The host – central point for data and functions in information technology
The term host has had a firm place in electronic data processing since the 1960s. The systems at that time had a strong hierarchical structure. Today, the term host is used for computer systems that perform server functions and/or serve and control clients.
The host term
In the early days of computing, the term host was used in connection with the mainframe computers in use at the time. At that time – due to technical limitations – time-sharing and multi-user operating systems were used. The breakdown here consisted of a host, which was used as an intelligent central processing unit, and the clients, which were little more than terminals for operating the capacities of the mainframe. The devices of the time were used by end users only for inputting and outputting data. Over time, the terms have merged and hosts are often equated with servers.
Hardware or virtual – host design options
Hardware hosts are installed on powerful computers with redundant systems, called servers. Since these computers are usually always in operation, components designed for continuous operation, such as SAS hard disks, must also be installed. To avoid failures, multiple main processors and redundant power supplies are used. A RAID system, i.e. the redundant arrangement of several physical, independent hard disks, is mandatory. Virtual hosts are also being used more and more frequently, for example when different services are offered on one computer, each of which requires its own operating system environment. The use of virtual systems has several advantages: space and costs are saved, the changeover to new hardware and the relocation of individual hosts to other servers or the migration of a system are quick and without problems.
Definition: The host as database provider
In the information industry, the term has also become established, but as a designation for providers of fee-based specialized information. Synonymous terms are database provider, information provider or also aggregator. These hosts offer the bundling, storage and/or sale of multimedia information that is otherwise not freely accessible on the Internet. The hosts are usually specialized in certain subject areas. A distinction is made between providers of documents, so-called full-text databases, and hosts that merely provide references to documents or publications. These hosts are usually referred to as literature databases or bibliography. Finally, there are factual databases, which contain statistical and numerical data such as time series or stock figures. In technical terminology, this area of the Internet that cannot be found via search engines is also referred to as the “Deep Web”.
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