Web Server VS Application Server | Understanding The Differences

5 min read

As the demand for websites is growing, businesses are becoming more particular about the design and use of the servers. There are two main types of servers: web servers and application servers. The overall user experience on your website is highly influenced by which server you are using. This also leads to increasing questions regarding the use of web server vs application server.

Which server is best to use on a website? What are the key differences between the two servers? How do both servers work?

These are some of the most widely asked questions by online businesses looking for more effective ways to manage their resources and deal with their customers. This blog discusses the difference between application server and web server. Here we will be talking about the properties and functions of an application server vs web server.

What Is A Server?

A server is a centralized place used to store data and programs. Clients can access the data, stored on the server, through the network. Servers have made it more convenient for clients to manage their resources through shared services. Different clients can use and share the same resources (hardware and software) simultaneously. Two main types of servers are web servers and application servers, which we will be discussing in this article.



What Is A Web Server?

 Web Server VS Application Server : What is a Web Server

A web server deals with the HTTP protocol. Whenever an HTTP request is received on a web server, it gives back an HTTP response. The web server can send back a static HTTP page or image as a response to the request. For dynamic response generation, web servers choose another program like servlet, ASPs, JDPs, CGI scripts, etc. A response is generated by the program that is mostly in HTTP so that it can be accessed through the internet browser.

To really understand the working of web servers, it is important to understand the delegation process, which is very simple. When a request is sent to the web server, it redirects the request to another program to handle it further instead of generating the response itself. So, in this scenario, it is quite understandable that a web server only provides a setting that allows the server-side programs to generate an appropriate response for each request. The web server itself doesn’t provide any functionality to manage the response.

Here are some key features of the web server.

  • It manages the HTTP protocol and generates static responses.
  • There is no server-side programming involved in the web server.
  • They support web applications, such as Servlets, HTML, PHP, JSP, etc.
  • It doesn’t provide support for EJB.
  • It also doesn’t provide support for database connection pooling.

What Is The Application Server?

web server vs application server

Application servers use different protocols, such as HTTP, to provide the client applications access to business logic. Web servers only deal with HTTP responses on the web browser, whereas web applications expose business logic to client-based apps. This is the logic used by the application program to call an action. Although the application servers have a graphical user interface, the interaction between these servers and clients is not just limited to a simple display interface. There is no static information or HTML; it contains logic that takes the form of dynamic information, data, and methods.

The best thing about application servers is that they manage their resources and perform duties like security, messaging, resource management, and transaction processing. Just like web servers, application servers also can use different techniques for scalability and error handling.

Here are some key features of the application server.

  • It serves dynamic business logic.
  • On this server, you can handle backend functions such as calculations, data processing, and storage.
  • Using this server, you can deploy applications, security, dependency injection, EJB, and database pooling.
  • It is a higher-level server with more features than the web server.

What Is The Difference Between Web Server VS Application Server?

Web Server vs Application Server : What is the Difference between Web Server vs Application Server

Web servers are also referred to as the subset of application servers. The application server can manage the web content as well as maintain the interaction between end-users and the application server. However, it is hard to draw a fine line between both of these servers. Following are some of the major differences between web server vs application server that you must be aware of.

  • Web Server accepts the HTTP request from clients and sends the response generated by HTTP. The application server reveals the business logic to clients and sends back dynamic responses.
  • Web servers can generate both static and dynamic responses against the client request. On the flip side, application servers are used to generate text documents to compute the information provided.
  • Web servers utilize fewer resources for generating the response and dealing with clients, mainly using CPU memory. Application servers use up more resources compared with web servers.
  • Web servers only support HTTP protocol, whereas application servers support HTTP as well as RPC/RMI protocols.
Web Server vs Application Server  : What is the Difference between Web Server vs Application Server
  • On a web server, you can run a web application; however, the application server provides a setting to run enterprise and web applications.
  • Web Server reduces the resource-intensive longer running processes. Application server; on the other hand, reduces web traffic that is not resource-intensive.
  • The web Server is the subset of the application server, whereas the application server is the superset of the web server.
  • Web Server generates the response for an HTTP request that is displayed on a web browser. In the case of the application server, data is exchanged between the application and client-server continuously.
  • Web Servers don’t support multithreading, whereas, the application server supports it.

Above are mentioned some of the major differences between both application server vs web server. These points highlight the functionality and working of servers, so you can better understand the significance of both.

Can Application Server And Web Server Work Together?

This is an important question, and the answer is yes. You can use a multi-server environment to create a website that generates both static and dynamic content. On your website, the web servers will be used to generate static web content, and the application server used to generate dynamic content. You can use a load balancer or proxy servers to route traffic towards a more suitable server, depending on the request type and load balancing algorithm. You can also use a load balancer program that is also a proxy server, it will help you simplify the web application server architecture of your website.

Wrapping Up!

Whether you want to create a website or a client-based system for your business, it is up to your choice to use a web server, application server, or a combination of both.

Based on the format of your online portal and the type of request you will be receiving from the client; you have to choose the ideal server architecture. However, choosing between these two servers will not be easy at all. Knowing the difference between web server and application server is going to help you select the server that would allow you to scale easily, save more money, and better fit your business requirements.

So, what is your ideal choice when it comes to selecting between the web server and application server?

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