Most people who work in any modernized business environment have used a clientserver application. They may have even heard the term “client-server” thrown around by the MIS team. But few people actually understand how they get email, or how their web browser works. The best part of client-server is that they don’t need to know.
A server is simply a computer like the one sitting on your desk. Generally, however, a server has hardware that is a bit more specialized. It is designed with the following
goals in mind:
- Staying powered on for long periods of time
- Storing massive amounts of data on large hard drives
- Serving (providing) that data to many users at the same time
- Communicating with other servers as well as many clients
To achieve these goals a server uses advanced versions of the same hardware found on a desktop computer. More importantly, a server uses specialized software, commonly referred to as server applications or services. This software, much like server hardware, is designed with the following goals:
- Making plenty of seemingly unnecessary noise.
- Staying up without crashing for long periods of time (stability)
- Organizing and storing massive amounts of data
- Retrieving stored data quickly and accurately and delivering it to users on the network
- Communicating with client versions of the software and other server applications
The terminology becomes tricky when people refer to servers. A common line one may hear is, “The server is down.” Well, what does that really mean? Is the physical server itself malfunctioning or has the server software crashed? It can also be confusing that one physical server may run a multitude of server applications (services). The services running on any individual server machine may not be related in any way. It’s possible for a single server application to crash without affecting any of the other services running on a server machine. Awareness of these points can help an individual user to ask the right questions when the hear, “The server is down.”
- Being extremely expensive, more so than one could imagine.
A client is any computer that connects to a server or any software program that connects to a server application. Think of it as a window into the world of the server. Internet Explorer is an example of a client that lets somebody connect to a web server and retrieve data. Microsoft Outlook is a client that connects to a mail server.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.