Chapter 3 - Networking and Group Computing

Client/Server Networking

Client/server is a type of computing that intelligently divides tasks between clients and servers. The client (usually the less powerful machine) requests information from the servers. The server (usually the more powerful machine) accepts the client’s request, performs computations, satisfies clients’ requests and sends a response. The client is sometimes referred to as the front-end component and the server is referred to as the back-end component.

Client/servers networks use a dedicated computer called a server to handle file and print services for client users. A client/server network may have several server computers to handle the server needs for the client group, which are all interconnected. Workstation computers connected to the server network are called clients. Client computers are at the worker’s desk. They can use the server’s printers or even save files to the server storage areas. As the network system grows, separate servers for print, fax and mail can be connected. Servers called redundant file servers can be connected to your primary server that backup your data instantly, and if your primary server crashes, the user will not even know it.

Servers are generally high-powered machines, since they are required to handle the computing needs of many client workstations. A server is a computer or a software package that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. For example, if the web server is down, WWW browsing is disabled. A server host can have several different packages or applications running on it, thus providing many different services to network clients.

Servers can be devoted to specific network operating functions, such as a mail server, print server, file server, web server, and so on. A Web server enables Internet browsing, Intranets, Extranets, etc. Also, since they need to handle the computing requests from several computers at once, they must run an advanced operating system. Clients can also be powerful machines, but can consist of a variety of low and high-powered machines connected to the same network.

Network operating systems manage various network functions, such as file storage, application software, and printer use. Network operating software includes:

  • Novell NetWare™
  • IBM OS/2 Warp Server™
  • Windows NT Server™
  • Banyan Vines (Unix) ™

Specific software applications developed for this type of networking are referred to as client/server applications. Client Operating Service (COS) is the software that resides on a computer and handles the interface between the hardware and the applicable software. The most popular COS is Windows XP and Vista™.