Friday, September 30, 2011

What are Application Servers?

Application servers are software programs or frameworks that are designed to execute any kind of scripts or application (hence the name).
There are a couple of types of application servers differing in the platform that they are using:
  • Java Application servers (one of the most common types of applications you can find on the internet)
  • Zend platforms (used to manage PHP applications)
  • Other platforms (such as Base4, Zope, Spring Framework)
Application servers have a very large number of advantages:
  • Performance (the client-server model is able to improve performance because it limits the network traffic)
  • Security (service providers can efficiently manage data and parts of the actual application)
  • Centralized configuration (you can configure any aspect of the application centrally)
  • Costs (total costs are significantly reduced because of the above mentioned benefits)
Application servers are very common (obviously) because any kind of application that is run on the internet has to be run from such a server. These servers can even refer to a machine that runs an operating system, even if this is not a very common usage of the term, it is still being used in some situations.
Some people have asked if they can run several application servers on the same machine. This largely depends on the resources the system has and on the type of applications that you want to run. If you are trying to run a very demanding application you will probably need to limit the number of application run on that server to one or two at most. By increasing the available resources of the system you can also increase the number of application servers that can run at any one time on the same machine.
In corporate networks each application server might be dedicated to a single application. The reason is most of the time availability and security. it is easier for a network administrator to troubleshoot a network issue if each application has dedicated places to do a test. Also there is no central point of failure

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