Web Server vs Application Server: Difference and Comparison

A server is a central repository for storing computers and data programs. In the network, it can be easily accessible by the clients.

Shared services are provided by it to connect workstations. It also helps with network resource management.  

The server also allows to sharing of hardware or data and software resources between clients. When it comes to the server, there are mainly two parts of it, namely web server and application server.

In this article, the main focus is on differentiating web servers and application servers. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Web servers handle HTTP requests and serve static content like HTML pages, images, and stylesheets.
  2. Application servers manage business logic, database connections, and dynamic content generation for web applications.
  3. Web servers focus on efficient content delivery, while application servers prioritize application functionality and integration.

Web Server vs Application Server 

A web server responds to HTTP requests from clients, such as web browsers and delivers static content, such as HTML, CSS, and images, to the client. An application server provides an environment for running web applications such as database connectivity, security, and transaction management.

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A web server is a computer program that receives request data and sends particular documents. Also, it might be a computer that helps to store online content.

It is employed essentially to the host sites, but several web servers exist, like email, FTP, storage, and recreation.

Application server encompasses web as well as EJB containers. For enterprise applications, it organizes the run atmosphere.

It might be a reasonable server which means how to put the operating system, applications hosting end-users services, IT organizations, and services.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWeb ServerApplication Server
InterpretationIt is a system used to deliver static content to the WWW or World Wide Web.It is a framework that delivers several applications to another device.
ResourcesFewer resources consumptionMore resources consumption
ProtocolsHTTP and HTML GUI, HTTP, and RMI/RPC
ExamplesApache, LiteSpeed, Microsoft IIS, Jetty, Roxen, etc.IBM WebSphere, WildFly, Tomcat, Geronimo, Apache Tom FF, etc.

What is a Web Server?  

In terms of hardware/software, the web server uses hypertext transfer protocol and other protocols for countering requests made by clients over WWW.

The main goal is to website content displaying through processing, delivering web pages to users, and storing.

Besides HTTP, it also supports FTP and SMTP used for file transfer, storage, and email.

The Internet is connected to web hardware and allows data changing with other devices which are connected, while the web server software controls user access to hosted files.  

The web server process is an instance of a server or client model. Websites hosting computers must-have software or a web server. This server is used in data hosting for websites, web hosting, and web applications or web-based applications.  

Several basic web servers also support scripting server-side, which is used for scripts employed on a web server that helps to customize the response given to the client.

The web server software can be accessed through the website domain names, ensuring the site’s content delivery to the requesting user. 

web server

What is an Application Server?  

An application server helps to host applications. For servers of building applications, software frameworks are its frameworks.

These frameworks provide both features of a server environment of web applications to run and create them. It comprises a comprehensive service layer model.

It comprises the set of components that is accessible through a defined API standard to the developer of software for the platform itself. As their web server, these components run in the same environment, and their chief job is to assist with the dynamic page construction. 

Nevertheless, several application servers do much more than generate web pages.

Failover, bad balancing and clustering are two of the services implemented to maintain the focus of the developers on the implementation of business logic. Other uses of this term describe services that make a server available.

When it comes to Java applications servers, the behaviour of the server is like running applications on an expanded virtual machine, on one side the transparently handling connections to the database and the other connections to the client of the web.

application server

Main Differences Between Web Server and Application Server 

  1. When it comes to multithreading, the webserver fails to process in parallel multiple simultaneous requests. On the other hand, the application server supports multithreading with other features too.  
  2. Web servers are mainly used to facilitate, which is web-based that is less resource-intensive. In contrast, the application server is used to facilitate processes with longer running that are more resource-intensive.  
  3. Adding content extensions is technically possible in a web server but is time-consuming and difficult to maintain and use. Meanwhile, the application server includes a web server within a server framework of a completely integrated application.  
  4. The web server’s content is limited to sending static HTML content for web browser display. On the flip side, the application server provides access to the logic of server-side or server applications.   
  5. In terms of limitations, for server-side applications, the webserver is lacklustre and time-consuming for content creation. Conversely, supporting any web application consisting of modern UI and dynamic content is an application server limitation. 
  1. https://academic.oup.com/nar/article-abstract/46/W1/W200/5037715
  2. https://www.spillman.com/media/PDF_brochures/Application_Server_Info_Sheet_Web.pdf

Last Updated : 18 June, 2023

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