Web Server vs. Application Server: What’s the Difference?

For many embedded developers, web application development is a whole new ball game. Common misperceptions about device-level web development can result in the selection of the wrong choice of development tools which causes frustration and delayed projects.

A web server fetches and relays a static HTML file, while an app server executes each page as a computer program each time the page is accessed by a web client.

App Server vs. Web Server

For a quick, visual comparison of the two, check out our TL;DR chart:

How Do Web Servers and Application Servers Work Together?

In a typical (non embedded) deployment, a website runs a web server for the static content and a separate application server for the business logic. However, in resource constrained systems, including embedded systems and devices, a combined web server and application server is necessary. These systems require a small application server with a fast internal embedded web server. For more information, see our Web Servers vs. Application Servers Tutorial.

See also: a modern approach to embedding a web server in a device