Server Types

Different servers do different jobs, from serving email and video to protecting internal networks and hosting Web sites. Learn about the many types of servers used today.

Servers are often dedicated, meaning that they perform no other tasks besides their server tasks. Different servers do different jobs, from serving email and video to protecting internal networks and hosting Web sites.

Server Types

This list categorizes the many different types of servers used in the marketplace today.

Proxy Server

A proxy server sits between a client program (typically a Web browser) and an external server (typically another server on the Web) to filter requests, improve performance, and share connections.

Mail Server

Almost as ubiquitous and crucial as Web servers, mail servers move and store mail over corporate networks (via LANs and WANs) and across the Internet.

Server Platforms

A term often used synonymously with operating system, a platform is the underlying hardware or software for a system and is thus the engine that drives the server.

Web Server

At its core, a Web server serves static content to a Web browser by loading a file from a disk and serving it across the network to a user’s Web browser. This entire exchange is mediated by the browser and server talking to each other using HTTP.

Application Server

Sometimes referred to as a type of middleware, application servers occupy a large chunk of computing territory between database servers and the end user, and they often connect the two.

Real-Time Communication Server

Real-time communication servers, formerly known as chat servers or IRC Servers, and still sometimes referred to as instant messaging (IM) servers, enable large numbers users to exchange information near instantaneously.

FTP Server

One of the oldest of the Internet services, File Transfer Protocol makes it possible to move one or more files securely between computers while providing file security and organization as well as transfer control.

Collaboration Server

In many ways, collaboration software, once called ‘groupware,’ demonstrates the original power of the Web. Collaboration software designed to enable users to collaborate, regardless of location, via the Internet or a corporate intranet and to work together in a virtual atmosphere.

List Server

List servers offer a way to better manage mailing lists, whether they be interactive discussions open to the public or one-way lists that deliver announcements, newsletters or advertising.

Telnet Server

A Telnet server enables users to log on to a host computer and perform tasks as if they’re working on the remote computer itself.

Open Source Server

From your underlying open source server operating system to the server software that help you get your job done, open source software is a critical part of many IT infrastructures.

Virtual Server

In 2009, the number of virtual servers deployed exceeded the number of physical servers. Today, server virtualization has become near ubiquitous in the data center.

This article was originally published on February 10, 2011

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Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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