Centralized Versus Distributed Computing in Organizations


Organizations have gone through cycles of distributed computing, centralized computing and back to distributed computing. Most organizations are not certain whether to implement distributed or centralized computing and others who already have existing centralized architecture are wondering whether to migrate to distributed computing or to maintain both the distributed and centralized computing. The choice in most successful organizations is to retain and maintain their original mainframe infrastructure while investing in the distributed client server computing. Centralized databases could be operated in either centralized or distributed computing environment.

Cringley (1993) observed that in 1980 that all corporate computing resided in the central computer room as typified by the mainframe whereas by 1987, 95 percent of corporate power laid in the desk top personal computers (PCs ) which were connected in a network to share printers, e-mail and data. Security would be harder to maintain in a client server environment than in a mainframe centralized environment. Mainframe computers do not have graphical user interface, which makes the PCs associated with the distributed computing more user friendly.

Farber (2002) opines that for business communicating to 100,000 employees who work closely, more centralized framework makes sense. On the other hand, if a business intends to unlock the potential of employees to communicate with one another and collaborate inside and outside organization, distributed computing would be preferred.According to Vizard M. (2001) the ultimate answer to the debate between centralized versus distributed computing models is to combine the best of both models. This implies that the data and the people using the data should be distributed whereas the tools needed to manage the data should be centralized. Substantial progress is being made in this computing direction of combining both modes.

Schuff & St.Louis (2001) argue that the decision of an IT department to choose centralized or decentralized solution depends on the bandwidth availability, application modularity which deals with the size of the software and the uniformity of an organization’s work station configuration. Centralization is best if the organization’s concern is reliability and maintainability but if flexibility, user satisfaction, empowerment, customized software needs are the issues then the distributed computing will be preferred.


Cringley, R .(1993). Sybase’s kertzman decries push to centralize. Forbes 151,7,49

Farber .D.(2002). Word to the wise: decentralize. Tech update. Retrieved August 2005 from, techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/stories/main/0,14179,2901455,00.html

Schuff, D & St.Louis, R .(2001). Centralization vs decentralization of application software. Communication of the ACM, 44,6,88

Vizard M. .(2001). When Computing is an organizational liability. InfoWorld,23,24,8


Source by Augustine Umezurike