A Server is a computer, or series of computers, that link other computers or electronic devices together. They often provide essential services across a network, either to private users inside a large organization or to public users via the internet. For example, when you enter a query in a search engine, the query is sent from your computer over the internet to the servers that store all the relevant web pages. The results are sent back by the server to your computer.
In computing, the term server is used to refer to one of the following:
A computer program running as a service, to serve the needs or requests of other programs (referred to in this context as “clients”) which may or may not be running on the same computer.
A physical computer dedicated to running one or more such services, to serve the needs of programs running on other computers on the same network.
A software/hardware system (i.e. a software service running on a dedicated computer) such as a database server, file server, mail server, or print server.
Many servers have dedicated functionality such as web servers, print servers, and database servers. While nearly any personal computer is capable of acting as a network server, a dedicated server will contain features making it more suitable for production environments. These features may include a faster CPU, increased high-performance RAM, and typically more than one large hard drive. More obvious distinctions include marked redundancy in power supplies, network connections, and even the servers themselves.
3.2 SPECIALIZED SERVERS
Within the broad classification of machines that functions as network servers, it’s possible to assign a variety of specialty roles, depending on the services that such servers provide. On large networks, in particular, servers with specialized roles to play will often be deployed. Specialized server types typically include application servers, communication servers, domain controllers/directory servers, fax server, file and print servers, mail servers, and Web servers.
3.2.1 APPLICATION SERVERS
Application servers supply the server side of client/server applications, and often the data that goes along with them, to network clients. A database server, for instance, not only supplies the query processing and data analysis facilities; it also acts as the repository for the huge amount of data that often reside within a database.
Application servers differ from basic file and print servers in that they provide processing services as well as handling requests for file or print services, where the client does its own file handling and print processing. Clients generally must run specialized client side applications (or plug-ins to other applications) to enable them to communicate with an application server. For such applications, the client-side typically formulates request and ships them off to the application server, which handles all the background processing of the request and then delivers the result back to the client-side part. The client-side then formats and displays those results to the user.
3.2.2 FAX SERVERS
Fax servers manages fax traffic for a network, receiving incoming faxes via telephone and distributing them to their recipients over the network and collecting outgoing faxes across the network before sending them via telephone. Such servers typically use one or more fax modem interfaces (often referred to more simply as fax modem) to perform these tasks.
3.2.3 FILE AND PRINT SERVERS
File and print servers is the mainstay of the server world in that they provide basic networked file storage and retrieval services, and access to networked printers – functions that define the fundamental uses of most business networks. Such servers let users run applications locally but keep their data files on the server (and print these file when they want hardcopy output).
3.3.4 MAIL SERVERS
Mail servers handle e-mail messages on behalf of network users, which may involve simply acting as a clearinghouse for a local exchange of message. But mail servers also commonly provide “store-and-forward” services, where incomin g e-mail messages are held at the server while waiting for users to access them. Likewise outgoing messages can be stored on the server until a connection to an appropriate external mail server is established, so that they can be forwarded to their intended destinations.
3.2.5 WEB SERVERS
As companies increasingly turn to software using the TCP/IP protocol (the one used on the Internet) to distribute information, no one service has gained popularity as quickly as the
World Wide Web (www). Many organizations intranets (in-house TCP/IP-based networks) are taking great advantage of IIS (internet Information Server) for their organisational services. Windows remains Microsoft’s primary operating system software offering designed to handle this broad range of needs.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
What do you understand by a computer Server?
In this unit you have learnt about the server and its features. You have also learnt that there are different specialised servers that are used for institutional purposes.
A Server is a computer, or series of computers, that link other computers or electronic devices together. They often provide essential services across a network, either to private users inside a large organization or to public users via the internet.
6.0 TUTOR MARKED ASSIGNMENT
1). Distinguish between the file and print server and a fax server?
2). Explain what you understand by the term server
3) List and explain the different types of specialised servers.