When thinking of topics to write about, I look at my previous entries and think to myself, “Oh, I probably should have talked about that first before I wrote about this.” I know this is only my fourth entry, however, the more I research for networking topics to write about, the more I realize how in depth the field is. My cloud computing entry was only about a page long, but it’s the subject of many books and websites, and it can be overwhelming for the beginner. I just like get to the bare bones of a topic, and I can always write another entry later to elaborate on something that can use some more discussion. While rereading my topic on cloud computing, I realized I only touched on the server aspect of it, and I thought I would take this time to go over just what the purpose of servers are.
This disambiguation page on Wikipedia lists all the different types of servers that exist (along with some non-computer definitions of server). I will just touch on a few of them for the sake of clarification and brevity.
The server that most internet users are most likely familiar with is the web server. When someone visits a website such as www.televisionwithoutpity.com or www.avclub.com (guess which two sites I’ve been spending a lot of time on) those pages that make up the website are stored on a web server, which is viewed on a web browser. The browser and web server communicate with each other using the protocol TCP/IP which stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.
(Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2007) TCP/IP is an entire topic of its own and in fact, I had an entire class on just TCP/IP, but for now just understand that it is a communication protocol that is used between internet-capable devices and the internet. (Tomsho, Tittel, & Johnson, 2007) Web servers need to be on all the time in order for requests for the pages to be received, but the actual website itself doesn’t take up much web server space since it is just made up of code.
There are other servers for home and office use, like a printer server, file server, and home server that allow multiple computers in a network to use one device, so there is only need for one printer, or one music library that can be accessed by all the computers.
The last server I’ll touch on is the DNS server. Computers use a binary language that is made of 0s and 1s.
(Wikipedia, 2011) However, all the 0s and 1s that computers use make it very difficult for human eyes to read. When someone wants to visit the Google website, he just types in www.google.com, and the website pops up. What happens behind the scenes is that through TCP/IP, computers are communicating with the DNS server. The DNS server acts as a translator between human and computer, turning words into a binary code called an IP address that the computer uses take the person to the website they want to visit. (Wikipedia, 2011)
There are other types of servers with specific jobs, but what they have in common is that they are devices in a central location that provide a service to multiple internet capable devices in different locations. This is the idea behind cloud computing. Cloud computing takes many, many, MANY servers and provides a central place for even more users can take advantage of the benefits all these servers provide, including ones mentioned in my previous entries.
Tomsho, G., Tittel, E., & Johnson, D. (2007). Guide to Networking Essentials. Boston: Thomson Course Technology.
Wikipedia. (2011, 05 14). Domain Name System. Retrieved May 16, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Name_System
Wikipedia. (2011, April 7). File Server. Retrieved May 16, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_server