What is server? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Network hardware glossary:

A server is a computer program that provides services to other computer programs (and their users) in the same or other computers. The computer that a server program runs in is also frequently referred to as a server. That machine may be a dedicated server or used for other purposes as well.

In the client/server programming model, a server program awaits and fulfills requests from client programs, which may be running in the same or other computers. A given application in a computer may function as a client with requests for services from other programs and also as a server of requests from other programs.

Servers are often categorized in terms of their purpose. A Web server, for example, is a computer program that serves requested HTML pages or files. A Web client is the requesting program associated with the user. The Web browser in your computer is a client that requests HTML files from Web servers.

Here are a few types of servers, among a great number of other possibilities:

An application server is a program in a computer in a distributed network that provides the business logic for an application program. 

A proxy server is software that acts as an intermediary between an endpoint device, such as a computer, and another server from which a user or client is requesting a service. 

A mail server is an application that receives incoming e-mail from local users (people within the same domain) and remote senders and forwards outgoing e-mail for delivery. 

A virtual server is a program running on a shared server that is configured in such a way that it seems to each user that they have complete control of a server. 

A blade server is a server chassis housing multiple thin, modular electronic circuit boards, known as server blades. Each blade is a server in its own right, often dedicated to a single application.

A file server is a computer responsible for the central storage and management of data files so that other computers on the same network can access them.

A policy server is a security component of a policy-based network that provides authorization services and facilitates tracking and control of files. 

See an introduction to servers in a data center context:

See also: server virtualization, server sprawl

This was last updated in September 2016
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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