A server is both a running instance of some software capable of accepting requests from clients, and the computer such a server runs on. Servers operate within a client-server architecture where “servers” are computer programs running to serve the requests of other programs, the “clients”. This may be to share data, information or hardware and software resources. Data security is extremely important in all these processes.
Typical computing servers are database server, file server, mail server, print server, web server, gaming server, and application server. The clients may run on the same computer, but typically connect to the server through a network.
In the hardware sense, a computer primarily designed as a server is generally specialized in some way for its task. Sometimes more powerful and reliable than standard desktop computers, they may conversely be simpler and more disposable if clustered in large numbers.
- File server: a computer and storage device dedicated to storing files. Any user on the network can store files on the server.
- Print server: a computer that manages one or more printers, and a network server is a computer that manages network traffic.
- Database server: a computer system that processes database queries.
Servers are often dedicated, meaning that they perform no other tasks besides their server tasks. On multiprocessing operating systems, however, a single computer can execute several programs at once. A server in this case could refer to the program that is managing resources rather than the entire computer.
Role of Web Servers
A web server is an information technology that processes requests via HTTP, the basic network protocol used to distribute information on the World Wide Web. The term can refer either to the entire computer system, an appliance, or specifically to the software that accepts and supervises the HTTP requests.
The primary function of a web server is to store, process and deliver web pages to clients. The communication between client and server takes place using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Pages delivered are most frequently HTML documents, which may include images, style sheets and scripts in addition to text content.
A user agent, commonly a web browser or web crawler, initiates communication by making a request for a specific resource using HTTP and the server responds with the content of that resource or an error message if unable to do so. The resource is typically a real file on the server’s secondary storage, but this is not necessarily the case and depends on how the web server is implemented.
Advent of Cloud Servers
Cloud server hosting is a type of hosting in which hosting services are made available to customers on demand via the Internet. Rather than being provided by a single server or virtual server, cloud server hosting services are provided by multiple connected servers that comprise a cloud. Cloud server hosting is also sometimes referred to as cluster server hosting or server on-demand hosting.
Cloud server hosting offers the advantages of increased accessibility and reliability, seamless scalability and potential cost savings, as customers are freed from having to invest in on-premises servers and hardware, and they pay only for the resources they consume. On the other hand, security and lack of access and full control are potential concerns with cloud server hosting.
Origin of Cloud Computing
The origin of the term cloud computing is unclear. The expression cloud is commonly used in science to describe a large agglomeration of objects that visually appear from a distance as a cloud and describes any set of things whose details are not inspected further in a given context.
Another explanation is that the old programs to draw network schematics surrounded the icons for servers with a circle, and a cluster of servers in a network diagram had several overlapping circles, which resembled a cloud.
References to cloud computing in its modern sense appeared as early as 1996, with the earliest known mention in a Compaq internal document. The popularization of the term can be traced to 2006 when Amazon.com introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud.
Since 2000 cloud computing has come into existence. In early 2008, NASA’s OpenNebula, enhanced in the RESERVOIR European Commission-funded project, became the first open-source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds, and for the federation of clouds.
There are three main types of cloud servers:
Public: A cloud is called a “public cloud” when the services are rendered over a network that is open for public use. Public cloud services may be free. Technically there may be little or no difference between public and private cloud architecture, however, security consideration may be substantially different for services (applications, storage, and other resources) that are made available by a service provider for a public audience and when communication is effected over a non-trusted network.
Private: Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party, and hosted either internally or externally.
Hybrid: Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain distinct entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models. Hybrid cloud can also mean the ability to connect collocation, managed and/or dedicated services with cloud resources.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to each server option. These range from power consumption, storage requirements, maintenance, product licensing and more. This array of considerations also mean almost no enterprise has the exact same needs as another and so it is important to ensure you engage someone competent in all of these options and considerations before you make any decision so that the decision you make is the right one.