Server Roles in Windows Server 2003

The term server refers to a machine that is providing a service for other machines, e.g. A computer which shares files on the network would be classed as a file server. For example, A Domain Controller is classed as a server because it is providing a service for the rest of the clients on the network. Windows 2003 can take several different server roles. These are as follows:

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File Server

A File Server stores files and folders that are used by other machines on the network. It can hold applications, text documents, or a user’s My Documents Folder.  For security, many shared folders are housed on file servers. A distributed file system is housed on more than one file server for the sake of fault-tolerance and ease of access.

A Windows XP Professional machine may act as a limited File Server.

A Windows Server 2003 Computer can also act as a file server for different operating systems, e.g. Apple Macintosh.

Print Server

A Print Server is a computer that has a printer attached to it and shares the printer for use on the network.

A Windows XP Professional Machine can be a reasonably capable Print Server.

Application Server

Besides being a Domain Controller, Windows Server 2003 can also be a host to many different services e.g. as a Database Server and a Terminal Server.

Some Common Microsoft Servers:

Microsoft Exchange allows you to setup an e-mail server and also allows you setup a messaging and collaboration system for your company’s network.

Microsoft SQL Server enables you to setup up powerful database servers for your company’s network.

Microsoft ISA Server allows you to setup an Internet Gateway/Proxy Server for your company’s network.

These applications require Windows Server 2003. Their integration with Active Directory allows for tighter security and easier administration.

A Database Server holds a database! This is not just a list of information. It is structured, and dynamic. It needs to be managed, updated, extended and secure, while at the same time being accessible to users.  A dedicated server is required for this.

Remote Administration enables an administrator to manage a server from almost any workstation on the network using Terminal Services. Terminal Services lets workstations use powerful applications housed at the server as if they were installed at that workstation.

Web Servers

A Web Server hosts and manages websites for the Internet or an intranet. Because of the need to manage heavy and burst-mode traffic while maintaining security, a dedicated server is recommended.

Windows 2003 can function as a web server using the Internet Information Services (IIS) service

Windows XP Professional ships with a limited version of IIS which allows a workstation to host a single website.