Monday, June 15, 2009

File Server Application

In computing, a file server is a computer attached to a network that has the primary purpose of providing a location for the shared storage of computer files (such as documents, sound files, photographs, movies, images, databases, etc.) that can be accessed by the workstations that are attached to the computer network. The term server highlights the role of the machine in the client-server scheme, where the clients are the workstations using the storage. A file server is usually not performing any calculations, and does not run any programs on behalf of the clients. It is designed primarily to enable the rapid storage and retrieval of data where the heavy computation is provided by the workstations.

History of file servers

In the mid-1980s enterprises became increasingly interested in ways to connect a rapidly growing population of personal computers. Novell proposed an approach using software to connect each workstation to a network file server that would manage both the network and access to network resources. At the same time 3Com Corporation was creating Ethernet adapter cards, building hardware connectivity needed for such approach.

Novell grew upon the strength of its Netware operating system, used for file serving, and by the late 1980s had a 50% market share of local area networks. Seeing the potential growth in this arena IBM and Microsoft both introduced their own file server strategies.

Twenty years after its peak, Novell and 3Com have virtually disappeared from the Server market; today disk servers (a NAS or a SAN) supplied by one of the leading vendors such as EMC or NetApp are typically attached to a file server running the Microsoft Windows or Linux operating systems. Large data centers, that serve millions of customers (such as Google's), run server farms on specialized equipment with large, complex operating systems.

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