Network Server: Definitions, Types and Uses Explained
As business grows, network servers are needed for enterprises to store files and run applications to improve efficiency or increase reliability in sharing resources. Choosing the right server may seem like a daunting task, given the various network servers with different functions and features. However, we can make it much simpler by grasping some rudimentary knowledge of network servers.
What Is a Network Server?
Network servers are powerful computers or devices used as a central repository to provide various shared resources like disk space, hardware access, printer access, email service, etc, to other computers in the network. Compared with client computers, network servers require higher stability, security, and performance, so they are usually built with more powerful components, including CPUs, chipsets, memory, disk systems, and so on. These components have greater processing, memory, and storage capability to handle more exhausting jobs. Moreover, servers typically use more robust operating systems, running 24/7.
Types of Network Servers in Networking
By Server Form Factor
Rack Server: A rack server is a server designed to be situated in a server rack. This server accommodates all of the hardware devices and can be run as a stand-alone system. And it takes up little space, making it easier to manage connections and maintain the system. They are better suited to medium-sized businesses or enterprises with high demand for servers.
Tower Server: This server is built in a stand-alone chassis configuration and resembles the common desktop PC, but it contains server components. Tower servers come in several different shapes, offering plenty of processing power and don’t require additional mounting hardware. But they take up more space and are not easy to manage. Therefore, they're commonly found in small business environments and other commercial environments.
Blade Server: Blade servers are servers with high availability and high density, designed for large data centers and high-density computing. They are slim and compact, with only CPUs, network controllers, memory, and some internal storage drives. Blade servers can provide greater processing power, take up less space and use less energy than other forms of servers. But, the initial capital, deployment, and configuration costs of blade servers can be high.
Cabinet Server: Cabinet Servers integrate computing, networking, and storage. Targeting different applications, they can deploy different software to provide a total solution. Cabinet servers are easy to maintain, thus easy to achieve unified centralized management and automatic business deployment.
By Instruction Set
CISC Server: CISC stands for Complex Instruction Set Computer. In the CISC server, also called X86 server, the instructions of a program are executed sequentially and serially. The sequential execution makes control simple, but the utilization of each part of the computer is not high and the execution speed is slow.
RISC Server: RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. Its instruction system is relatively simple, making common tasks efficient and low power consumption, but low efficiency for complex tasks.
VLIW Server: VLIW stands for Very Long Instruction Word. This architecture adopts an advanced EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing), which simplifies the processor architecture and reduces manufacturing costs, resulting in low price, less power consumption, and higher performance than servers with other instruction sets.
By the Number of Processors
According to the number of CPUs, network servers can be divided into single-processor servers, dual-processor servers, four-processor servers, and eight-processor servers. At present, dual-processor servers are the most widely used.
The functional requirements for servers vary in different application scenarios. For different applications, servers can be classified as file servers, database servers, and application servers.
File servers are computers responsible for the storage and management of data files so that other computers on the same network can access the files.
Database servers are used to store and manage databases that are stored on the server and to provide data access for authorized users.
Application servers provide access to a wide variety of data on the network and deliver the business logic for an application program.
Functions and Uses of Network Servers
1. Serving Network Requests
The main and important function of a network server is to listen to all requests from client machines over the network connections. And a good demonstration is the interaction between the network server and browser. When a user clicks on a link, the request for the Web page is sent to the corresponding network server, which fetches and assembles the Web page and retransmits it using a protocol like HTTP, and then the user's browser receives the data, transforms it, and displays the Web page.
2. Data Storage and Processing
Another main function of the server is to access, hold and transfer all files and data from other computer machines over the computer network. To be able to accommodate large amounts of data, servers generally have a large capacity and can even provide a database for data storage and processing. Clients can process and access the data stored in the database together, which facilitates the growth of the business.
3. Safeguard from Evil Attack
Network servers can also protect a computer or website from hacker attacks, as they can manage the communication and transmission of information to and from clients. Every time a client requests data, the server checks the client information like IP address. If there is anything suspicious, such as a malware threat, the server can block access to that IP address. This way, data stored on the computer or website can be safe.
4. Data Backups
Data-sensitive applications also require network servers to provide data backup. Companies can configure a backup server that can automatically replicate and store the data processed and stored in the master server. The backed-up data is often compressed, reducing the data footprint and minimizing the impact on the network. If the master server fails, enterprises can restore data from backup servers, which effectively ensures their business data or customer business data remains safe and available.