Difference Between Web Server and Application Server


What is Application Server?

Application Server is a type of server designed to install, operate, and host applications. Application servers physically or virtually sit between database servers storing application data and web servers communicating with clients. The function of the application server is to act as host (or container) for the user’s business logic while facilitating access to and performance of the business application.

An application server consists of a server operating system (OS) and server hardware that work together to provide computing-intensive operations and services to the residing application. An application server executes and provides user and/or other app access when utilizing the installed application’s business/functional logic.

Key required features of an application server include data redundancy, high availability, load balancing, user management, data/application security and a centralized management interface. Moreover, an application server may be connected by enterprise systems, networks or intranet and remotely accessed via the Internet.

Different types of application servers are:

  1. SAP NetWeaver AS
  2. Oracle OC4J
  3. JRun
  4. Tcat Server
  5. Glassfish
  6. WebObjects
  7. JBoss
  8. WebSphere
  9. WebLogic

Examples of Application Server

  1. Business Logic
  2. Mobile Application Server
  3. API
  4. High Availability
  5. Integration
  6. Media
  7. Desktop Application
  8. Cloud Deployment
  9. Systems
  10. Microservices

What is Web Server?

A web server is software and hardware that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and other protocols to respond to client requests made over the World Wide Web. A user agent, commonly a web browser or web crawler, initiates communication by making a request for a web page or other resource using HTTP, and the server responds with the content of that resource or an error message. A web server can also accept and store resources sent from the user agent if configured to do so.

Web servers are responsible for serving web clients HTTP requests with HTTP responses. Unlike app servers, the web server design is light enough to process static data requests for multiple applications (or websites) while maintaining security. Dynamic requests, often in the form of applications, require additional assistance.

Example of Web Servers

  1. Resin
  2. Apache Tomcat

What you need to know about Web and Application Server

Application Server

  • An application server is a software framework that provides both facilities to create web applications and a server environment to run them.
  • Application servers are capable of doing all that is possible with the help of web servers. In addition, application servers boast of features and components for supporting app level services of the likes of Connection Pooling, Transaction Support, Object Pooling, Messaging services etc.
  • Application Server offers support for distributed transactions and EJB.
  • Application servers are heavier than web servers in context to resource utilization.
  • Applcation server is relevant in case of dynamic contents like bank websites.
  • Application server utilizes more resources.
  • Application server provides the runtime environment for enterprise applications.
  • Application Server supports HTTP as well as RPC/RMI protocols.

Web Server

  • Web server can refer to either the hardware (the computer) or the software (the computer application) that helps to deliver content that can be accessed through the Internet.
  • Web servers are mainly designed for the purpose of serving static content. The dynamic HTTP content can be generated by web Servers having plugins for providing support to scripting languages of the likes of PHP, ASP, JSP, Perl, etc.
  • Web Server offer support only for Servlets and JSP.
  • Web servers are not as heavy as application servers in context to resource utilization.
  • A web server is good in case of static contents like static html pages.
  • Web server consumes less resources like CPU, Memory etc. as compared to application server.
  • Web Server provides the runtime environment for web applications.
  • Web Server supports HTTP Protocol.