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In the 1980s and 1990s client-server computing became the dominant paradigm of DistributedSystem?s. In the new millenium, despite the advance in MindShare? of PeerToPeer networking, ClientServer technologies continue to do most of the heavy lifting.

Contrast with DumbTerminal?s, ThinClients, and PeerToPeer networking.

Basic concept

In a client-server architecture, one program or computer acts as a server. It provides services to other programs or computers, called clients. Usually the client program is on a computer connected over a network to the computer the server program is on.

The typical justification for a client-server architecture is to keep certain data or information centralized at the server, while distributing the task of UserInterface to the various clients. Additionally, servers usually do some hard work -- complex processing or storage of lots of data -- requiring expensive hardware. In a client-server model, the clients can be relatively cheap, with just one server that has to be relatively expensive.

Client-server in practice

There is an implied inequality between the client computer or program and the server computer or program. Usually, one server provides services to many clients, and as mentioned above, is usually a more powerful and more expensive computer.

Servers also make for a SinglePointOfFailure?, in that if the server fails for some reason, the clients can't obtain the services they need.

Socially, servers are usually the province of a TechnicalElite? -- either within an organization or between organizations -- and clients are left to the devices of the UnwashedMasses?. Because of the server's importance, it's usually protected from unfit hands behind locked doors.

Depending on the resources of the organization or community, a single computer may provide multiple kinds of services, with different server programs, or there may be multiple computers each dedicated to a single service.


Random notes


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