Skip to Main Content
The alignment of information technology and business has shifted significantly since computing's mainframe era. The high costs of mainframe technology meant that only the largest organizations could afford it, and applications were relatively few. Business was expected to adapt to the technology. This all changed in the 1990s. Industry's widespread adoption of PCs, especially Intel x86-based systems, radically reduced computing costs. The benefits of IT spread to much smaller organizations worldwide, and a large market for hardware, software, and business services emerged. As system integrators began using components from diverse suppliers to build standards-based computers, system costs dropped two orders of magnitude from those of comparably powered mainframes. Many large deployments moved from mainframes to client-server distributed systems. The three-tier computing architecture came to dominate this era, and it introduced a separation between hardware and software. The authors describe how we got to this point and what direction we're headed in for the future.