How IT Works: Client Server Model


November 22, 2016

The IT industry has had an ongoing effort to make large swaths of information, devices, and connections as manageable as possible. Even today, many of the new technologies released by Cisco, VMware, Citrix, and other developers are designed to alleviate the daily challenges of IT professionals. It’s essential for the continued success of business.

Computer systems become more and more complex each year, and as a result, our IT environments grow in complexity right along with them. We need to continue to streamline our operations and make management more efficient before we’re all up to our necks in management tasks.

Along the way, technologists developed the client server model to try and make the lives of IT directors a little easier, and it is still widely used today.


At-A-Glance: The Client Server Model


The client server model is, in practice, the fundamental operating principle of all data centers including the cloud. The term “client server model” simply describes a strategy in which not all of the necessary applications and files are installed directly onto an endpoint. Instead, some or all of these files or apps are installed on a server located elsewhere. Clients, taking the form of laptops, desktops, tablets, or smartphones, then request a file or application from the remote server. The server hears the request, verifies credentials, and if everything checks out, serves the client the requested file.

The communication between clients and servers is a two way street. Servers can contact clients to ensure that the client has appropriate patches, updates, or to see if the client needs anything else. Once the server has conducted its business, it closes the connection to the client to conserve bandwidth space on the network.


Centralized Computing

There is one caveat to this description. While centralized computing may make use of the client server model, they are not exactly the same thing. The client server model does not necessarily require the server to possess more computing resources than the client. However, centralized computing specifically means that the majority of computing resources are consolidated in one server space.


Client Server Benefits: Centralized Management


The benefits of this approach are fairly straightforward. Suppose a company uses a particular digital form as a key part of their business process. Hundreds of employees use it dozens of times a day, and there are legal requirements and business policy surrounding the proper completion of the form. Now suppose that a new law is passed and the form needs to be altered slightly.


Without the Client Server System

The company would need to distribute the file to each and every employee and hope that from now on they use this new file instead of the older version already saved on their devices.


With the Client Server System

This process is rather easy. Employees have already been accessing the form remotely from the server. To distribute and update the file, the IT administrator needs only replace the file with the new version on the network drive. The file was never installed on individual computers, so the company-wide update is completed in one definitive action.


Straightforward Concept, Huge Impact


Today, we see the client server model extend even further to the cloud. Essentially, the cloud is just a larger more interconnected server that you rent from a cloud provider. The client—your endpoint—is still making requests and receiving files from the server in much the same way. The client server model is so effective at maintaining consistency across large collections of clients, it’s hard to imagine IT best practices switching to another alternative.

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About Mindsight

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For Further Reading:

How IT Works: The Domain Name System

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