Browser based applications seem like a good idea. You deploy a server with an application and users simply use a web browser to access it. No installation, patching, or maintenance of the end user’s workstation is required. What could be more simple?
As I wrote previously, this isn’t entirely true. On my Windows machines, it is common for me to have apps that require different versions of Internet Explorer or FireFox. It is hard to manage PCs when one application requires IE9 and another requires IE10. Some work on FireFox but only new versions while other won’t work with anything news that something that was released two years ago.
Sadly, it is still the big names in the business causing most of this havoc.
I recently discovered that the transition from Windows 7 to Ubuntu Linux was easier than the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8. I still believe that but I ran into new complications.
Adobe Flash is no longer supported under Linux. Java is no longer supported in Chrome on Linux and OS-X. Imagine what that will do to your management capabilities! The vSphere 5.5 web client requires a new version of Flash and thus cannot be managed via Linux. Most of my Dell servers have management cards requiring Java. They are difficult to manage under Linux. I don’t even want to talk about the complexities of using a browser to manage my Cisco gear. Put simply, Linux is awesome but incompatible with many of the web applications available today.
It’s getting so complicated I am tempted to run a bunch of terminal or Citrix servers with specific browser versions so that when a user launches an app, I can launch it in the correct browser and version. What a pain.
If you are a web developer, I beg you, please do not write code that requires a specific browser or version of Java, Flash, etc. The overlapping requirements quickly combine to make it impossible to use every web application we have from a single machine. This is a real problem.
In theory, HTML 5 will save the day but I suspect it will take a decade for people to convert legacy applications to it and by then something else will be the new thing which breaks our applications.
Think carefully about using browser based applications. If you have more than two, you may have to have multiple machines just to be able to use them.