The pros and cons of the technological side of hures

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1. Abstract

The use of technology is very important to any business. Now a day, without the proper use of technology no business can get expected growth. And it is no different to Hures, which is a leading human resource service provider. In this paper, the pros and cons of the technological side of Hures will be discussed. In addition, the required questions related to this assignment will be answered.

2. Introduction

To keep up with growing business demands and to process all the business procedures smoothly Hures implemented its first information system in 1987 and later they switched to client/server architecture to have more flexibility in dealing with customers. Before moving on to the answering the required questions the concept of mainframe and client/server will be taken into consideration.

3. Mainframe

'Mainframe' reminds of a giant room of electronic parts which is 'Computer'. Nowadays, mainframe refers to ultra- reliable large and medium-scale servers which are designed for carrier-class and enterprise-class system operations. Mainframes are expensive, because they have the support of symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and dozens of central processors living within a single system. Mainframes have higher scalability functions. By the addition of clusters, high speed caches and volumes of memory, they connect to a terabyte holding data subsystems. (Exforsys Inc 2010).

According to the encyclopaedia called 'Wikipedia',

"Mainframes are computers that are used largely by big organizations for vital applications, typically mass data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning and financial transaction processing." (Wikipedia 2010).

In other words, Mainframe is a large computer that has the ability to process large amounts of data very quickly. It is also capable of serving lots of users.

The first mainframe vendors were GE, Control Data, IBM, NCR, RCA, Burroughs, Honeywell and Univac. Jointly known as "IBM and the Seven Dwarfs". Through mergers, these vendors shifted within the industry, becoming "IBM and the BUNCH". (Exforsys Inc 2010).

4. Client/Server

Clients and Servers are two detached logical entities that work together over a network to complete a task. So, it can be seen that client/server computing has three components in it namely:

* Client

* Server

* Network

Client is the application or the front end which the user uses to make requests to the server.

Server is an interface which responds to the user queries or through which the user sends data to database or retrieve data from database.

Network manages data or information in database. In the case of multi clients functions the Network takes over the role of coordinating and assigning processes which is very commonly seen in client/server technology.

Since client and server are independent so a link must exist in between these to connect each other for the application to function as a whole. And this is done by network. It works as communication media between client and server. (Exforsys Inc 2010).

4.1 Client/Server system has the following characteristics:

* Service: The server is a provider of service and the client is a consumer of service.

* Shared resources: A server can deal many clients at the same time and control their access to joint resources.

* Asymmetrical protocols: Clients always request a service from a server. Server inactively waits for request from clients. But in some cases a client may pass a reference to a call-back object when it invokes a service. This makes the server call back the client. So the client becomes a server.

* Transparency of location: The server is a process that can stay on the same machine as the client or on a different machine across a network. Normally client/server software masks the location of the server from the clients by redirecting the service calls when needed. So the client becomes a server.

* Mix-and-match: One can easily mix-and-match client and server platforms since they are independent of hardware or operating system software platforms.

* Message-based-exchanges

* Encapsulation of services

* Scalability: Client/server systems can be scaled horizontally or vertically. In horizontal scaling, adding or removing client workstations can be achieved with slight performance impact. And vertical scaling allows either to transfer to an overweighed and quicker server machine or to distribute the processing load across multiple servers.

* Integrity: Centrally managed server code and server data results cheaper maintenance and integrated guarding of shared data.

* Client/server is cost effective and it enhances system's performance. It also felicitates effort and maintenance. (Robert Orafali, Dan Harkey, Jeri Edwards, 1999)

5. Uniqueness of the problems faced by Hures

The problems faced by Hures both in the past and present are not unique. Since Hures is a leading human resource provider and its business was growing rapidly, so it had to set up a technology which would felicitate the business process. Therefore, in 1987 it implemented its first information system by purchasing a mainframe computer that served the altos terminals on the users desktop.

But at later stage, the mainframe turned out to be inefficient. Because the business of Hures was booming with the time and they had to go forward with the challenge of new millennium. The mainframe system they were using was alright up to certain stages. And the mainframe could not cope with the increased amount of users and data handling. So with the expansion of their business and to move ahead with the Y2K, they decided to go for the Client/Server network in 1997.

Initially with the new client/server network, Hures experienced drastic changes in performance. With the increased efficiency, reduced cost of maintenance and improve data handling capabilities brought Hures 18% profit in business. But it was not the end of the world as performance dropped in the distributed environment with the increased load of responding. In addition, the main problem faced by Hures was the difficulty in configuring the applications into client/server modules and in modifying the configuration in response to user feedback.

Therefore, there are no unique qualities to this specific problem. It's been long since Hures facing this problem. With the rapid advancement of technology many servers become obsolete if they are not updated and upgraded within six months of initiation.

6. Alternative Architecture to overcome problems:

In order to overcome the problems faced by the Hures current client/server technology, there is a possibility exists to implement additional servers, perhaps adding an email server. Obviously it depends upon the size and scope of the network within the infrastructure. In addition, by using the similar operating systems on all workstations directly compatible with the OS on the server, an organization can substantially reduce the problems with connectivity, data transfers and general understanding of both systems.

Or, if the Hures is using 1-tier and 2-tier client/server architecture, then they can switch to 3-tier/N-tier architecture to get rid of those problems. For satisfying the requirements of large-scale Internet and intranet client/server applications, 3-tier is the new growth area for client/server computing. 3-tier client/server systems are more scalable, robust, and flexible. In addition, they can integrate data from multiple sources. It is lot easier to manage and set up on the network. With the zero footprint technologies like java applets and beans, most of the code runs on the servers.

6.1 3-tier client/server architectures have 3 important components:

* A client PC.

* An application server and

* A database server.

6.2 3-tier architecture considerations:

* Client program contains presentation logic only

o Fewer resources needed for client workstation.

o No client adjustment if database location changes.

o Fewer codes to distribute to client workstations.

* One server handles many clients requests

o More resources available for server program.

o Reduced data traffic on the network.

6.3 In terms of development issues, 3-tier client/server has the following advantages:

* It felicitates the implementation of complex application rules in application servers.

* Server automatically imposes the changes to business logic.

* By the good value of application software, application server logic is moveable to other platforms of database server.

In terms of performance issues, 3-tier client/server complements superior performance between the client and server by providing only the exact pre-processed data to client.

It is scalable because the overall load can be spread over numerous severs. Internet service will be faster and therefore will require a short download time. And 3-tier can use multiple database systems within the same business transaction. Development of the existing system will be improved due to the availability of the standard GUI based application development packages.

It also provides healthier security by not revealing the database representation to the client and by enabling more fine-grained permission on the server.

(Robert Orafali, Dan Harkey, Jeri Edwards, 1999)

7. Intranet Technology:

According to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia,

"An intranet is a private computer network that uses internet protocol technologies to share any part of an organization's information or operational systems within that organization." (Wikipedia, 2010).

Intranet simplifies the creation and share of corporate knowledge. By maintaining the standards and using the Internet tools, Intranet felicitates content sharing in a limited and well organized group.

The development of an intranet web site using the secure log-ons to access and share the information is not a new idea. Many companies use the internal site to share the vital information between the employees and management only. Such a site can be designed simply by using HTML, JAVA and CSS. Security features can be enhanced by requiring the change of passwords on every users after certain time period. Obviously, one counter position of establishing an internal web site would be that of cost and implementation. Depending upon the OS of the server, it would be mandatory to create the web site and establish users with passwords to access the site. It would take some time to develop and the amount of users accessing the site will need to keep in mind in the overall budget required for implementation.

7.1 Benefits of Intranets: Intranet will provide the following advantages:

1. Implementation advantages:

* It is fast, easy and inexpensive to implement.

* It is based on open standards.

* It makes connectivity with other systems.

* There are many tools available for intranets.

* It is also scalable.

2. Usability advantages:

* It is user friendly.

* Multimedia.

* Hypertext Links.

* Only one interface to information resources and services.

3. Organizational advantages:

* Intranet felicitates access to internal and external information.

* Communication will be improved.

* Collaboration and coordination will be enhanced.

* Intranet supports good links between customers and partners.

* It can also capture and share knowledge.

7.2 Cons of Intranets: There are also some disadvantages, such as:

* Management could lose control of the material provided on the intranet.

* There could be easy security concerns on who are accessing the resources.

* Users can misuse the intranet facility.

* Intranet may cause the 'information overload', delivering too much to handle.

In order to achieve the organizational benefits which intranet can surely bring, the organizational environment needs to be improved. Organization will have to create such a culture where every staff of it will welcome the new technology implemented in it and share information with each other. Where all the staff will work together in order to gain overall organizational success even if it takes someone to expose his/her failures. Because, one can learn from experience and later stage make it accurate.

This is not going to be easy! Because most people are reluctant to share their failures with fellow work mates. But if they do share, then probably they can lead the company towards success. The collective brainpower of an organization is clearly far more effective than individual effort. If everyone works together then they will bring different thoughts, ideas and wisdoms. In order to accomplish this, there must be a culture of information sharing. (Wikipedia 2010).

8. Intranet Software & Internet vs. Traditional Client/Server

Threats to the security of any open network system will always exist. Proper network monitoring on a continuous basis will largely reduce the risk of unwanted access from outside sources. And network security should be the top priority for any organization. Organizations can reduce the allowable events such as the user abilities to plug in devices to their individual workstations by remote monitoring system using camera in various places within the office. But the cost of this will be substantial however, maintaining the integrity of the network of any company should be the highest priority which will result saving a lot of lost revenue.

Though intranet brings various facilities, but it does not justify the needs of having intranet in every organization. IT department of any company or organization should sit with their higher management to discuss the pros and cons of intranet and to decide whether they need intranet at all. Without understanding this point clearly, business will always have the chance not to achieve the various advantages which will potentially have in investing in intranets technology.

Imitation is a very common nature in human kind. Some organizations will tend to implement any technology simply their counterparts have that technology. Without knowing the importance and necessity, there is no point to install intranet.

It is not important that which company has intranet and which company hasn't. But the key point is on what purpose the company wants to use the intranet for. It is very easy to implement such technology but the bottom line is that the success of intranet is very much depends on the future plans that a company might have for it. If a company just puts up a phone directory and menu, and thinks that they have the fully-fledged intranet, then there's something wrong.

But if a company deliberately put up those applications on a trial basis in order to make the user familiar with what an intranet looks like and how it works, then there is a good potential to ask the user to provide feedback on it and how they would like that intranet to be developed.

It is very important for a company to understand the ability of Intranet. Intranet has the potential to become a very necessary part of an office life, just like using the any other machine in the office. When people will apprehend that there is developmental process involved in it, then an intranet could lead on to an extranet, and certainly to electronic commerce which is also known as e-commerce.

9. Conclusion:

It is very important for any organization to have right technological infrastructure in order to run its business smoothly. Hures can also use multiple databases servers to mitigate problems faced. By implementing temporary database server Hures can make its databases responding faster, in this case while one database can respond to immediate queries and other one can respond to other queries thus making the service faster which will eventually satisfy the customer needs.

10. References:

* Exforsys Inc 2010, Mainframe Tutorials, (online). Available at:

* Exforsys Inc 2010, Client/Server Tutorials, (online). Available at:

* Robert Orfali, Dan Harkey, Jeri Edwards- Client Server Survival Guide. Third edition, 1999 [ page 7-33]

* Wikipedia 2010, Intranet, (online). Available at:

* Wikipedia 2010, Mainframe Computer, (online), Available at: