Difference Between Client Server and Peer to Peer

Client Server vs Peer to Peer

Client server and peer to peer are two network architectures. In the client server architecture, tasks or workloads are partitioned between servers, and services are requested by clients. Usually, clients and servers communicate through a computer network, but they can also reside on the same system. In peer to peer architecture, tasks or workloads are partitioned between peers and these peers are said to form a peer to peer network. Peers have the same potential and privileges. Peers make a part of their resources such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth available to other participants in the network.

What is Client Server?

As mentioned earlier, client server architecture is built on the concept of servers providing services and a set of clients requesting those services. A server is actually a host that is running one or more server programs, which share their resources with the clients. The client initiates the communication session with the servers by requesting server’s content or services. Servers always await incoming requests from clients. There are several client server varieties today. But they also have several common features such as a centralized security database, which controls the access to shared resources on the server. The server contains a list of usernames and passwords and a user is only allowed to access the network only if they provide a valid username and a password to the server. After they login, users can only access those resources that have been granted permission for by the network administrator. Widely used functions such as email exchange, web access and database access are built on the client–server architecture.

What is Peer to Peer?

In a peer to peer network, resources are shared between peers without any central coordination by a server. Peers act as both suppliers and consumers of resources. Peer to peer systems implement an abstract overlay network at the application layer on top of the physical network topology. The idea behind peer to peer networks is to share resources inexpensively as possible. There is no centralized security scheme and end users themselves are allowed to control access to resources, reducing the security in peer to peer networks. Users can create any share point that they wish in their computer and security can only be provided by assigning a password when they create the share point. Peer to peer network structure was used by popular file sharing systems like Napster.

What is the difference between Client-Server and Peer to Peer Network Architectures?

The main difference between client-server and peer to peer systems is that in the client-server architecture, there are designated clients that request for services and servers that provide services, but in peer to peer systems, peers act as both service providers and service consumers. Further, client-server systems require central file server and they are expensive to implement than peer to peer systems. On the other hand, in the client-server system, a dedicated file server provides level of access to the clients, providing better security than peer to peer systems where security is handled by the end users. Further, peer to peer networks suffer in performance as the number of nodes increase, but client-server systems are more stable and could be scaled as much as you need. Therefore, selecting one over the other is dependent on the environment that you need to implement.