Part 3 - Client Server Networks

Client server network architecture is a very popular model for computer networking that utilizes both client and server devices each designed for a set utilization. This client server model can be used as a local area network (LAN) or on the internet. Some familiar examples of a client server system on the internet are file transfer protocol clients (FTPs), Web servers, Web browsers and DNS.

Client and Server Devices

When the world started to shift from the era of mainframe computers and the consumer looked up to the personal computer as a viable option, the client server networking started gathering impetus. Client devices are basically PCs with integrated or installed software that can request and receive information. Nowadays, mobile devices are also becoming viable client options.

Servers are devices which have the capability to store a large number of files and databases. They can also include applications like Web sites. Server devices often feature high powered central processors, huge disk drive space and higher memory.

Client-Server Applications

The main feature of a client server model is that it makes a distinction between the applications as well as devices. The network clients like the ones mentioned above, send requests to the server by sending messages. The server then reacts to these knocks and responds to the client device by producing an action for the request. One server has the capability to support a large number of system units. When the processing load increases, like in the case where one server is serving a lot of systems then the servers can also be arranged in a network to optimize output.

A client device and a server device, as might seem clear are two distinct devices. They are optimized for the purpose that they pertain to. For example, a client computer usually has a wide screen to support the application’s user interface. On the other hand, a server does not require a screen at all. At the same time, a server can be present anywhere in the world, but a client computer needs to remain within the computer quarters. If a client device is powerful enough and pertains to the characteristics of a server described above, then it can act as a server computer for another client device.

To simplify the matter, let us have a look at the various applications that you regularly use and which run on a client server network. Email, FTP and Web services, all use a client server model of operation. Each of the clients (your PC) which feature a user interface (text/graphic) is used to send a request to the server (through a computer name or IP address).

Local Client-Server Networks

You might be using client server systems at the very moment without realizing it. Broadband routers comprise of DHCP servers that provide the home computers with IP addresses. These home computers can be referred to as DHCP clients. Print and back-up servers are also examples of this type of network that are used in home or small home businesses.

Client-Server versus Peer-to-Peer and Other Models

The client-server model was by far a more flexible option. That was the main reason why mainframe was slowly discarded and the client-server network became so popular. The network connections in the client-server model didn’t need permanent fixing and could be changed as required. Another feature of a Client-server network is its ability to support modular applications. These modular applications can make the process of software creation pretty easy.

The client-server model is one option to manage the network applications. The foremost alternative to client-server network is the peer to peer networking. Unlike in the client-server model which had a super fast processor called the server, the peer to peer model imparts similar power to each of its constituents. When peer to peer networks offer more flexibility to the user while growing the network, a client-server model offers more advantage in keeping the data secure and classified.