What is The Client-Server Architecture? Everything you Need to Know 


With the rise of the internet and computer networks, there were some models shined up to fulfill the organizations’ needs, one of them was the client-server architecture. This model is based on distributing functions between the server and the client.


Before we take a deep dive into the definitions, let us be familiar with the idea of how this architecture really works.


Normally, when you go to a restaurant you order any kind of food you like to eat and the waiter takes your order to the kitchen and then when the order is ready the waiter gets back to you with the food you requested. Client-server architecture is literally built on this idea.


A client: It is any process that requests a specific service. (You ordering the food)

A server: It is any process that provides the requested service for the client.

What is Client-Server Architecture?

Client-server architecture is a computer network architecture in which many clients request and receive service from a centralized server. In this architecture, the client will be provided with an interface to request a service from the server and return the response back once it is ready while the servers are located somewhere else on the network and usually on more powerful machines.


The request-response pattern is represented by a client-server connection which follows a set of rules and guidelines for communication.


The TCP protocol set is followed in client-server communication.

Example of Client/Server Communications

To understand the communication between the client and server, we need to be aware of some simple points:

1- Request:

It is sent from the client to ask the server for something to do like storing data, fetching data, etc. 

2- Response: 

It is sent from the server to the client and it is the reaction of the request sent from the client, this could be for example giving the client an image to download.

3- Service: 

It is the task that the server provides for the client, this could be for example a file service, where you can store and download files.

Here are Some of the Client-Server Model Architecture Examples:

- File Servers: 

It is a centralized location for files,  a daily-life example of this type is google drive where you can store your files.

- Mail Servers: 

This type of server is used for sending and receiving emails, like Gmail.

- Web Servers: 

One of the most popular types. High-performance computers that host different websites and serve client requests through a high-speed internet connection like Facebook web servers.

Issues with Client/Server Models

1- Maintenance Cost: 

In a client-server network maintaining and supporting the server is usually very expensive.

2- Hardware Cost: 

While client-server processes increase, there must be an upgrade for the hardware and this requires more resources e.g. RAM, CPU, and storage.

3- Network Congestion: 

Too much client traffic on a single server may result in network congestion/crash.

Components of Client-Server Architecture

The client-server architecture works on three interconnected components:

1- Workstations: 

It is a client's computer, and these workstations use various kinds of operating systems, like Microsoft Windows OS. Also, note that the Operating system used on the client’s workstation is much cheaper than the one used on the server.

2- Server:

A high-performance device with a fast processing speed, more storage, and memory to serve multiple requests. The server can perform numerous kinds of functions such as files servers, web servers, etc.

3- Networking Devices/Mediums: 

Workstations and servers are interconnected with each other by a specific medium called a network device, each network device has its operation and properties. E.g. Routers, switches, etc.

How does Client-Server Architecture work?


To get a better understanding of how the client-server architecture work, let us learn how the browser interacts with the server:


1- The user enters the URL of a specific website such as https://cybertalents.com, and the browser sends a request to the domain name system (DNS) server.

2- The DNS searches for the address of the requested website and responds with its IP.

3- The browser sends over an HTTP/HTTPS request to the web server’s IP.

4- The server sends over the necessary files of the cybertalents.com website.

5- Finally, the browser renders the files which will be displayed for the user.

Types of Client-Server Architecture

1-tier architecture: 

The application is delivered as a single package that contains everything related to it. A single entity is created by the grouping of all the logic associated with the User Interface, Business Logic, Database Logic, and Database.

2-tier architecture:

The entirety of the application functionality is separated into two tiers in a 2-tier client-server architecture. In this architecture, the database mostly functions as a separate entity. 

Databases are created independently, and the primary application has all of the business logic, database logic, and user interface logic needed to interact with the database and process applications.

3-tier architecture: 

A middleware exists between the client and the server in a three-tier system. The middleware is the first entity to receive a client's request for information from the server. The server will then receive the request and process it. Then the server will similarly reply to the client.

N-tier architecture: 

This style of architecture is the scaled-down version of the other three. Each function, including display, application processing, and data management functionalities, can be placed in this design as a separate layer.

Difference between Peer-to-Peer Networks and Client-Server Architecture

Peer-to-peer Architecture

Client-server Architecture

Every peer stores its own data

Has centralized data management

Preferred for short networks

Can be used in small and large networks

Every node can accomplish both request and response

The server responds with the service that is requested by the client

No difference between clients and servers all nodes are the same

There is a specific client and server


Advantages and Disadvantages of Client-Server Architecture



Easy to manage

If a server goes down the whole architecture is disrupted [single point of failure]

Scalability and possibility of backup

Hardware and software tools cost expensive

Easy to access regardless of the location of the server

Too much traffic can cause network congestion [server bottleneck/ denial of service]

Data integrity and security. 

Requires highly technical stuff such as operating systems for servers, RAM, storage, etc.

Use Cases of Client-Server Architecture

  • File transfer protocol clients (FTPs).
  • Web servers.
  • Web browsers.
  • Domain Name System (DNS).

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