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Server Farm

A Server Farm, also known as a server cluster, is a collection of computer servers generally maintained by an enterprise and/or hosting provider to accomplish server needs far beyond the capability of one machine.

Server farms often have backup servers for redundancy in the event of a primary server failure. Server farms are typically colocated with the network switches and/or routers, driving efficient communication among different parts of the cluster as well as multiple users. The computers, routers, power supplies and related electronics are typically mounted on 19-inch racks in a server room or data center.

Web hosting is a common use of a server farm; such a system is sometimes collectively referred to as a web server farm. Other uses of server farms include scientific simulations (such as computational fluid dynamics) and the rendering of 3D computer-generated imagery.

Increasingly, large companies are turning to server farms to replace or supplement mainframe computers. However, it’s important for decision makers across the enterprise to understand that server farms do not yet offer the same degree of reliability as mainframes. Due to the sheer number of computers in large server farms, the failure of individual machines is relatively common. Fortunately, most data centers and internet service providers (ISPs) take this into account by providing advanced support for redundancy, automatic failover and rapid reconfiguration of the server cluster.