application front ends

appreciate this is a very very broad question, but we are going round documenting the purpose of over 150 servers in our network for risk assessment purposes. For one of our records management type applications, there are 4 different application front end servers. would this typically be for performance/load balancing, or do you suspect there may be a number of different user interfaces to access the database. Most apps I have ever reviewed from a security perspective have just 1 application/front end server, and 1 backend/database server, so to find a set-up with 4 front end servers fazed me somewhat. The guy who knows about the setup is off sick hence trying to get some possibilities for application specialists here...
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Kanti PrasadCommented:

If you have an F5 load balancer or something similar to balance the load then the users will log request through the load balancer and the load balancer decides which of the 4 web\front end servers it will connect.

So if your setup up is
User --- LoadBalancer--- 4 Web\Frontend Server-- ((Optional) -EJB\Hibernate) --- Database

Then the above setup is done for managing load on the FrontEnd Servers and it means that your architecture is vertically and horizontally scalable. It means that if the load if high then you can simple configure another frontend\web server to make it to 5 or more.....

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It can be both... We are supporting following topology: One database backend is used by several frontends to which users are distributed by the load balancer, so exactly same ASP.NET application is running on all front end servers. In addition to ASP.NET the database is accessed by desktop applications which can run on Terminal servers or from the client workstations directly.

You may analyze the processes running on the front end servers, you may check IIS setup (if we are talking about Windows environment) or look at backend where e.g. sp_who2 can give the basic info about users and applications currently connected to SQL Server (if applicable).

Of course, the best answer can give the guy who knows the setup.
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