How AJAX kills the application server

AJAX's 'client-service' architecture eliminates the need for an application server to connect the Web client to back-end resources.

Everyone focuses on how a new breed of AJAX applications will gradually eat into Microsoft's bread-and-butter desktop application revenues, but the effect on the bottom lines at Sun, Oracle, BEA, IBM and any other vendor that sells a lot of application servers will be much more immediate.

An unnoticed side-effect of implementing rich internet application platforms — whether they're AJAX or anything else — is that this 'client-service' architecture eliminates the need for an application server to connect the Web client to back-end resources. Sure, if you're a company like Zimbra implementing a new resource at the back-end, in its case an email server, then obviously that server is a new addition. But it's still devolving more processing to the client, so it requires far less horsepower than it would to deliver the same functionality to a wholly web-based client.

I was first alerted to this in a conversation a few weeks back with Adam Gross, VP marketing at Salesforce.com, who told me about early customer reaction to his company's AJAX toolkit. Customers were excited because it meant they could connect directly to the AppForce hosted platform without having to run up an application server as an intermediary. "We can just store the XML and the JavaScript on our server and deliver that as necessary to the client," he explained. "A lot of the time, developers are restricted by the fact their company can't deploy a new piece of server hardware [to operate a new application]. [Using AJAX] liberates them to do things that are completely within their own resources ... it lets you do more with no server infrastructure."

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