Client or Server Applications

By: Jesse Miller

The central feature of client/server architecture is the allocation of application tasks between clients and server. In both client and server the basic software is an operating system running on the hardware platform. The platforms and the operating systems of client and server may differ.

There may be a number of different types of client platform and operating systems and a number of different types of server platforms and operating systems in a single environment. As long as a particular client and server share the same communications protocols and support the same applications, these lower-level differences are irrelevant.

It is the communications software that enables client and server to interoperate. TCP/IP, OSI are some examples of communications software. The point of all of this support software (communication and operating systems) is to provide a base for distributed applications. Ideally, the actual functions performed by the application can be split up between client and server in a way that optimizes platform and network resources and that optimizes the ability of users to perform various tasks and to cooperate with one another in using shared resources. These requirements dictate that the bulk of the applications software executes at the server, whereas most of the application logic is located at the client in other cases.

An essential factor in the success of a client/server environment is the way in which the user interacts with the system as a whole. Thus, the design of the user interface to the client machine is critical. In most client/server systems, there is heavy emphasis on providing a graphical user interface (GUI) that is easy to operate and learn, yet powerful and flexible. Thus, we can think of a presentation services module in the client workstation responsible for providing a user-friendly interface to the distributed applications available in the environment.

Interaction between client and server is in the form of transactions in which the client makes a database request and receives a database response. The server is responsible for maintaining the database, for which purpose a complex database management system software module is required. A variety of different applications that make use of the database can be housed on client machines. Software enables the client to make requests for access to the server`s database. A popular example of such logic is the structured query language or SQL.

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A presentation services module should not be confused with the presentation layer of the OSI model.

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