Network Engines Revamps Web Appliance
- By Scott Bekker
Server appliances are proving to be a hot market for
server vendors, but Network Engines
has focused on making its products cooler. Today Network Engines
unveiled its flagship WebEngine, featuring faster processors and a new cooling
WebEngine Sierra is designed as a commodity Web server
sitting at the edge of the network, serving up Web presentations. Network
Engines bills Sierra and its other appliance servers as “plug-and-play”
solutions designed for quick implementation and a minimum of configuration.
The new server appliance is a 1U rackmount server,
featuring dual 1-GHz Pentium IIIs and up to 4GB of RAM. Users can hot-swap its
four SCSI hard drives, and configure them for RAID level 0, 1, 3, and 5.
Network Engines expects that its users will mount up to 42
of its server appliances in a single rack. With up to 84 gigahertz Pentiums in
a tight space heat becomes a significant problem, so the company designed the
unit with cooling in mind. The box features hot-swappable fans - if a fan
fails, users can open the chassis and replace a fan while the server stays up.
In addition, Network Engines appropriated technology from
the laptop world to enhance its cooling ability. Sierra features heat pumps,
copper tubes with a circulating liquid to dissipate heat. Rick Friedman, vice
president of marketing at Network Engines says that heat pumps cool more
efficiently than traditional heat sinks. He believes that Network Engines is
currently the only company to implement heat pumps in a server.
Sierra features a pre-configured webserver and a web-based
management console. Network Engines also offers a management appliance,
AdminEngine, which can monitor and manage up to 255 appliances as a single
cluster. Users can also configure Sierra via pushbuttons and an LCD screen on
the front of the unit.
While some companies are touting the Transmeta Crusoe
processor as an ideal solution for creating low power, low heat servers,
Friedman says that Network Engines is taking a wait and see attitude toward
Crusoe. “If there’s an advantage with those processors, we’ll use those
processors,” he says, noting that Crusoe currently runs slower than Intel and
AMD processors. He wonders if Crusoe can match the speed of the Pentium and
Athlon and still generate less heat. – Christopher
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.