What does a server do in your IT infrastructure?
While most businesses around the world do have a server, many do not know what a server actually does in their IT infrastructure. A server plays a very important role in business technology. However, most people are discouraged from understanding what servers do just because of the sheer size of some servers which can be intimidating.
A business will need to have a server setup correctly in order to be able to store and access data smoothly across their network. In order to understand better, let’s first look at what a server is and what a server does.
What is a server?
Simply put, a server is a computer that serves or provides information to other computers. These computers are often called clients and are able to connect to a server through either a local area network or a wide area network, such as the internet. As mentioned above, a server is a vital piece of any IT infrastructure.
What does a server do?
A server collects and sends information across a network, which could be a local network, like your business network, or a wider network across multiple locations. It is worth noting that any computer running the right software can act as a server. However, most people think of huge, powerful machines that push and pull data across the web when they hear the word server.
How does a server work?
We are accessing a server every time we use the internet. For instance, when we enter a URL for any website into a browser, the computer will communicate with the server that’s hosting that website. The server then pulls the data onto our computers.
Let’s take things one step at a time to understand how the process works.
- We enter a URL and the web browser requests a web page.
- The web browser will request a full URL of the website it has to display.
- This information will be sent to the server.
- The web server searches for all the data needed to display the site (which is why some websites take longer to load than others).
- The web browser obtains the data and displays the site.
Everything else you should know about a server
A server is just another computer but there is no one working behind it or monitoring it. In most business networked environements there are mail servers that deal with all the mail traffic and storage. Or you might find a database server that houses the corporate database or a print server that handles all printers.
Other types of servers include file servers, mail servers and web servers. As the name suggests, a web server will serve web pages to computers that connect to it and can also resolve scripting languages like JSP, PHP and ASP.
A mail server can keep records of email accounts and send and receive emails. For instance, when we send an email, the message is sent by a mail server which would be using the SMTP protocol.
A file server stores files which are accessible by other computers. File servers are typically used within local networks and normally require some sort of authorisation, such as a password so that the files are stored safely.
While these are some of the common examples of servers, it’s important to remember that there are many more types of servers that exist. If the necessary server software has been installed on a computer and the hardware is powerful enough to process the workload, just about any computer can be used as a server.
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