Servers have changed the way people do business and live their daily lives. A server is basically a computer dedicated to provide different services to other computers. It is a computer program or a device that provides functionality for other programs or devices, called "clients". Servers can provide various functionalities, often called "services", such as sharing data or resources among multiple clients, or performing computation for a client. A single server can serve multiple clients, and a single client can use multiple servers. A client process may run on the same device or may connect over a network to a server on a different device. For large organizations or people that need added computing power, data storage space, or other services, a server can help ease the workload and increase productivity.
Different servers have different purposes. The most common types of servers are;
Application servers provide a wide range of applications to other computers on a LAN or WLAN network. For most companies, this might mean just one type of application, or it can be several applications, like imaging, word processing, or even security applications that keep the network safe. Application servers can also run operating systems. Mail Servers: Mail servers are responsible for sending, receiving, relaying, and storing e-mails. Microsoft Exchange server is one of the most common types of servers today, especially among corporate users. The actual mail server should not be confused with mail applications (which can also work on application servers), such as Mail or Eudora, which are part of the entire email system, but only work to forward the messages to the actual mail server.
Web servers are probably the most common type of server encountered. Simply, it is a server that hosts websites, and thus it must be connected to the Internet 24/7. People who own a small business or personal site usually rent space from web hosting companies, rather than purchase their own. Web hosting companies own many 1U rack-mounted systems with several servers that store numerous websites for different clients. However, large businesses that may experience a lot of traffic on a regular basis find it more efficient to purchase their own dedicated web servers.
Database servers provide data and database services to client computers. This type of server delivers a variety of tasks, such as data storage, manipulation, analysis, archiving, and almost any type of non-user-specific task that has to do with data.
File servers are computers that store files and provide access to them at the client computer's request. This type of server can be dedicated or non-dedicated. Dedicated file servers are exclusively used just to store and access data, while non-dedicated ones can also share the function of other types of servers.
Home servers, as the name implies, are servers for home use. These days, many people own multiple computers and devices at home, and want to do activities beyond typing and searching the Internet, such as stream movies, share files and resources, and store (and backup) pictures, movies, and music files. These types of servers can do these things and more, and are usually geared towards the everyday user that just wants a simple plug-and-play machine to enhance the personal computing experience at home.
Online gaming takes up vast amounts of resources, and that's where game servers come into the picture. Online games, especially multiplayer games, consume a lot of bandwidth. Characters, controlled by real people, interact in a virtual game world. While this world is not hosted by a server, each player interacts with the world and the other players through information sent by the server.
Print servers allow several computers to access a printer at one time, so there's no need to keep plugging and unplugging wires when different computers need a printer. These are often small, simple devices that can be easily set up at home, at small offices, or even at virtual offices.
In some situations, the type of server hardware you use is the least of your concerns, but if you are setting up your own data center, you will need to decide which type of server you prefer. The three main types of servers are: towers, racks, and blades.
The most basic kind of servers on the market are tower servers. You probably recognize towers, as they look very similar to desktop PCs. they are ideal for small, remote or branch office environments, and offer maximum in-chassis flexibility and all-inclusive server/storage solutions. If space is not a concern, you can usually get more drives and more hardware into a single tower. If you need scalability, however, space can become a real concern.
Racks are designed to hold multiple servers, and rack servers are specially constructed to fit in these small spaces. They are essentially stacked right on top of each other, which does make cooling more difficult, while scaling is much easier. A rack server is good for buyers who want to maximize the available space in a data center, and need flexibility to combine servers that perform different duties. Racks are a good option for servers that need a large amount of internal dedicated storage. These servers are better for a medium sized business or a small one that is well experienced with using servers. In summary, they offer maximum computing power in a space-saving design.
Blade servers are the most compact of the three types of server. Although they are very similar to rack servers in design, some components have been removed from blade servers and are instead shared among multiple ones. This makes blade servers even thinner. This type of server has a number of advantages because it saves both power and space while providing more processing power. They are ideal for data centers and use with external storage, and offer maximum computing power in space, power and cooling saving designs. This is a higher end server that is well suited for a business that needs a lot of computing power.
Ultimately, the type of server you choose depends on your needs. If space is your main concern, you may opt for racks. If cooling will be a problem but not space, you may choose towers. If money is not a problem and you need space and consolidation, blades are the way to go.
Memory is always important when purchasing a server. It is advisable to get a server that allows for the upgrading of memory in the future.
Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is where multiple hard drives are combined into one storage system. With this kind of system, data is written across multiple disks for a more reliable storage system.
The hard drive can be thought of a file cabinet of sorts. This is where all the data will be stored. The size of the hard drive required depends on how much information the you will be storing, so you might want to get a hard drive with expandable storage.
A server usually requires a larger power supply than a desktop computer. A server with many hard drives may require an even larger power supply.
This is an important component that manages traffic from the different server users. Servers that do not have this part built into the motherboard will need one that can be added.
Also known as the motherboard, the system board is the main circuit board of the server. The system board contains a number of components including the CPU. The system board has ports for other devices and may have other built in features like a graphics adapter or network interface.
The processor can be thought of as the server's brain and is also known as the CPU. The ability of the server to support various applications depends in part on the speed of the processors and how many of them are in the server. Some factors to consider when it comes to the processor include its clock speeds, cache size, and core count.
This measures how fast the processor works and is typically measured in gigahertz (GHz). Faster processors generally perform better as the server may be able to better handle more users at the same time.
Each processor has its own built in memory that is on or near the CPU. A larger cache size usually improves the performance of the processor.
This refers to the number of physical processors located in the processor. A processor with multiple cores will be able to better handle multitasking.
There are many features to consider when buying a server, and it really depends on the needs and uses of the organization or individual. However, whether it's for home, small business, or even for enterprise use, you should look into these features as well before making your buying decision.
Environment refers to the type of computers that will be part of the network. For example, if all the computers on the network will be Apple Computers, then the server should be compatible with a Mac OS environment. The same goes for Windows, Linux, and mixed-OS environments.
Small businesses will be more conscious of the amount of money they spend on servers and hardware. While it doesn't make sense for a company with 10 employees to buy an entire room of servers, growth and development should be taken into account when purchasing a server. As the business grows, the owner might realize the need to add more capacity and storage, and thus the server should be able to handle expansion fairly well.
Backup is important for most, if not all, businesses. Losing data or experiencing downtime for even 1 hour can mean loss of important clients or profit. Servers should have a backup, and in some cases, a backup for the backup should something unforeseen happen.
Server space means the physical area where the servers will be placed on-site. Most small businesses dedicate a corner or closet, but for bigger businesses (and more servers), a dedicated server room may be necessary. In addition, the room or closet should have good ventilation and temperature control, as servers tend to run very hot.