The Complete Guide to Application Servers You Must Know

Updated on Aug 29, 2022

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Ever since applications have been brought over the internet, the importance of an application server has raised phenomenally. This is because this server resides in the middle layer of the 3-tier architecture of web-based programs. Since it resides on the server-side, we cannot see it working from the front end. Therefore, in order to develop a deeper understanding of this server, this guide will provide a walkthrough of the application servers, their types, applications, and advantages.


What Is an Application Server?

Application servers are defined as a server that allows the installation, operation and hosting of applications. While residing on the server-side, it ensures the provision of business logic behind the application. Three sides of a working web-based program include the Operating System, external resources like database management system (DBMS), internet services, and user’s application. Application servers reside between these three sides.

application server


Why Use an Application Server?

When a web-based program is being used, a lot of things are carried out at the backend that are invisible to the end-user. They are imperative because an application can only run in a smooth fashion when these steps are carried out successfully. Let us take a look at what happens.

Taking Client Requests to DBMS and Sending the Received Response

When an application is accessed, the client request is sent to the web server. Upon the reception of each request, the requirement is to fetch the data from the database management system working at the backend. To do that, the web server sends the request to the application server residing in the middle layer. This server then takes the request to the DBMS and gets the response against that request so that it is sent back to the web server. This is how the required action is performed.

Better Data Retrieval Means Improved Performance

Any live web-based program needs to perform well when multiple client requests are being received. This is essential for user retention. Considering the whole process, when data needs to be fetched from last-tier storage repeatedly, it consumes a considerable amount of time. To address this challenge, application servers enable you to cache the data that needs to be accessed frequently. Rather than accessing it from DBMS frequently, it is accessed from RAM. Exultantly, the response time of the application is brought to an optimal minimum.

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 Types of Application Servers?

Application servers are segregated into three types that include an active application server, web information server, and component server.

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

application server types

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.

Enhanced Security for Data and End-User Traffic

As its inclusion separates the web page from the database, it adds to the security layer by preventing SQL injection cyber-attacks.

Load Balancing

This is defined as the process to distribute the load of the requests on multiple servers so that the performance is not compromised. Application servers come with this ability and ensure optimum performance.

Fault Tolerance

Each system needs a failover mechanism to eliminate the chances of a disaster. Data is precious at all costs and disaster recovery mechanisms are always a priority. Application servers provide all over recovery in order to deal with such scenarios.

Improved Performance

Load balancing ability combined with the data being cached makes the use of application servers advantageous.

Configurations Change Handled From One Place

Various configuration changes can be done using application servers from a single place. As a result, you do not need to install a copy of configurations on each machine individually.


The Takeaway

The use of application servers has increased a great deal as more and more applications are being brought to the internet. With every passing day, the importance of data is increasing. And taking the response speed for end-users, security, and management convenience into consideration, it can be concluded that application servers allow you to survive in a competitive environment.

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