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client/server for dummies

Client/server computing divides a computer application into three basic components – a client, a server, and a network that connects the client to the server (you can think of the network as the slash in client/server computing). The client and the server are both computers with varying degrees of processing power, and both share the computing workload necessary to get the job done.

In most cases, the client computer is a personal computer sitting on the user's desk. The server computer is a network server, which may be a high-powered PC, a minicomputer (called a midrange computer these days), or a mainframe. The network is whatever is necessary to connect the client to the server.

So why the fuss concerning this fairly simple process? The fuss, of course, is about what you can or may be able to do with client/server computing, and the ease (or difficulty, as the case may be) with which you can do it. Here are some examples of what client/server computing can enable you to do:

  1. Create customized business applications that access data on mainframe computers but are as easy to use as off-the-shelf PC applications such as word processing and spreadsheet programs.
  2. Develop applications that tie together data that is stored in otherwise incompatible computer systems – for example, a marketing system may access data stored in the corporate mainframe in Chicago, the departmental minicomputer in Cleveland, and the PC down the hall.
  3. Build a so-called Executive Information System that summarizes the mass quantity of information typically stored in mainframe computers and presents it in a form that even the CEO can understand.
  4. ...

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