Hardware, Software… Webware?

cloud computing

In the evolution of the computer industry, we've had Hardware – the equipment necessary to run the applications. And we had Software, the solutions that utilized those resources to do the work that we could purchase and install from different media. Nowadays, you can download the software without the media.

Two Decades of Hardware and Software

Hardware has upgrades and replacements. I have honestly lost track of all the computers I've owned to date. I have the skeletal remains of no less than 5 along with one dead laptop in my home.

Software has installations and upgrades that install changes in the software application. It's an antiquated system that we still work and struggle with today. I had a software update earlier today that required me to shut down and restart my MacBookPro. I've never had an OSX update go bad, but each time I can't help but get a little pensive – thinking that the worst will happen and I'll lose all my work. I have a network drive where I store my downloaded applications and a CD binder where I store the rest (and invariably find them missing).

Software like Google Spreadsheet, Google Analytics, Gmail, ExactTarget, and a ton of others go by ‘web-based applications' or ‘browser-based applications' or we even throw in an acronym, SaaS. It's a terrible acronym and explains the type of business it is more than the type of ‘ware' it is. As well, many SaaS applications still have upgrades or major releases. They don't require installs or rebooting, but they are unavailable for periods of time.

The perfect name for today's applications might be Netware, but it looks like Novell has that term trademarked. Webware might work, but it looks like C|Net is using that. It looks as though browserware may be a possibility – but it's an extra syllable.

Why not Webware?

The bottom line is that Webware (I didn't notice a trademark) is the next evolution of our applications. Today, there really is no need for applications to stop running. We have hundreds of pages in our application at work and can spin up new pages without ever taking down the old ones. I'm sure a little bit of development could happen as well where users can transitions can occur between the old and the new applications.

Databases can be replicated on the fly, or new temporary tables can be built to accomodate the transition. Sure, it's extra work, but my point is that it's possible. We don't have to interrupt our customers anymore.

I don't have a working floppy drive in my home. I rarely utilize my CD/DVD, either. Virtually everything I do is now web-based. When I do download and install software, I usually save a copy on my Buffalo Tech network drive.

Even in business, it's not necessary. When I started up Smaller Indiana for Pat Coyle, we didn't go with a host. The application is built and hosted with Ning. We have all of the domain settings pointing to Google Apps where we can use email as well as Google Docs. No hardware, no software… but webware.

Why don't we call it Webware?


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    I like it. But aren’t you ignoring “middleware” which was going to solve all of our problems in the nineties. I like webware. Interesting that there is no trademark. A pity the URL has been taken like everything else.

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    I really do love all the web-based apps that continue to emerge and get added to my toolkit. I use Google Docs like crazy and for someone who uses 3-4 different computers in a single day, it is a life saver.

    However, every time I start using a new web-based service, there is always this little voice in the back of my head nagging away at one point. That point is that when I lose my internet connection, I lose access to all of my Google Docs, my database of client invoices, my email, my IM, my countless photos on Flickr, etc. etc.

    This shift towards webware causes us to put more and more of our eggs in one basket. And then we tie a long rope to that basket and fling it out into space. As long as the rope is connected, everything is sweet. But when that rope disappears, I may as well be without power, too.

    I guess my point here is that in order for Webware to really take off, we need more reliable, pervasive, and redundant access to the internet. And having a web browser on your phone isn’t the same. Sure, I can connect my laptop to my verizon mobile phone and surf, but if I go over a certain bandwidth or download limit in a single month, I get booted. I don’t need that kind of stress.

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    Funny you should mention this. I was just telling a client yesterday that so much of the software I run exists only on the Internet as web applications. Now I know what to call this stuff… webware!

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    I’ve been saying the same thing for quite some time… I always refer to CMS/Online apps as webware already… I’m surprised we don’t hear about it more.

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