THE client-server has been the backbone of nearly all forms of networking. It has required a host of computers and experts to keep it going and has evolved into a sophisticated tool. But the importance of client-server computing is diminishing. Brooks Freeman, general manager of client-server computing at IBM World Trade Asia Corporation's Asia-Pacific Service Division says client-server computing is on the way out. In its place will be an environment called 'network centric'. This environment is one that will be dominated by the increasingly important role being played by wireless technology. Mr Freeman said many computer users expected the client-server to be replaced by a network centric environment. 'Where network centric is more a subscriber environment: the user gets on the network, but he is unaware whose network he is on,' he said. Currently, users are aware of the network they are logged on to, and what group they belong to. Mr Freeman said IBM always kept in mind that meeting changing customer requirements was a priority for the company. This meant finding out the business needs of customers and providing them with the relevant computing solutions. The network centric concept is already a part of the World Wide Web on the Internet. When a user clicks on a word or picture in HyperText, the Web browser may go out on the international telephone system and retrieve a file from a few thousand kilometres away. And the user may not have any idea about this. Mr Freeman said: 'As IBM looks at the information superhighway, the company looks at the Internet and how it is growing. 'IBM is looking at how it can get its own global network service to 240 countries by the end of this year, which will serve as a ramp.' The wireless concept would become a part of the day-to-day running of business organisations, he said. IBM is, of course, a major player in the client-server market. It offers perhaps the widest range of client-server solutions available today, from the PC all the way up to the mainframes. Mr Freeman said IBM was a leader in RISC system technology with the 6000 series. He also reiterated what many technology industry analysts had said in the past: OS/2 remained the best multitasking operating system for the business desktop. IBM also has AIX, their own brand of UNIX, as well as the mainframe operating system AS/400. Needless to say, all of these systems can be seamlessly put together in a client-server environment. In the future, however, technical information related to these various computing systems will not matter to a user. All that will matter is that the user will switch on his computer and, when necessary, log on to a network and obtain or deliver information. A user will be spared all the pain and details of the client-server environment and will only be aware of the network he is logged on to. This was what a network centric system would be able to accomplish, according to Mr Freeman.