » Fri, 09 Dec 1994 06:51:17



I recently requested comments on the benefits of using "smart" clients
versus X-terminals for deploying W4GL applications.

I got several replies, and I thank everyone who took the time give me
their opinion.  Unfortunately all I got was opinions; no one seems to
have a definitive answer backed up by facts and figures, although one
respondent did baldly assert a 3x to 4x speed improvement for smart clients.

So here is the accumulated wisdom of the net: smart clients might be
faster or they might not.  They might be more expensive or they might not.

PCs running MS Windows are not too reliable, but they are versatile; they
can be used to run word-processors and spreadsheets, as well as the W4GL
application.  They are crash-happy.  There is the possibility of
information theft because of the floppy disc.  They are subject to virus
attacks and incompetent administration.  Maintaining them and supporting
them can be a hassle. (No one had any experience using NT, but my
personal feeling based on my recent experience is that most of these
problems go away with NT--except for the floppy loophole and viruses.)

The application should be written to minimize network traffic.  
INGRES/NET should be replaced by something quicker, or otherwise eliminated.

X-terminals are more reliable and are easier to manage.  Much of the
benefit of smart clients can be had by running the client application on
a second dedicated application host. ie having a database host, an
application host, and X-terminals for display services.

As a result of all this; I think I shall take the path of least
resistance.  Since my customer's frames are designed to look good on the
X-terminals he is using, I think I shall suggest the second dedicated
application host, until this is proved to be bad.

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PCs v. X-terminals: a summary

Post by David Tondre » Fri, 09 Dec 1994 12:19:40




>I recently requested comments on the benefits of using "smart" clients
>versus X-terminals for deploying W4GL applications.

>I got several replies, and I thank everyone who took the time give me
>their opinion.  Unfortunately all I got was opinions; no one seems to
>have a definitive answer backed up by facts and figures, although one
>respondent did baldly assert a 3x to 4x speed improvement for smart clients.

[snip]

Hmmm, Roy, could that have been me?  Can't remember.  If it was, and stats
are what you are looking for, I could get them.  But lets say this, In our
competinng architechures there is no comparison.  In our production
environment (VAX 8400, Mac Centrix's with 18MB RAM running Mac X)  the
startup time for the app is 2-3 minutes and the time to load a new window
runs between 30 and 60 seconds depending on the compexity of the window.  In
our development environment (486 OS/2 host, 486 OS/2 workstation), the app
startup time is under 15 seconds and the time between frames never exceeds
five seconds.  Same app, same database arch, same tuning.

Now the problem here is that generalizations are generally difficult to make
because they generally break down when you get to specifics.  Its not just
performance, its money, politics and _unknowns_ that drive these decisions.  
The unknowns are the fact that often you really are not able to
quantitatively analyze perfomance improvements because of the _extent_ of the
variables.  Anyone worth their weight in analytical gold could find many
holes in our tests.  What happens when you add 20 users to each architecure.  
Then what do the numbers look like?  I think the only way to figure these
things out is to try them.

In our case, we've recommended a dual environment.  For users who don't know
better or aren't 'worthy', they get to keep the X-terms.  Simple, cheap (site
license), slow.  For 'power' or 'worthy' (execs) users, we get special
workstations.  Its a good solution because is allows you to incrementalize
the hardware costs.  It adds slightly to the development time because we have
to tweak each of the forms when we deploy to a different architechure.

It all boils down to my DBA's favorite line -- 'You pay your money and you
take your chances.....'

Regards

David



LCT, Inc.              |         (202) 554-0115          | The first time.

 
 
 

PCs v. X-terminals: a summary

Post by Dana 'FelineGrace' Bourgeoi » Sat, 10 Dec 1994 14:57:31



> I recently requested comments on the benefits of using "smart" clients
> versus X-terminals for deploying W4GL applications.

Good question.

Quote:> PCs running MS Windows are not too reliable, but they are versatile; they
> can be used to run word-processors and spreadsheets, as well as the W4GL
> application.  They are crash-happy.

Let's address these separately.  I really dislike Windows because of all
the internal kludges it contains.  OK, so I'm a snob.  It *is*
crash-happy but so much of the mainstream software runs over it that it
is a necessary evil.  Has anybody tried running their 4GL Clients in a
Windows session over OS/2?  IBM claims OS/2 will contain a crash to a
single session and most testers in the trade rags have confirmed that.  I
would really like to see what hapens if each client app is launched with
its *own* windows session on top of OS/2.  Would that fix the crashing
problems?  OS/2 supports cut and paste between OS/2 sessions but not OLE
so any OLE apps would have to run together (and crash together) in a
common Windows session.

Quote:>  There is the possibility of information theft because of the floppy
> disc.  

I know this is heresy but give *all* users space on the server and remove
the floppies.  This will fail politically unless you have, as a minimum,
corporate email and an Internet email connection (or equivalent
service).  I can't think of the last time I used a floppy disk.  I
transfer work from home to office and back via my online service account
because it is easier and faster.  I ftp between them but mail would work
also.

Quote:> They are subject to virus attacks and incompetent administration.

Software is arriving that simplifies administration.  Virii are a
concern.  We run Macafee software on the PCs.  So far so good (sound of
knocking wood).

Quote:> Maintaining them and supporting them can be a hassle. (No one had any

experience using NT, but my personal feeling based on my recent experience
is that most of these problems go away with NT--except for the floppy
loophole and viruses.)

I also would be interested in reports of experiences with other OSs.  
Linux?  Solaris?  OS/2?  Anyone?

Quote:> The application should be written to minimize network traffic.  
> INGRES/NET should be replaced by something quicker, or otherwise eliminated.

Ooooo....I would be very interested in learning how to do this.  Does an
ODBC driver *replace* INGRES/NET?  I hadn't puzzled that out but I guess
it would.  Are there other ways to replace INGRES/NET besides ODBC drivers?

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1. Summary of Summary of Summary of Totals....

Hello all....I appreciate any input since I am considering taking a butter
knife to my wrist. J/K.  What I am trying to do is get a Grand Summary of
all outstanding amount whether they are zero balances or not....currently
the only way I see anything is having a report with ALL invoices + payments
(under their columns) listed which gives me a total per customer # + name
for invoices (Sum Debit) and payments (Sum Credit).  This way I get it per
customer no problem, if I add the field "Balance" it gives me a total of all
invoices of all customer together being a FULL total no subtractions
splitting only where the customer changes but still it's the same
total...example   cust.A blah blah blah Total = 322,089.21.....cust. B blah
blah blah Total = 322,089.21, etc..  Now if I remove the body to only get
the Sub-Summary without listing all payments and invoices and put "Balance"
I get the same effect.

I have several fields that intertwine..
Amount, Shipping Charge, Credit, Balance=Sum Debit-Sum Credit,
Total....which is.... Sum(Amount)+Shipping Charge, Sum Debit...which
is....Summary=Total of Totals, Sum Credit...which is....Summary=Total of
Credit...which is the payments.

Would appreciate any input if any other information is needed..don't
hesitate to ask.  Thanx for any help.

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