Servlets are server side components that provide a powerful mechanism for developing server side programs. Servlets provide component-based, platform-independent methods for building Web-based applications, without the performance limitations of CGI programs. Unlike proprietary server extension mechanisms (such as the Netscape Server API or Apache modules), servlets are server as well as platform-independent. This leaves you free to select a "best of breed" strategy for your servers, platforms, and tools. Using servlets web developers can create fast and efficient server side application which can run on any servlet enabled web server. Servlets run entirely inside the Java Virtual Machine. Since the Servlet runs at server side so it does not checks the browser for compatibility. Servlets can access the entire family of Java APIs, including the JDBC API to access enterprise databases. Servlets can also access a library of HTTP-specific calls, receive all the benefits of the mature java language including portability, performance, reusability, and crash protection. Today servlets are the popular choice for building interactive web applications. Third-party servlet containers are available for Apache Web Server, Microsoft IIS, and others. Servlet containers are usually the components of web and application servers, such as BEA WebLogic Application Server, IBM WebSphere, Sun Java System Web Server, Sun Java System Application Server and others.
Servlets are not designed for a specific protocols. It is different thing that they are most commonly used with the HTTP protocols Servlets uses the classes in the java packages javax.servlet and javax.servlet.http. Servlets provides a way of creating the sophisticated server side extensions in a server as they follow the standard framework and use the highly portable java language.
HTTP Servlet typically used to: