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Application Server

An application server is a product that is essentially component based and one that is present in the middle tier level of a server based architecture. It provides services for security as well as maintenance coupled with data access as well as persistence. Simply put, an application server is nothing but a software framework that succeeds in providing facilities for creating web applications as well a suitable server based environment for running them. Most frameworks for application servers contain a comprehensive layer model for service.

So what then is an application? In terms of information technology, an application is nothing but a computer program that is designed for helping people to perform an activity. Therefore, an application differed from an operating system which runs on a computer as well as a utility function which is responsible for performing general chores and tasks or even a programming tool with the help of which computers are created.

Primarily, the term application server was used for discussing client server systems in early days for differentiating servers which contain SQL services as well as for isolating middle-ware services from other kinds of servers. It is often mistaken to be considered as a web application environment.

An application server specially built to host applications.

The frameworks for application server are actually software frameworks. An application server framework not just provides a platform to create web applications but also a server environment to run them.

An application server framework comprises of what one may call a comprehensive service layer model. The model contains set of components accessible to the developer of the software. This is achieved using a standard API, defined for the platform itself. For Web apps, the components and their web server(s) normally run in the same environment and supports construction of dynamic pages. However, there are application servers that support more than just generating web pages; these servers implement fail-over, load-balancing, clustering and tons of other services, helping developers to focus on implementing logics instead.

With java application servers, the servers sort of behave as extended VMs (virtual machines). These VMs transparently handle connections with database and Web clients simultaneously, without each other being aware of the same.

In a more precise manner it could be said that application servers are but software that aid web applications. App servers typically comprise of the following:

- Web server connectors,

- Computer programming languages, 

- Runtime libraries, 

- Database connectors, and 

- Administration code

Web servers also usually run in front of the app server. Web apps are not the same as application servers. The former run at the top of application servers and is a computer code. Web applications are written in one or more languages, all of which needs to be supported by application server. The application server in turn calls the runtime library.

You can choose from a number of app servers. The nature of choice depends and is impacted by reliability, scalability, cost, performance, and maintainability.

Proprietary app servers are available. These mail servers provide services in a well-defined manner, although the model is only proprietary based. Developers developing the application do so based on the specification of the app server. The model is almost globally adopted but has its own downsides - the most noteworthy being dependence on a particular vendor.

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