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EXPLORING THE INTERNET, Article 7: Understanding Web Hosts

Title: EXPLORING THE INTERNET, Article 7: Understanding Web Hosts
Author: James Eastman, M.S. Computer Science
Date Published: 11/20/2007


In the client/server model of the World Wide Web, we have the browser as the client, and the web host as the server. As the name implies information is served from the host computer. Like a waiter in a restaurant, items are requested, and then later delivered to the appropriate location.

A server environment consists of two main parts: the computer hardware and the server software. Colophon New Media, for example, offers website hosting in the Windows environment. So, a web site that is hosted by Colophon resides on a computer that runs Windows server software.  The server side interactions do more than send simple web pages to the client browser. Other interactions take place with CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts that run external programs like database lookups or interactive form processing.

To speed up and simplify the development of interactions like these, some hosts employ yet another software that sits on top of the main server software. So-called "MiddleWare"  is capable of serving very powerful things to web browsers, like chat programs, live information feeds, streaming video and many other interactive features. Colophon New Media uses a middleware called ColdFusion which was developed by the Allaire company, then Macromedia and is now owned by the software giant Adobe.

The key to the success of a well designed and programmed web site is having it reside on a top-quality host. While great things can be provided by good web hosting, a cheap, discount host will run slowly and not offer the features required of the modern business website. These companies lure consumers to their large disk capacity and unlimited email. Discount web hosting is not a good idea for a business seeking success online.

Behind every great web site is a great host.



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