May 14, 2019 by Siobhan Climer
Swaths of information, devices, and connections are added to networks every day. Managing this is key to the success of the IT industry. Many 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.
IT environments are growing in complexity. We need to continue streamlining operations and make management more efficient before we’re all up to our necks in unmanageable management tasks.
Along the way, technologists developed the client server model to try and make the lives of IT leadership a little easier. But what is the client server model and is it useful today?
At-A-Glance: The Client Server Model
The client server model is 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, smartphones, and IoT 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.
One caveat: 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.
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Client Server Model Benefits: Centralized Management Use Case
The benefits of this approach are fairly straightforward. Let’s use an example.
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 (hopefully), 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 The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.