A client-server network is a medium through which clients access resources and services from a central computer, via either a local area network (LAN) or a wide-area network (WAN), such as the Internet. A unique server called a daemon may be employed for the sole purpose of awaiting client requests, at which point the network connection is initiated until the client request has been fulfilled.
Network traffic is categorized as client-to-server (north-south traffic) or server-to-server (east-west traffic). Popular network services include e-mail, file sharing, printing, and the World Wide Web. A major advantage of the client-server network is the central management of applications and data.
Benefits of Client-Server Computing
There are numerous advantages of the client-server architecture model:
- A single server hosting all the required data in a single place facilitates easy protection of data and management of user authorization and authentication.
- Resources such as network segments, servers, and computers can be added to a client-server network without any significant interruptions.
- Data can be accessed efficiently without requiring clients and the server to be in close proximity.
- All nodes in the client-server system are independent, requesting data only from the server, which facilitates easy upgrades, replacements, and relocation of the nodes.
- Data that is transferred through client-server protocols are platform-agnostic.
Difference Between Client and Server
Clients, also known as service requesters, are pieces of computer hardware or server software that request resources and services made available by a server. Client computing is classified as Thick, Thin, or Hybrid.
- Thick Client: a client that provides rich functionality, performs the majority of the data processing itself, and relies very lightly upon the server.
- Thin Client: a thin-client server is a lightweight computer that relies heavily on the resources of the host computer — an application server performs the majority of any required data processing.
- Hybrid Client: possessing a combination of thin client and thick client characteristics, a hybrid client relies on the server to store persistent data, but is capable of local processing.
A server is a device or computer program that provides functionality for other devices or programs. Any computerized process that can be used or called upon by a client to share resources and distribute work is a server. Some common examples of servers include:
- Application Server: hosts web applications that users in the network can use without needing their own copy.
- Computing Server: shares an enormous amount of computer resources with networked computers that require more CPU power and RAM than is typically available for a personal computer.
- Database Server: maintains and shares databases for any computer program that ingests well-organized data, such as accounting software and spreadsheets.
- Web Server: hosts web pages and facilitates the existence of the World Wide Web.
Difference Between Server-Side Programming and Client-Side Programming
Server-side programming refers to a program that runs on the server and focuses on the generation of dynamic content. Server-side programming is used for querying and interacting with the database, accessing files on a server, interacting with other servers, processing user input, and structuring web applications. Popular programming languages for server-side programming include C++, Java and JSP, PHP, Python, and Ruby on Rails.
Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering
Server-side rendering refers to an application’s ability to convert HTML files on the server into a fully rendered page for the client. The web browser makes a request for information from the server, which response, typically in milliseconds, with a fully rendered HTML display. Search engines are able to index and crawl content before it is delivered, making server-side rendering very beneficial for SEO.
Client-Server vs Peer-to-Peer
Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a decentralized communications model in which all nodes in the network have equivalent capabilities and can function as both a client and server. Nodes in peer-to-peer computing collectively use their resources and communicate with each other directly on demand.
An algorithm in the peer-to-peer communications protocol balances the load, making other peers available to compensate for any resource downtime, and rerouting requests as the load capacity and availability of peers changes. A major advantage of peer-to-peer networking is the ability to expand the network to manage a large number of clients.
In client-server computing, a centralized communications model, the server is the central node that communicates with other client nodes. A major advantage that the client-server relationship has over the peer-to-peer relationship is the ability to manage data and applications in one, centralized server.