The benefits from client/server are truly praiseworthy but there are also risks involved in the transition from mainframe (or PC) to client/server. We can classify these risks into four categories: technological, operational, economic and political.
Technological Risks: The technological risk is quite simple – Will the new system work? The short-term aspect of this question is – will it literally work? But more important is the risk that in the long run the system may grow obsolete. That it will become obsolete is probably inevitable thus the question becomes – how soon will it become obsolete. To resolve this issue, the firm and the IT consultant/division should understand system standards and market trends and use them in their decision making processes while deciding what system to incorporate into their organization.
Operational Risks: These risks parallel the technological risks in both the short and long run. Respectively, they are: will you achieve the performance you need from the new technology and will the software that you chose be able to grow or adapt to the changing needs of the business. Once again sound planning and keeping an eye to the future are the only remedies for these risks.
Economic Risks: In the short run, firms are susceptible to hidden costs associated with the initial implementation of the new client/server system. Cost will rise in the short term since one needs to
maintain the old system (mainframe) and the new client server architecture development. In the long run, the concern centres around the support costs of the new system.
Political Risks: Finally, political (people) risks involved in this transition are addressed. Here, the short-term question is – will end-users and management be satisfied? The answer to this is definitely not, if the system is difficult to use or is plagued with problems.
The long run question concerns costs. ―Unless the mainframe is completely replaced within the larger organization, the total cost of transaction processing for the corporation as a whole goes up when one division creates its own independent system and moves off the mainframe. They may have reduced their local cost of transaction processing, but they have increased the cost of processing for divisions remaining on the mainframe, and this creates political problems.‖
There are many layers of complexity and compatibility issues between the client and server.
Capabilities of the software such as security and management tools are not as mature as mainframe counterparts.
Takes time to become proficient with these tools.
Information system departments may balk at giving up control of a centralized computing environment.
One of the drawbacks of client/server computing is security. Client/server computing did not originate with the security that is needed for organizations to operate in today‘s environment. But as client/server computing grows into the 21st century, its security is definitely improving and client/server computing is getting significantly closer to its ultimate goal, which is to ―allow every network node to be accessible, as needed by an application and to allow all software components to work together.‖