How P2P and Client-Server Computer Networks Compare

When you plan to set up a computer network which will make the cooperation between your employees even more effective, you have to make a number of important decisions. One of them is on the type of network operating system which you will use. You have two options – peer-to-peer (P2P) system and client-server system. Take a closer look at both options and their advantages and disadvantages.

Peer-to-Peer System Pros and Cons

In a P2P computer network, all participating devices and their users are equal. They can share all resources between each other freely. They can all act as system administrators. At the same time, there is no central server which keeps all resources. The modern desktop operating systems can function as P2P systems as well.

The main benefit of a peer-to-peer network is the lower setup cost. There is no need for investing in a computer which will act as a server. If the computers in your office already have an operating system like Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, it will most probably require reconfiguration to be used as a network system. This will also help to bring costs down. Besides, it will make the setup much faster and easier. Another benefit is that each user will have greater control over the system.

There are several drawbacks as well. The level of security is lower due to the equal access and capabilities of all computers. There is no central storage and this may pose a greater risk of data loss.

A P2P computer network is more suitable for small to medium-sized companies which have employees with good technical knowledge.

Client-Server System Pros and Cons

With this type of system, there is a server computer which stores all data and applications. A larger network can have more than one server. The rest of the computers can access the data and apps on the server. They are called clients. There are specially designed operating systems for client-server networks.

This type of system has several notable benefits. The centralization allows for a higher level of security. Additionally, it is much easier and more cost-efficient for such a system to be expanded. This gives a company greater flexibility in the short term and in the long term as well. The nature of the system makes upgrading and the integration of new technology easier as well. It is possible for the server to be accessed remotely via different platforms. This can provide for an ever greater increase in productivity.

One of the major drawbacks of a client-server system is the fairly high setup cost. Additionally, the network will require more maintenance due to the presence of the server. As it expands, these needs will increase even further. This will inevitably lead to higher operating cost. Another disadvantage is that if the server goes down, the whole network will stop functioning.

A client-server system is more suitable for large companies which require a large network. The employees who will use the client computers require basic technical knowledge while the server has to be managed and maintained professionally.

You need to consider the individual requirements of your company in order to decide on the right type of operating system for your computer network.

Implementing a Data Capture System – Thin Or Thick Client?

Not Choosing Wisely When Deciding on a Thick or Thin Client Solution

Whenever I hear the phrase “Not choosing wisely” or some variation of that I am always reminded of the third Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail movie and the scene when the Knight that is guarding the Holy Grail in the cave says “He chose poorly”. This was after the German colonel died when drinking the water from the wrong cup. In the world of client/server architecture, it is important to ‘choose wisely’ when you are determining if it will be the client or the server that handles the bulk of the workload. By client, we mean the application that runs on a personal computer or workstation and relies on a server to perform operations. While they share similarities, there are many differences between thick and thin clients. By the way, we refer to thick and thin as the hardware (e.g., how a PC communicates with the server), but the terms are also used to describe applications. In a nut shell, a thick client application is run from a central location or server while a thin client application can be run remotely from various locations like branch offices or military depots. And while the marketplace provides both thick and thin client data capture applications in various shapes and sizes knowing how to choose which one is right for your business and budget is critical.

Thin Clients

A thin client is designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs on the server. Although the term thin client often refers to software, it is increasingly used for the computers, such as network computers and Net PCs, which are designed to serve as the clients for client/server architectures. A thin client is a network computer which operates without the need for a hard disk drive. They act as a simple terminal to the server and require constant communication with the server as well. With a data capture system the actual capture of the document initially lives on the computer of the thin client, but is saved to the server. The thin client (web page) application can then instruct the server what to do to the document or what indexes to save. In areas of slow network response, the thin client software can be scheduled to send the captured documents to the server at certain times of the day or night when network traffic is light.

A thin client data capture solution may be right for you if you have branch offices or distributed remote locations and you want to be able to capture and process data at those locations rather than shipping the paperwork to a central processing center. In this case you can lower your costs and enhance your security (no lost papers in the mail) by scanning and capturing remotely. Additionally, by accessing the capture application through a Web browser, there is no software to install and configure at each user’s computer, leading to easier scalability and a lower initial and ongoing technology investment. Both named user seat licenses and concurrent user licenses are available in the thin client marketplace but our advice is to find a concurrent user model, especially if you have several remote locations or branches.

Thick Clients

In contrast, a thick client (also called a fat client) is one that will perform the bulk of the processing in client/server applications. With data capture thick clients, there is no need for continuous server communications as mainly you are communicating archival storage information to the server. As in the case of a thin client, the term is often used to refer to software, but it is also used to describe the networked computer itself.

If your operations do not involve branches or distributed locations or you don’t have the need for a lot of seats and want named user licenses then you would probably want to consider using a thick client data capture solution. Additionally, if your applications require multimedia components or are bandwidth intensive, you’ll want to consider going with a thick client solution as well. One of the biggest advantages of thick clients rests in the nature of some operating systems and software being unable to run on thin clients effectively due to resource issues. Thick clients can handle these issues as they have their own resources.

At the end of the day, when choosing either a thin client or thick client data capture solution, you will need to consider if your business will capture and process documents remotely or centrally and where you want the bulk of your processing to take place. Like the knight in the Indiana Jones movie, we caution you to ‘choose wisely’.

Look for our next article on Fourth of Five Key Data Capture Implementation Mistakes: Choosing Size over Flexibility.

What Is a Virtual Private Server and Xmpp Server?

Virtual private server (VPS) is the term used in the web hosting industry to refer to a virtual machine. Virtual private servers are similar in some ways to dedicated servers and are similar in other ways to shared servers. In a VPS service, the client feels that he/she is allocated a separate server for his/her website. The client is provided with a separate operating system and he/she can install any software that is permitted by the operating system. The client is also allocated separate resources such as CPU time and bandwidth. These are the ways in which VPS hosting is similar to dedicated servers.

In reality the client’s operating system is stored in the same server as many other VPS operating systems (of other clients). In other words, the client actually shares a single server with other VPS clients; similar to shared hosting. The difference between shared hosting and VPS hosting is that the client is allocated separate software and other such non-physical resources in VPS hosting. The functionality of the client’s operating system is not at all influenced by the presence of other operating systems. VPS severstypically cost more than shared hosting, but is less expensive than dedicated servers. Some types of software will not function properly in a VPS operating environment. Such software includes anti-virus software and firewalls. The web hosting provider may also place additional restrictions, but usually such restrictions are more lenient than the restrictions placed on shared hosting. The number of VPS clients who can share one machine is limited by the resources available in that machine (including processor speed and RAM).

Xmpp stands for Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. It was earlier known as the ‘Jabber’. The main purpose of xmpp is to provide extensible instant messaging (IM). It is also used for contact list maintenance and presence information. Although it was not originally present, xmpp has been extended to support new features such as Voice Over Internet and File transfer. When compared to other IM protocols, the specialty in xmpp is that it is an open systems protocol. This means that one xmpp service can be incorporated with other organizations’ services. Both the software and most other additional applications are available for free download.

Xmpp uses a decentralized approach. This means that any person can implement and maintain their xmpp server; there is no central server controlling the whole network. There are many security features implemented in xmpp. Xmpp servers can be isolated from the public network. This is useful for running an intranet service. Tough security specifications have been built into the xmpp software. Client-server approach is used in xmpp to facilitate communication. In this approach, any two clients will not be able to communicate directly with each other, but will have to communicate through a server. However, unlike some chat services, there is no centralized server controlling all communications.