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This paper describes in detail a Java-based, client-server architecture specifically designed to allow a flexible management of remote instruments. The main attributes of the proposed solution are portability and extensibility. The former feature is assured by the employment of the TCP/IP protocol suite and by the Java language properties. The latter is due to the high level of abstraction of the system implementation. This approach addresses a wide range of possible applications with high code reusability. In fact, the proposed architecture permits to drive many kinds of different devices and can be easily upgraded simply by adding a limited amount of code on the server computer whenever a new instrument is connected to the system.