When we think of the computer, we visualize the personal desktop computer, or the laptop. The desktop and the laptop are so ubiquitous that we see them everywhere. We use them at our homes, offices, schools and colleges. However, they can service only certain types of works. Specialized computers are needed for other needs. We might be using the services of mainframes and the servers all the time, but we might not be aware of them as they are not in front of our eyes. Thus, whenever we are accessing our credit cards, or downloading a website, we are probably using a mainframe or a server.
A mainframe is a bigger computer than a PC. It has more computing power, greater security, greater backward compatibility, greater reliability, and they can run for years continuously without error. Obviously they are expensive, require specialized care and servicing, and are used for certain specific tasks only where these advantages are necessitated. They are used mainly by government institutions and large companies for mission critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as censuses, industry/consumer statistics, ERP, and financial transaction processing.
In computing, a server is a software application that carries out some task (i.e. provides a service) on behalf of yet another piece of software called a client. Thus, in the context of the web, a server serves the client (our computer, or more specifically, the web browser) with what we demand – the web page, containing information retrieved from the server computer. Server software can be of two types: file serving, and application serving. By extension, the computer which houses the server software is also called the Server. Because the server software is required to service a lot of data continuously without a break, the server computer infrastructure is usually optimized for higher performance, with higher processing power, greater reliability, greater security, greater storage capacity, and with novel features like load balancing and distributed computing.
Mainframes and Servers are important domains of computing and they ensure most of the essential services that we regularly benefit from. In this section we provide links to many hosting services on servers, and other related resources.