What sets an application server apart from a web server

application server and web server

What is Server?

A central archive that stores computer programs and data that can be accessed by clients is called a server. It provides various facilities such as connecting your various workstations with shared services, as well as, assists you in managing the resources of your network. You can also provide your clients with various resources such as software, hardware and data sharing. The servers are divided into two types namely Web server and Application server. 

The Web-server

The HTTP protocol is handled completely by the web server. When an HTTP request is sent to the web server, an HTTP response is sent back that could take the form of an HTML page. It could be a page redirect or static HTML image or page that is sent back by the Webserver while the request is being processed. It could also assign some other program to generate a response, like JSPs, CGI scripts, server-side JavaScripts, servers, ASPs, or any other alternate server-side technologies available. A response is generated by the server-side programs, that can be seen in the web browser in HTML form. 

The model that web servers adhere to in order to delegate is extremely straightforward. When the web server receives a request, the web server chooses the programs it believes will be able to give the best results, and passes it on to it. The web server basically provides an infrastructure where the server side program can generate and send back the response. The server side program is self sufficient in performing functions such as messaging, connecting databases and processing various transactions. 

A web server has several strategies in place to deal with any fault or to accommodate scalability like caching, balancing and clustering, which are features that are not merely dealt with with application servers. It just does not conduct database connection pooling and transaction support on its own.

To summarize, clients send requests to the web server for static content like videos, files, HTML pages, and images, from a website, that the web server accepts and promptly delivers. Web servers deal only with HTTP responses and requests.

The Application Server

An application server is defined as the server that employs various protocols to expose business logic, including HTTP, to client applications. While an HTML is sent for display by the web server on to web browsers, which is its main function, an application server, on the other hand, provides client application programs access to employ business logic. This logic is then put to use by the application program as a function that might be employed in a procedural event.

A graphical user interface (GUIs) being run on a web server, a PC or an alternate application server, is included in the application server clients. The information goes beyond easy display markup that is exchanged between the client and the application server. Program logic forms the information. The exposed business logic can be employed by the client according to their will since the logic does not take the form of static HTML, a bit of method calls and data.

Dynamic content is generated when business logic is exposed by server application to clients. It is basically a software infrastructure that helps convert data to provide specialized features by applications, businesses and various services. The interactive aspects of a website are boosted by the application servers, which based on the request can look different.

These columns highlight the differences between the web server and the application server.

1. Web Server features:

Below are some of the main web server features.

  1. EJB support if not provided by web servers.
  2. Server-side programming is not handled.
  3. Database connection pooling is not a part of the webserver features provided.
  4. It does take care of HTTP Protocols.
  5. Applications that are web-based like HTML, JSP, PHP, Servlets, are supported.

2. Application server features:

Below are some of the application web server features.

  1. Application server assists you in various functions such as dependency injection, application deployment, security, EJB, as well as, database pooling.
  2. Vital business logic is offered. 
  3. Backend logic management is offered by application servers such as processing, database, calculations, etc.

What are the key differences between the web server and application server?

While application servers expose clients to business logic that leads to the creation of vital content, web servers deal with clients sending them HTTP requests to which they have to send HTTP responses back.

Both RMI/RPC and HTTP/s protocols are supported by application servers, while web servers only support one protocol that is HTTP/s.

Dynamic or static hypertext documents are produced by web servers, while application servers employ them to compute the data provided. 

A web application can be run in the infrastructure that web servers provide, while the web application can be run along with enterprise applications in the infrastructure provided by the application servers.

Application servers consume far more resources such as CPU memory in comparison to web servers. 


There are certain overlaps between the functions of web servers and application servers, which suggests that the choice must be made based on your specific needs. A majority of the systems ca. Be run on an application server, a web server or both combined.

Unfortunately, all setups don’t provide equal amounts of functionality. Hence, acquiring knowledge about the differences between a web server and an application server helps you with scalability, making better monetary decisions, and choosing an option that suits your needs perfectly.

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