With the development of computers, there was a need for people wanting to access more and more information. The need for information led to the development of the internet, which meant the computers globally needed to be connected. Interconnected computers could now provide information and facilitate communication easily. Through these servers developed to act as the central storage of information. To define serves in-depth, we can say a server is a computer system that houses data and other programs that users share in a network. A server can be any computer working even old ones as long as it has enough data storage. Once the user requests information from it or a website, it receives the request process and returns a response. Requests can be anything from asking what time it is? To even requesting some files from the server.
TYPES OF SERVERS.
There are several types of servers available since different servers do different kinds of jobs. Often servers are dedicated computers, so mostly they don’t perform any other sort of task, preferably the one it’s assigned. The common types of servers include:
Mail servers are used to send, receive, and store mail on computer networks. There are different kinds of mail servers like web-based ones, and POP3 email servers like Gmail, which are incoming mail servers. The SMTP server is the one that requests the top sends an email or outgoing mails.
This example of a server is the one that pretty much handles all applications operations. They process a request for dynamic content between a user and the application.
It is a server that lets a user be able to log in or telnet on to a host computer and be able to perform any task that he/she wants. This can happen from any point that you are working on, even if you don’t have the host computer around.
A collaboration server, as the name suggests, refers to a server that lets users collaborate even if they are not in the same place. Different users can work on a project from a different location on this server.
A web server is a type of server that receives a request for a web page or browser. After it has received the request, it processes it and, in response, provides a web page. These sever are what most people use every day while accessing browsers.
The server platform, or mostly known as an operating system, is usually the engine of hardware and software operations. An example of this type of server is the Windows server platform. These platforms are therefore used to host an application or a platform.
WHAT IS A CLIENT?
A client in client-server architecture can be defined as software or a machine like a web browser that knows how to request a server. The client also knows what to do with the response that has been returned by a server.
WHAT IS A CLIENT-SERVER ARCHITECTURE?
Since we now have a clear definition of what a client and a server is we can now define the client-server architecture easily. A client-server architecture is a type of model on the web that separates computers into two sections. Some computers ask for or request information on the internet, and they are referred to as clients. Also, some computers serve those clients by responding to the required information, and they are called servers. Therefore the client-server architecture works through the request-response cycle. This is just a way through which computers communicate via the web. Client-server architecture is based on a centralized system structure.
There is also an alternative way in which computer systems communicate but in a decentralized structure, and that is the peer to peer structure. In peer to peer model, there is no server or client. The interconnected computers themselves can be requesters and response providers. Therefore each computer can be a server or a client, and the function all the same. They can send and receive data directly with each other.
FEATURES OF CLIENT-SERVER ARCHITECTURE.
Client-service architecture has very distinctive attributes associated with it. The features of the client-server model include;
THE MESSAGE-BASED EXCHANGES.
In a client-server architecture, a message is used to act as the conveyer for the service requests and replies. This is one of the primary attributes that is associated with a client-server architecture. When a client requests particular information on the web, the information is sent to the server via a message, and the server processes the information then delivers the response to the client via a message too.
One of the main features that client-server architecture has that gives it an edge is the secrecy of the data. Data is a personal thing, and it should be kept safe and secure. When this data is being transferred from the client to the server, it is usually encrypted to make it secure. This encryption makes it so hard for someone else who wants to access this information.
The other feature about the client-server architecture is the authentication factor. There are instances where some clients are not being accepted or being permitted to use some services. Some requested information may require one to give either a password or any login needed to verify if the client who requested information is the real one. This feature, therefore, helps keep secure some pieces of information.
This feature in client-server architecture refers to the relationship that exists between the client and the server. The client has to always start the process by requesting some information from the server. The server, on the other hand, is just waiting to get the request and process it and provide back a response. The relationship between the client and the server, therefore, is two way. Consequently, one has to be first initiated, client, for the other to provide the requested information, server.
MIX AND MATCH.
The feature mix and match ensures that you can use any type or a mix of clients and servers. This can only work if the client-server architecture is very stable and operates independently. By independent, it means that the client-server architecture cannot be interfered with by the hardware or the operating system platforms.
ACT AS FUNCTIONAL MODULES.
The client-server can also assume the role of a functional module. The module can have a set of interfaces in it. The modules can then perform most of the functions that a client-server architecture does perform. You can also run these functional modules on dedicated machines.
IT SHARES RESOURCES.
The other crucial feature in client-server architecture is that a server can share resources. The server can service multiple clients at a go. The server is also able to regulate how the information is accessed to avoid breakdowns in the system.
The other feature is the service. Client-server is a relationship that serves both ends. Even though these services are requested from different machines, in the end, they provide feedback. The work of the server is to provide service on the required information, and the client has considered the consumer of the service offered.
THE ADVANTAGES OF CLIENT-SERVICE ARCHITECTURE.
CHEAP AND EASY TO MAINTAIN.
In a client-server architecture, easily give out roles and responsibilities to several computers. If a computer fails, breaks down, or you want to upgrade it, this will not affect other servers. The customers will continue to experience the same functionality of the service. There are times some servers may break down, and this can be a significant disadvantage if you are not using a client-server architecture. Being able to maintain this system easily is what gives it an edge over other structures.
Client-server architecture is a centralized system meaning a dedicated server controls it. The data is managed, and is safe, meaning an unauthorized client will not be able to access that system to attack or cause damage to it. The fact that there is one central control means you easily upgrade the one dedicated servers easily compared to having many different computers like in a decentralized system.
THE SHARING OF DATA HAS IMPROVED.
Client-server architecture has facilitated how data is shared. All the data that a client requests and it’s rightfully approved that he/she should access it, then the server will, in response, provide information. This improved data sharing has facilitated the improvement of several fields like education, medicine, and even transport. Having the right access to data has seen a growth in many technological developments in our society today.
IMPROVED ACCESS TO SERVICES DESPITE THE LOCATION YOU’RE.
The client-server architecture has facilitated how we access the information that one wants. A client doesn’t have to access the host computer to request some information. Whatever place you’re located at, you can request the information you need, and the server will, in response, send you the requested information. This is an edge over peer to peer as you won’t access the information if you are geographically far from the connected computers.
COMPREHENSIVE DATA MANAGEMENT.
Since client-server architecture uses a dedicated system server, it tends to have proper data management. Files, videos, or any type of data is stored at the same place. The organization of this data is often perfect, and files become easier to find. In a decentralized system, different information is in all the computers that are interconnected, which can, at times, prove challenging to find.
SECURE BACKUP AND RECOVERY.
Since all the data in client-server architecture is stored in one computer, you can, therefore, easily backup and even recover your data. The ease and efficiency that this data, whether lost or you want to back it up, is made possible by having one system. In peer to peer, it is hard because you have to back up data on every computer in the network. The worst part is if you lose that data, it will be hectic moving from each computer to recover it.
DISADVANTAGES OF CLIENT-SERVER ARCHITECTURE.
IT NEED SPECIALIST.
For the network to function efficiently, it will need to have people who have specialized in networking. The specialist will need to monitor the performance of the servers, troubleshooting issues, and even monitoring network security. You will not be able to do this if you are on your own and have no clue about networking. In peer to peer, setting up the network is so straight forward, and there is no need to have a network specialist to be monitoring your systems and network. This is the advantage of peer to peer compared to a client-server architecture.
IT IS EXPENSIVE.
One of the main disadvantages of client-server architecture is the cost to build it. The network requires complex machines and computers to install and start running it. To manage this system also requires one to have enough resources. Compared to the peer to peer network that only requires an adapter and a few computers, this can be an expensive venture for a person that requires a small scale network.
MAY BE SLOW DUE TO CONGESTION.
When so many clients send requests to a server, the server much slows down due to traffic congestion of requests. At times there are lots of clients that are accessing information from one server, which is the central control that leads to overload. In peer to peer, congestion is a rare thing, and actually, it does the opposite. Instead of overloading and slowing down, it increases as the peers in the network also increase, which gives it an edge.
IF THE SERVER FAILS, THE SYSTEM BREAKS DOWN.
Since client-server architecture is based on a central system, the possibility of a server breaking down will result in the network failing. All the requested information needs to be responded to by the server; therefore, a breakdown will stop the process. In the alternative system peer to peer, if it breaks, the other peers available in the network will still respond to the request and provide the broken parts of the file.
We have been able to understand the meaning of the client-server architecture and have seen how the module performs its tasks. We have also discussed a little bit about its alternative system the peer to peer network, and seen how it too works. Client-server architecture, as it has been pointed out, can be an excellent module to set up for networking, but you have to weigh still the options it provides. The advantages and disadvantages listed should help guide you to see if you need to set up the network.