What is a Server? How many types of servers are out there?
A server has many functions, and they come in different types to facilitate different uses. Let’s have a brief idea of what is a server before getting to know about the different types of servers.
What is a Server?
A server is a device with a particular set of programs or protocols that provide various services, which other machines or clients request, to perform certain tasks. Together, a server and its clients form a client/server network, which provides routing systems and centralized access to information, resources, stored data, etc. At the most ground level, one can consider it as a technology solution that serves files, data, print, fax resources and multiple computers.
The advanced server versions, like Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 enable the user to handle the accounts and passwords, allow or limit the access to shared resources, automatically support the data and access the business information remotely. For example, a file server is a machine that maintains files and allows clients or users to upload and download files from it. Similarly, web server hosts websites and allows users to access these websites.
Clients mainly include computers, printers, faxes or other devices that can be connected to the server. By using a server, one can securely share files and resources like fax machines and printers. Hence, with a server network, employees can access the Internet or company e-mail simultaneously.
Types of Servers
The multiple types of servers or types of network servers are as follows:
Server Platform: Server platform is the fundamental hardware or software for a system which acts as an engine that drives the server. It is often used synonymously with an operating system.
1. Application Server: Also known as a type of middleware, it occupies a substantial amount of computing region between database servers and the end user, and is commonly used to connect the two.
2. Audio/Video Server: It provides multimedia capabilities to websites by helping the user to broadcast streaming multimedia content.
3. Chat Server: It serves the users to exchange data in an environment similar to Internet newsgroup which provides real-time discussion capabilities.
4. Fax Server: It is one of the best options for organizations that seek minimum incoming and outgoing telephone resources, but require to fax actual documents.
5. FTP Server: It works on one of the oldest of the Internet services, the file transfer protocol. It provides a secure file transfer between computers while ensuring file security and transfer control.
6. Groupware Server: It is a software designed that enables the users to work together, irrespective of the location, through the Internet or a corporate intranet and to function together in a virtual atmosphere.
7. IRC Server: It is an ideal option for those looking for real-time discussion capabilities. Internet Relay Chat comprises different network servers that enable the users to connect to each other to an IRC network.
8. List Server: It provides a better way of managing mailing lists. The server can be either open interactive discussion for the people or a one-way list that provides announcements, newsletters or advertising.
9. Mail Server: It transfers and stores emails over corporate networks through LANs, WANs and across the Internet.
10. News Server: It serves as a distribution and delivery source for many public newsgroups, approachable over the USENET news network.
11. Proxy Server: It acts as a mediator between a client program and an external server to filter requests, improves performance and share connections.
12. Telnet Server: It enables the users to log on to a host computer and execute tasks as if they are working on a remote computer.
13. Virtual Servers: A virtual server is just like a physical computer because it is committed to an individual customer’s demands, can be individually booted and maintains the privacy of a separate computer. Basically, the distance among shared and dedicated (hosting) servers is reduced providing freedom to other customers, at a less cost. Now, it has become omnipresent in the data center.
14. Web Server: It provides static content to a web browser by loading a file from a disc and transferring it across the network to the user’s web browser. A web server intermediate exchange by the browser and the server, communicating using HTTP.
Other types of servers include Open source servers, Gopher server (like a plain document, similar to WWW and the hypertext being absent) and Nameserver (applies name-service protocol). The various servers can be categorized according to their applications. Servers along with managing network resources are also dedicated, i.e., they perform no other task other than their server tasks.