The Appliance Alternative


Product: InstaRak Secure Server Appliance, InstaRak HP Secure Server Appliance
Price: $1,349 for InstaRak, $1,999 for InstaRak HP
Recent Upgrade: Yes, InstaRak HP was rolled out in February. At that time, we updated our InstaRak software to include MySQL database, Active Server Pages (ASP) support and an SNMP agent. ASP is a standard feature on the InstaRak HP and an optional SoftPak on the InstaRak.
Distributors/Integrators: Ingram Micro
Test Center Comment: While this secure “server appliance” from eSoft isn’t designed to replace a file server in a typical network, it complements the network by performing key Web, FTP and e-mail hosting tasks. For solution providers looking to venture into the hosting arena, the InstaRak provides all the needed bells and whistles at an attractive cost. The InstaRak Secure Server Appliance comes with a 566MHz Intel processor, a 20-Gbyte hard drive, 64 Mbytes of RAM and integrated application security technology. The higher-end InstaRak HP Secure Server Appliance has an 850MHz Intel processor, a 40-Gbyte hard drive, 256 Mbytes of RAM, integrated application security technology, ASP support, a SQL database and an SNMP agent.

Product: Sun Cobalt Qube 3
Price: $1,149
Recent Upgrade: No
Distributors/Integrators: CDW Computer Centers, Insight, Tech Data
Test Center Comment: The toaster-size Sun Cobalt Qube 3 sports purple cladding over an unconventional, box-shaped housing, but the product embodies what a network appliance should be. The Qube 3 has an Intel-compatible 450MHz processor, 128 Mbytes of RAM and a pair of 20-Gbyte hard drives set up in a RAID Level 1 configuration, mirroring all data and providing excellent fault tolerance. The product’s browser interface makes setup a breeze, and integrators will find the operating system and bundled software robust. Included are an Apache Web server, Samba file sharing services, Microsoft FrontPage support and BlueLinq service, which facilitates downloads and installs of software enhancements and patches. Another nifty feature is Web mail service, which lets users retrieve e-mail from the unit via the Internet.

Product: Net Integrator Mark I
Price: $2,999 (20 percent discount for partners)
Recent Upgrade: Yes, product formerly called Net Integrator Mark I-idb
Distributors/Integrators: Direct to solution providers
Test Center Comment: Designed to pack as many features as possible into a midsize tower case, the Mark I offers a solid server solution for small businesses. The appliance has a minimum AMD Athlon XP 1700 processor, 256 Mbytes of ECC memory, two 80-Gbyte Ultra DMA/100 removable hard drives that support RAID 1, three 10/100 network interface card ports, a serial DB9 interface for an external dial-in/out analog modem, and a VFD panel for easy setup and control. The Mark I also bundles an impressive array of features—notably Dynamic DNS support, which allows sites to host Web pages and manage remote access without the increased cost of a static IP address. The included VPN software enhances remote user security. The unit also includes a secure Web server, Web mail, Windows file sharing and a print server. Those features will provide the most value in a typical appliance installation.

Product: Magnia SG20
Price: Starts at $1,440
Recent Upgrade: Yes, updated from the Magnia SG10
Distributors/Integrators: CDW Computer Centers, Comark, Ingram Micro, Insight, Microwarehouse, PC Connection, PC Wholesale, Synnex, Tech Data
Test Center Comment: The Magnia SG20 is a cost-effective, portable wireless server that’s ideal for small offices and other businesses seeking mobile networking. About the size of a Toshiba notebook, the appliance can fit into an ordinary computer case, and its sleek, lightweight design makes it easy for users to pack up their entire network and take it on the road. To protect the network and valuable data from unwanted access, the Magnia SG20 also includes several security features, such as a configurable firewall to safeguard company data and a VPN for authorizing access to users connecting from off-site locations. Clearly targeted at the small network or home office user, the SG20 discards advanced features in favor of a slim form factor and worry-free setup.