Client/Server Networking Model

The client/server networking model is, without question, the most widely implemented model and the one you are most likely to encounter when working in real-world environments. The advantages of the client/server system stem from the fact that it is a centralized model. It allows for centralized network management of all network services, including user management, security, and backup procedures.

A client/server network often requires technically skilled personnel to implement and manage the network. This and the cost of a dedicated server hardware and software increase the cost of the client/server model. Despite this, the advantages of the centralized management, data storage, administration, and security make it the network model of choice. Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of the peer-to-peer and client/server network models.

Table 1 Comparison of Networking Models


Peer-to-Peer Network

Client/Server Network


Restricted to a maximum of 10 computers.

The size of the network is limited only by server size and network hardware, and it can have thousands of connected systems.


Each individual is responsible for the administration of his or her own system. A administrator is not needed.

A skilled network administrator is often required to maintain and manage the network.


Each individual is responsible for maintaining security for shared files or resources connected to the system.

Security is managed from a central location but often requires a skilled administrator to cSorrectly configure.


Minimal startup and implementation cost.

Requires dedicated equipment and specialized hardware and administration, increasing the cost of the network.


Easy to configure and set up.

Often requires complex setup procedures and skilled staff to set up.

Centralized and Distributed Computing

The terms centralized and distributed computing are used to describe where the network processing takes place. In a centralized computing model, one system provides both the data storage and the processing power for client systems. This networking model is most often associated with computer mainframes and dumb terminals, where no processing or storage capability exists at the workstation. These network environments are rare, but they do still exist.

A distributed network model has the processing power distributed between the client systems and the server. Most modern networks use the distributed network model, where client workstations share in the processing responsibilities.