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Web server vs Application server

Brian Percival
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Joined: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 163
Basic q:

What EXACTLY is the difference between a webserver and a application server?
Brian Percival
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 163
ya ya.. That's the first link that came up when I googled But it confused me more..

From what I understood one thing is clear,

--a webserver is a subset of an application server.

If a server can generate dynamic content for the clients, is it a webserver of application server?

Is Tomcat a webserver or application server?

In other words, if a server has servlet/jsp running capabilities, is it a web server or application server?

Edwin Keeton
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Joined: Jul 10, 2002
Posts: 214

Tomcat is primarily a servlet container which extends the functionality of a web server. (Since a servlet container can't do anything without a web server, Tomcat includes its own web server for convenience.)

In J2EE terms, an application server usually means it also has an EJB container. An application server handles things like database connections, lifecycle management, transactions and so on. I don't think this is necessarily a "legal" definition, it just seems to me that this is what most people mean when they say "application server."

Clearly though, you can build robust, scalable Java applications without EJB. If you have Tomcat and Apache, for instance, using Struts and Hibernate frameworks, would you call that an application server?

Brian Percival
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2004
Posts: 163
Greetings from Hogwarts,

Hussain, thank you very much for replying.. It helped me alot. I appreciate it..
Kanag sen

Joined: Sep 07, 2003
Posts: 8
Hope this helps

- Provides access to static content(html, etc.) by just sending the file to the client.
- Provides accesss to dynamic content by delegating the processing of dynamic web pages like jsp and asp to appropriate engines like servlet container and ASP engine respectively.

Application Server
- A Webserver with the ability to deploy and manage applications and expose business logic to the client.

=============<br />SCJCP, SCWCD
Ashik Uzzaman
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Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2373

Web server usually serves http request while application server deals with various sorts of protocols to serve. So in this context web server is a subset of application server. But I really dont feel comfortable with the definition that applicaiton server is a web server+something.

Ashik Uzzaman
Senior Software Engineer, TubeMogul, Emeryville, CA, USA.
Ko Ko Naing
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 08, 2002
Posts: 3178
Originally posted by Ashik uzzaman:
But I really dont feel comfortable with the definition that applicaiton server is a web server+something.

I confirm that also... Web Server may stay outside of application server as well... Then so-called something is alone in applicaiton server...

Co-author of SCMAD Exam Guide, Author of JMADPlus
Nicholas Cheung
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 07, 2003
Posts: 4982
Application server does not necessary be the Web server, although usually, big vendors implement their application server in this way


SCJP 1.2, OCP 9i DBA, SCWCD 1.3, SCJP 1.4 (SAI), SCJD 1.4, SCWCD 1.4 (Beta), ICED (IBM 287, IBM 484, IBM 486), SCMAD 1.0 (Beta), SCBCD 1.3, ICSD (IBM 288), ICDBA (IBM 700, IBM 701), SCDJWS, ICSD (IBM 348), OCP 10g DBA (Beta), SCJP 5.0 (Beta), SCJA 1.0 (Beta), MCP(70-270), SCBCD 5.0 (Beta), SCJP 6.0, SCEA for JEE5 (in progress)
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Web server vs Application server
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