Host (Network)

A network host can simply be explained as a device — commonly a computer or some kind of computing equipment — that acts as a communication point with other computers or computing devices in a well organized network. The computers being communicated with by the host may also be referred to as hosts when assessed separately. A network host usually tenders its information resources including applications and other services to other points in the network and the users behind them. A network host can also be described as some kind of node that is usually allocated to a network layer with the aid of its host address.

Other Types of Hosts

Network hosts should not be confused with other usages of the term in the Information Technology sphere like web host, which basically is a web based server that is used for the storage and transmission of data and files of several websites. In this case, the host may also be defined as the service provider whose internet infrastructure is being rented. The process of providing this service is usually called hosting.

Cloud host is a new term coined from much popular cloud technology, a new omniscient network system garnering lots of plaudits. The cloud host functions in a peculiar manner that allows the servers in the system to act as a single co-ordinated unit. Its base components are a network of several servers pulling vast resources from centers that are spread across the entire globe.  It is, however, quite possible for a public network to transfer physically stored data found on virtual and shared servers using an innovative model called the cloud model.

Network Hosts

Computer devices are usually referred to as IP hosts if they belong to a network that utilizes IPS (short for Internet Protocol Suite), while they are called Internet hosts when they are part of an internet network. IP hosts and its affiliates including internet hosts usually have network interfaces that are linked with one or more Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The addresses can be configured either automatically with the aid of the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) or with manual configuration that mostly involves the assistance of an administrator. IP addresses may also be configured with a less popular method that involves stateless address auto-configuration.

All network hosts can usually also be referred to as physical nodes or a network device, however, not all physical nodes can be called a network host.  Devices like hubs and modems that cannot be allotted host addresses...unless they are done for administrative reasons...are not considered to be true network hosts. Intermediary device such as routers, network printers, and switches can also not be put in the same category as most computers therefore cannot be labelled a true host.

Hosts and Servers

The basic rule when comparing this two similar entity is to note that though not hosts are servers, all servers are in fact hosts. This basic rule is based on the ways in which the computing equipments carry out their duties. As it has been broadly explained, devices with the capability to establish and maintain connection with a network are called hosts; however, only the hosts that can be connected to by other devices are called servers.

Software or a multi-user computer that provides services to devices incapable of facilitating their own network service is referred to as terminal host. An important example of this is a mainframe computer.

Computer Terminal

This can be more elaborately described as a system or hardware device that is mostly utilized to enter, store, and display information from a computing system. While the first sets of terminals manufactured were cheap, very slow, and unreliable; the evolution of technology saw tremendous improvement in subsequent devices, which were very efficient and swift. The main function of a computer terminal is limited to the input of information or data, though there may be certain devices with data processing features. These devices are usually referred to as smart terminal.

While normal computer systems can function as a terminal, only a minute few terminals can efficiently carry out tasks usually completed by computer systems.    

Mainframe Computer as a Host

A Mainframe computer is a very large computer system used mostly in a big corporation and organization for applications that are very critical, the processing of large and complex data, and as a solid base for a network system. Mainframes are typically used in organizations that carry out multiple of complicated transactions, thus making them common features in business companies and trading establishment. Their usage as hosts stem from the fact that they can effortlessly process data in networks containing enormous amounts of computers and network devices. They should however be differentiated from super computers, which are more commonly utilized in the scientific field to carry out very complex calculations and decode complicated formulas.

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