RealTime IT News

Network Engines Intros Thin Server Appliance

Yes, thin racks are in and Network Engines Inc. wants to take advantage with a new line of "cooler" rack servers that aim to improve reliability.

The server appliance specialist Wednesday rolled out WebEngine Sierra, the first 1.75-inch high platform in a new line of products that feature advanced thermal cooling to repel maximum heating.

The hardware is geared for service providers, content delivery networks and enterprises that require distributed Internet clusters.

Sierra is the newborn of the WebEngine appliance family, which boasts fast deployment, remote management capabilities and configuration with a front panel LCD.

As for installation speed, Network Engines said Sierra is a plug-and-play -- all that is needed is for an IT person to appliance an Internet protocol (IP) address and load the desired application on the server.

Network Engines is touting the "coolness" ability of its Sierra server, taking into account the fact that rack server are stacked closely together in multiples -- as much as 42 Intel Pentium III 1GHz servers in a standard equipment rack. What keeps Sierra cool is its integrated heat pipe technology and cable-less airflow system coupled with six fans to prevent overheating.

The company needs Sierra to be extremely reliable, especially if it is going to go up against the Suns and the Hewlett-Packards, which also hype thin servers that businesses crave to conserve space.

John Humphreys, research analyst with IDC, said servers can be as powerful as possible, but if they melt down they're useless.

"The Network Engines approach to cooling server appliances avoids placing the entire burden on one fan," Humphreys said. "Instead, Network Engines employs a redundant system of fans that can effectively cool the box should one fan go down. This allows the server appliance to operate efficiently and remain available."

While Humphreys was intrigued by the cooling system, Network Engines President and CEO Lawrence Genovesi played up the server's speed-to-install.

"WebEngine Sierra ships ready to go out of the box, so that customers can get it up and running in minutes, instead of days, without exorbitant purchase and deployment costs," Genovesi said. "Sierra is the most full-featured server appliance on the market and will serve as the foundation for our next generation of server appliances."

Genovesi hopes the latter is true, because the forces that make or break most hardware firms -- namely sales slowdowns and the overall depressed economy -- have levied their beatings on the firm.

Last Dec. 20, Genovesi and Co. warned that first-quarter sales would be below analysts' expectations of $19.5 million to $7 million to $10 million for those very reasons.

A month later showed just how badly the economy had been to Network Engines. On Jan. 25, the firm revealed revenues of $6.9 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2000.

The new Sierra server could be the breath of fresh air the company is looking for.

WebEngine Sierra is available immediately and includes a base offering of $3,495 for a single 800 MHz 133 speed front side bus Intel Pentium III processor, 9 GB U160 SCSI drive to a mid-range configuration with dual Pentium III 1GHz processors, 2 18GB U160 SCSI drives, that runs $6,735.