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Yes Virginia, we still need servers

Over on Facebook, Mike Rodriquez asks an important question.

"I think you've spotted and are working on something pretty big here, but I keep stumbling over the concept of not needing servers. The reason is that the software has to get to the browser somehow, and that's via a server. Now I get the difference between a server to deliver the JavaScript to the browser and a server doing the traditional workload, but I stumble as my first thought is, you do need a server, to get things started."

So, do we need servers, or are they obsolete?

1. Yes! We do need servers. They are not obsolete.

2. The question is how much of the functionality can you move off the server and onto the user's workstation.

3. In the past this meant adding Internet functionality to applications, which we did, but even in 2002, people didn't want to install software on their machines.

4. In the meantime, the runtime environment of the browser has developed, but more than that, developers have learned how to develop fully functional software in this place (or maybe more accurately, I have learned how to do that).

5. So the answer is you can move almost all of it to the user's machine, leaving the server to be very simple, and therefore virtually free.

6. And scaling there is a totally solved problem, by the great engineers at Amazon and Dropbox. That used to be a big problem for me, because I'd get to the point where I have all the functionality I want, but there's no easy way to deploy it. It costs a lot of money to do that, and for whatever reason, the investors didn't believe in me.

7. Now I can do it without their help.

8. This makes me very happy! Because it turns out there's nothing you can't do in there that you can do on a server in PHP or node.js, thanks to the people at Amazon and Dropbox.

9. And finally because they've done it, now I figure everyone else will too. The ones I want most are Evernote, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook. I already have the storage I need with Amazon and Dropbox.

 11/11/2013; 9:41:04 AM.

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