A fat server provides most of the functionality a client machine within a client/server computing architecture requires. Think of it as a standard core server that hosts and provides critical network-based applications and storage, processing, Internet access, and other services.
In much simpler terms, in a network comprising a fat server and multiple computers, none of the processing is done by any of the connected computers. Instead, all the processing happens on the fat server.
Read More about a Fat Server
A fat server, also known as a “fat client,” is said to be the counterpart of a thin client. But what is a thin client? Find out below.
What Is a Thin Client?
A thin client is a simple computer remotely connected to a server-based computing environment. In the definition above, the computers we talked about are thin clients. They don’t perform complex processes.
Organizations can choose from two basic network architecture models—the fat client or fat server model and the thin client model. How do they differ, though?
What Is the Difference between the Fat and Thin Server Models?
Fat Server Model
In the fat server model, the server holds the data. It performs most of the processing and presents the results to the user. How?
Here are the steps in the fat server model:
- The client connects to the server and makes its requests.
- The server pushes the data across the network to the client.
- The client processes the data and performs any action the user requests.
- The data is pushed back to the server for storage.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using the Fat Server Model?
The table below summarizes the benefits and challenges of using the fat server model.
|The server costs less because it doesn’t need a lot of resources.The activities a user performs on a client will have very little effect on how other clients perform.Fat client applications offer richer user interfaces and experiences.||Each client needs to pass data over the network, increasing data traffic volumes. That can be negligible in a modern office network but can be problematic when done over the Internet or across multiple physical locations.Each client requires individual maintenance. As such, updates need to be rolled out on every client computer.All clients must meet performance requirements so they can become expensive. And the costs can multiply if the client hardware can’t run future versions.Only the clients with the appropriate applications can connect to the server.|
Thin Client Model
In the thin client model, the server holds the data and processes the application. The client only presents results to the user. As such, a thin client is often called a “dumb terminal” because it requires very little processing power or maintenance.
Here are the steps in the thin client model:
- The client presents the application and feeds back user interactions to the server.
- The server processes the data and performs any action the user requests.
Ironically, the thin client model requires using fat servers.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using the Thin Client Model?
The table below summarizes the benefits and challenges of using the thin client model.
|Since clients don’t need to do much processing, they are cheaper. And they can also be more flexible since they don’t need to have pre-installed client applications.Only the server requires maintenance and updating.If the server hardware can’t run future versions of the application, you only have to upgrade one component, which is also less expensive than updating multiple clients.Since the server performs the processing, the network has minimal data traffic volume. As such, clients can connect to the server from anywhere with reasonable Internet bandwidth.||The server must meet the performance requirements and thus costs more.All the activities other users do affect the server’s performance if it isn’t scaled appropriately.|
What Kinds of Organizations Use Fat Servers?
Fat servers are ideal for companies that don’t support remote work. Organizations whose employees are confined to a single location can also employ fat servers.
If you’re currently choosing between a fat or thin client model for your corporate network, consider the pros and cons of each architecture featured in this post.
- A fat server provides most of the functionality a client machine within a client/server computing architecture requires.
- A thin client, the counterpart of a fat server, is a simple computer remotely connected to a server-based computing environment.
- Fat servers are ideal for companies that don’t support remote work. Organizations whose employees are confined to a single location can also employ fat servers.