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What is Application Server? (Meaning, Structure, Types & Uses)

what is application server

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

A server is a computer program or device that provides a service to another computer program and its user, also known as the client. In a data center, the physical computer that a server program runs on is also frequently referred to as a server. That machine might be a dedicated server or it might be used for other purposes.

There are various types of servers used in the computer field and one such type is an application server. Let’s understand what is application server is and its structure, types, and uses. 

what is application server

What is an Application Server?

In simple words, an application server is a mixed framework of software that allows both the creation of web applications and a server environment to run them. 

An application server framework contains a comprehensive service layer model. It includes a set of components accessible to the software developer through a standard API defined for the platform itself. For Web applications, these components usually run in the same environment as their web server(s). Their main job is to support the construction of dynamic pages.

However, many application servers do more than generate web pages. They implement services such as clustering, fail-over, and load-balancing, so developers can focus on implementing the business logic.

In the case of Java application servers, the server behaves like an extended virtual machine for running applications, transparently handling connections to the database on one side, and, often connections to the Web client on the other.

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Structure of an Application Server

The application server contains the server operating system and hardware components of the server, and they perform all tasks together to offer computing-intensive operations and services to the application which are inside it.

It helps to execute and produces user and application access while utilizing the business and function logic of the application that is installed on the application server. Primary features needed by the application server enable load balancing, data/application protection, centralized management interface, data redundancy, and high availability. 

what is application server

An application server can be connected to remote networks and enterprise systems for accessing via the internet. After knowing “What is an Application Server?”, let’s now see what different types of application servers are?

Examples of Application Servers

Some of the popular application servers are

  • JBoss: Open-source server from the JBoss community.
  • Glassfish: Provided by Sun Microsystem. Now, acquired by Oracle.
  • Weblogic: Provided by Oracle.
  • Websphere: Provided by IBM.

Types of Application Servers

Application servers are of three categories:

  • Active Application Server: This server helps to support and provide a better environment to use business logic that is enabled on the server side which is expressed as rules, objects, and components, and it is also known as a “Stateful Server”.
  • Web Information Server: This type of server help in creating pages from the database by enabling HTML templates, and hence it is also called a “Stateless Server”.
  • Component Server: This server plays a major role in offering database access for using software components like COBRA, DLL, and Java Bean. It is more helpful for transaction processing requests.

Benefits of Application Server

These are the benefits of application server

  • It delivers a better environment for dealing with all internal and external components as well as running services such as synchronous and asynchronous client notifications and session management.
  • Provides an easy way to install applications in one area.
  • Helps in modification of any configurations like altering of the database server. 
  • Helps in the deployment of patches and security updates.
  • Offers protection to all applications.
  • Helps in failover and recovery.
  • Provides transaction support.
  • Offers load balancing.
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Difference between Web Server and Application Server

Web ServerApplication Server
Web server encompasses web container only.While the application server encompasses the Web container as well as the EJB container.
Web server is useful or fitted for static content.Whereas the application server is fitted for dynamic content.
Web server consumes or utilizes fewer resources.While application servers utilize more resources.
Web servers arrange the run environment for web applications.While application servers arrange the run environment for enterprise applications.
In web servers, multi-threading is not supported.While in an application server, multithreading is supported.
The web server’s capacity is lower than the application server’s.While the application server’s capacity is higher than a web server.
In the web servers, HTML and HTTP protocols are used.While in this, GUI, as well as HTTP and RPC/RMI protocols, are used.
Difference between Web Server and Application Server

Practice Problems

  1. What is a server in computer science?
  2. What is an application server?
  3. What are the advantages of an application server?
  4. How application server differs from a web server?
  5. Name some application servers.

FAQs

What is a server in computer science?

A server is a computer program or device that provides a service to another computer program and its user, also known as the client. In a data center, the physical computer that a server program runs on is also frequently referred to as a server.

What is application server?

An application server is a mixed framework of software that allows both the creation of web applications and a server environment to run them.

What are the features of an application server?

Key required features of an application server include data redundancy, high availability, load balancing, user management, data/application security, and a centralized management interface.

Which are the examples of an application server?

Some examples are JBoss, Weblogic, Websphere, Glassfish, Tcat Server, Apache Geronimo, JRun, and Oracle OC4J.

Conclusion

An application server is a mixed framework of software that allows both the creation of web applications and a server environment to run them. An application server framework contains a comprehensive service layer model. It includes a set of components accessible to the software developer through a standard API defined for the platform itself. The main advantage of an application server is that it delivers a better environment for dealing with all internal and external components as well as running services such as synchronous and asynchronous client notifications and session management.

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