A Web server might be a hardware device or a software application. Either of them is mainly used for hosting the websites. Web server will have a domain name and IP address as people have name and address for identification.
Any computer device can be converted to web server by installing a web server software and having internet connected to it. It is useful for small and medium sized businesses to have a web server of its own because it allows them to host and manage the websites related to their business.
How web servers work?
A Web server uses traditional client-server model. Here, the server is a web server and client is web browser. The user sends a request via a web browser to the server to call a webpage. The request sent by the web browser is taken by the web server and it processes the request and sends the webpage to the browser.
Now the web browser displays the webpage to the user. This whole process happens within a just few seconds. Here, web browser and the web server are communicating and this communication is done using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
For clarity, we take an example, the user type a URL “apple.com/itunes” to visit itunes page in apple website in web browser. The Web browser then converts the request of the user to machine understandable language, and sends it to Web server. The Web server then checks for domain name “apple” and then for “itunes” and send it to web browser. The Web browser receives the itunes page in machine language, converts it to user understandable language, and displays the website to the user. In this client and server communication process, they use HTTP as the language of communication.
Software and hardware web servers
Web server software is a computer program that when installed in a computer turns a computer to a web server. Web server software program can be written in different computer languages like Java, C++, etc. There are many webserver software available these days. They are compatible and can run on any operating systems like Apache tomcat, IBM HTTP server, Google Web Server (GWS), etc.
There are also some hardware devices that need to be connected to internet. These devices together act as a web server. These are helpful for the non technical business people who are willing to install a web server because they are easy to install and use than software web servers.
Why web servers for small and medium sized businesses?
Web server is capable of hosting many webpages at a time. It is better to have a high-speed Internet connection, which makes the communication between the client and server faster and efficient.
Web servers can be shared among different small organizations or individuals for hosting their webpages. While, some web servers only accommodates webpages related to a single user or business (dedicated host), some can host webpages of several users. (shared host).
For small and medium sized organizations, it is better to go for shared hosts as shared hosts are inexpensive when compared to dedicated hosts, and businesses have the opportunity to access other web pages with the permission of the other organizations, who are sharing the same web server.