Unveiling Application Servers: Exploring Definition, Use Cases, Advantages, and Types

Updated on Aug 29, 2022 by

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The Application Server, a specialized server type, came into prominence with the surge of applications on the Internet. As applications grew in size and complexity, driven by the need for enhanced functionalities, there arose a requirement for a robust program capable of efficiently managing and organizing shared application capabilities across networks. This marked the inception of the Application Server, addressing the challenges posed by the evolving landscape of web-based applications.


What Is an Application Server?

An application server is a server that supports the installation, operation, and hosting of various applications. It resides on the server-side of a computing environment and provides the necessary business logic for applications. In a typical web-based program setup, three critical components are the operating system, external resources such as a Database Management System (DBMS) and internet services, and the user's application itself. The application server functions as an intermediary layer between the Operating System, external resources, and the user's application, facilitating smooth communication and data exchange.

application server


Why Use an Application Server?

In a web-based program, many backend processes are invisible to the end-user but are imperative for the smooth functioning of an application. Let's take a look at what happens.

Navigating Client Requests through Web Servers and Application Layers

When an application is accessed, the client's request is sent to the web server. Upon receiving each request, the requirement is to fetch data from the backend database management system. The web server accomplishes this by sending the request to the application server, which resides in the middle layer. Subsequently, the application server takes the request to the DBMS, retrieves the response, and sends it back to the web server. This is how the required action is performed.

Optimal Data Retrieval through Application Server Caching

Every live web-based program needs to perform well when handling multiple client requests, a critical factor for user retention. Throughout this process, fetching data repeatedly from last-tier storage consumes a significant amount of time. In response to this challenge, application servers allow you to cache frequently accessed data. Instead of frequent access to the DBMS, the data is retrieved from RAM. Consequently, the application achieves an optimal minimum response time, leading to improved performance.

Protection of Data and End-User Traffic

A key feature of the application servers that makes them quite important is their ability to secure the data as well as the end-user traffic. This is done because it resides between the web pages and the database. As a result, a direct link between the two is broken. This comes as an advantage as it prevents any cyber-attacks coming in the form of SQL injections. The link is broken and requires business logic to be exposed for validation. This is where any malicious calls can be easily identified. Data is made even more secure as it has the inclusion of authentication to access multiple applications.


What are the Advantages of an Application Server?

A number of benefits that come with application servers include:

A Mechanism To Deal With Components and Running Services

While a web-based program works smoothly, a lot of things are happening in the background. There are a lot of running services that include synchronous as well as asynchronous client notifications. Synchronous notifications allow an application to monitor what is happening without having to control the resources of the system. With application servers, you have a complete mechanism to deal with all components as well as the running services.

Load Balancing

This is defined as the process of distributing the load of requests across multiple servers to ensure optimal performance without compromise. Application servers possess this capability and play a crucial role in maintaining peak performance.

Fault Tolerance

Every system needs a failover mechanism to mitigate the chances of a disaster. Preserving data at all costs makes disaster recovery mechanisms a top priority. Application servers offer comprehensive recovery solutions to address such scenarios.

Improved Performance

The combination of load balancing ability and data caching makes the use of application servers advantageous.

Centralized Configuration Control

Various configuration changes can be made using application servers from a single place. As a result, there is no need to install a copy of configurations on each machine individually.

What are the Types of Application Servers?

Application servers are categorized into three types: active application server, web information server, and component server.

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Active Application Server

An active application server (also referred to as a Stateful server) is defined as a server that provides support in cases where the business logic is kept at the server-side and present in the form of rules, objects, and components.

Web Information Server

If a scenario requires the generation of pages from a database using HTML templates, a web information server is best-suited.

Component Server

In case software components need to access a database, it is facilitated by a component server. Moreover, it is also utilized when there is a need to support transaction processing requests.

application server types



The use of application servers has increased significantly as more and more applications are being brought to the internet. With each passing day, the importance of data is growing. Considering factors such as response speed for end-users, security, and management convenience, it can be concluded that application servers enable you to thrive in a competitive environment.

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