One Server Nearly Does It All - InformationWeek

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4/12/2004
12:26 PM
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One Server Nearly Does It All

Review: The Axentra OfficeSeries Server S-200 provides small-business security and network connectivity in a single, Linux-based appliance.

Many small offices struggle with configuring and maintaining the multitude of devices and services required to keep them digitally viable.

Connections from cable or DSL modems to PCs in the office can quickly become a confusing tangle of wires linking file servers, firewalls, network switches, web servers, wireless access points, and more. Many small business owners will tell you that once they've finally got their configuration working, they dread touching it for fear something may stop working. Then, not only will they be without their network, they'll also have to spend the day troubleshooting.

Axentra's OfficeSeries Servers address precisely these issues by putting nearly everything needed to support a small office in a single PC case. Small Business Pipeline reviewed Axentra's S-200 - priced at $749 -- which is their middle-of-the-line system. The lower-priced model S-100 doesn't include a wireless access point or blogging software, while the top-end S-500 includes more robust web hosting and e-mail facilities to better serve larger offices.

We found the S-200 to be a terrific combination that replaced four separate devices, three remote subscription services, and added several functions I had planned on spending more money on.

Plug and Go

The server is designed as an appliance, meaning it is managed from computers connected to it, rather than by directly attached monitor and keyboard.

Setup is simple if you take a leap of faith and start by unplugging any devices the server will be replacing, such as firewall and router, the simply attach the Axentra server in their place, plug it in and turn it on and reboot your PCs.

The four-page getting started guide made the setup process simple and quick. Diagrams show the most common network setups, and I selected the network diagram that matched my configuration, then attached the cables as shown.

I turned the server on, and I was then able to browse to the server's control panel from my main PC to perform the initial setup, which consisted of the wireless connection, internal network addresses, and firewall restrictions from a single browser window. The setup involves selecting menu options, and since there were only four items to configure this worked nicely.

Aside from getting rid of a tangle of cables, you now have a fairly complete set of tools and equipment. The main hardware components include a 120Gb hard drive, 802.11g wireless access point, router, firewall, and print server. Since these all exist in the same device, they all work together and are managed from the same interface.

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