Network Structural Models and Client/Server and Peer-to-Peer Networking
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Comparing Client/Server and Peer-to-Peer Networking
The choice of client/server or peer-to-peer is another where there is no right answer in this regard. Which should be used depends entirely on the needs of the particular network.
Peer-to-peer networking has primary advantages of simplicity and low cost, which means it has traditionally been used on small networks. Client/server networking provides advantages in the areas of performance, scalability, security and reliability, but is more complicated and expensive to set it up. This makes it better-suited to larger networks. Over time, however, there has been a steady evolution towards client/server networking, even on smaller networks. Many years ago it was common to see even networks with 20 to 50 machines using the peer-to-peer model; today, even networks with only a half-dozen machines sometimes are set up in a client/server mode because of the advantages of centralized resource serving.
The rise in popularity of client/server networking is ironic because in some ways, it is actually a throwback to the days of large mainframes decades ago. A mainframe with attached terminals can be thought of as a client/server network with the mainframe itself being the server and the terminals being clients. This analogy is not perfect, of course, because modern client computers do a lot more work than dumb terminals do on mainframes.
One of the reasons why the client/server structural model is becoming dominant is that it is the primary model used by the worlds largest network: the Internet. Client/server architecture is the basis for most TCP/IP protocols and services. For example, the term Web browser is really another name for a Web client, and a Web site is really a Web server.
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