It in early days of commercial IT, hardware was very expensive, so it was centralized and rationed. Data was locked up in mainframes where few people could access it. The evolution of mini-computers in the the 70s moved data into many departments. With the PC explosion of the 90s, data moved out to the desktop. Client/server system exploited the PC desktop, networked with other systems and provided access to many more users.
The Internet and the Web browser have helped define a universal way for people to access systems.
Now as we move into the era of “cloud” computing and fast networks, we all want to access data from many different devices and locations. The proliferation of mobile devices – laptops, net books, iPads and PDAs – makes it clear that it’s not about the hardware or applications – it’s all about the data.