What is the Difference Between Web Server and Application Server? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

The main difference between web server and application server is their respective use. Using a web server is hosting web applications, while using an application server is hosting web and business applications.

A web server is a device or software that stores web content. Process HTTP requests and respond with HTML pages. It also provides static content and does not perform dynamic web page creation. On the other hand, application servers provide business logic to application programs that use various protocols. In addition, they manage all application operations between the user and the organization or database backend. In short, application servers are more advanced and have more features than web servers.

Key areas covered

1. What is a Web Server
      – Definition, Functionality
2. What is an Application Server?
     – Definition, Functionality
3. What is the difference between web server and application server?
     – Comparison of key differences

What is a web server

A web server is software or hardware that provides web content over the World Wide Web (WWW). Stores, processes and provides web pages to clients. In addition, the client and the web server communicate through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

In the communication process, clients first send a request for a web page from the web server. Then the web server looks for the requested page. If the page is available, it will send the web page to the client as an HTTP response. However, if the page cannot be found, the web server will send an error message indicating the HTTP response: 404 Error Not Found. If the client requests some other resource and if there is an application server, then the web server will contact that application server to provide the HTTP response.

What is an application server?

An app server is software that runs programs, scripts to build web and business applications. It consists of a comprehensive service layer model. Also, it can contain a web server as well. In addition, it provides a set of components to the software developer through a standard API defined for the platform itself. Additionally, application servers provide services such as bundling and load balancing. Therefore, developers can focus more on business logic. They handle connections to the database while connecting to the web client.

Difference between web server and app server

Definition

A web server is a system that delivers content or services to end users over the Internet. In contrast, an application server is software that provides facilities to create web applications and a server environment to run them. So this explains the basic difference between them.

Functionality

The main difference between them is that the web server provides web pages to clients using the HTTP protocol. Whereas, the application server provides business logic to application programs that use various protocols, including HTTP.

Applicability

Web servers are used to facilitate web-based traffic that requires less resources, while application servers are used to facilitate long-running applications that require more resources. This is another difference between the web server and the application server.

Use

The web server is used for web applications, while the application server is used for web and business applications.

Examples

Apache HTTP Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), Sun Java System web server, and Jigsaw server are some examples of web servers. Apache Tomcat, Jboss, WebLogic, WebSphere are some examples for application servers.

Conclusion

While there is a clear difference between them, most people use these two terms interchangeably. However, the basic difference between web server and application server is that web server is used for web applications while app server is used for web and business applications. In short, the application server also works as a web server.

Reference:

1. “Web server”. Www.tutorialspoint.com, Tutorials Point, Available here.
2. “Web server”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, August 29, 2018, Available here.
3. “Application server”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, September 15, 2018, Available here.

Courtesy Image:

1. “567944” (CC0) via Pixabay

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