The BOSS Is A Network Server Ideal For Small Business

IOGEAR has debuted the BOSS (broadband office storage server), an appliance ideal for small offices because it is a simple and cost-effective means of managing a small network

January 12, 2004

4 Min Read
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Storage acts as the foundation for all other technologies in a network, yet traditionally it has presented the largest challenge to expansion. Network Attached Storage (NAS) offers an ideal solution to growing pains. Most typical NAS units comprise a few hard drives enclosed in a thin client case with a customized operating system. That is, until now.

IOGEAR, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., a connectivity and peripheral manufacturer, recently launched the BOSS (broadband office storage server), a network server appliance that integrates NAS, a cable/DSL router, an Ethernet switch, a dedicated firewall, and also comes with built-in Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server capabilities.

BOSS features cross-platform support for Microsoft Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS X and above. The BOSS is ideal for small and home offices because it is a simple and cost-effective hardware tool used to maintain and manage a small network. The device is capable of hosting a Web site, an objective that many small businesses cannot afford.

Savvy solution providers can use a device such as this to enter the home-integration market, which is a sector of the market that has been extremely fruitful during the past year. A hybrid device such as this would be a perfect fit for SMBs looking to share a DSL or cable modem connection; an SMB looking to provide extra storage space on their network for backup or for creating a personal file server. The device offers a plethora of options.

Initial configuration and installation was straightforward. The quick-start guide enables the device to go online in a matter of minutes. The browser-based management console provided adequate access for setup tasks. Installers will appreciate the information provided by the console's status screen.The BOSS offers speeds and storage capacities that go beyond tape and optical-media backup solutions, and are much easier to manage. It offers the speed and capacity to enable the backup of network-attached computers. Solution providers could combine that capability with remote access of stored data and create a complete end-to-end network backup for any SMB.

A storage device such as this offers several advantages over the traditional rip-and-replace method used for increasing storage. Before NAS appliances entered the picture, solution providers had to shut down networks no matter what the size to add more storage.

Further complicating traditional methods of adding storage space is that many businesses now operate their networks on a 24x7 basis to meet the needs of Web-based collaboration or virtual storefronts. The BOSS solves those problems with on-the-fly installation capabilities and Web-based management to ease integration tasks. However, the BOSS extends well beyond just adding hard-disk space and utilities to a network.

Companies serious about doing business on the Internet must be serious about security, and the first and foremost important precaution is a firewall. The BOSS' integrated firewall obviously was not designed to protect the millions of transactions Fortune 500 businesses do a day, but for securing and protecting a SMB, the BOSS is capable of preventing malcontents from accessing other system resources.

The BOSS falls more along the lines of a hardware-based firewall solution. Hardware-based firewalls are turnkey solutions requiring much less effort to implement. Hardware firewalls are generally ready to go right out of the box, with very little needed in the way of setup or configuration. Setting up the firewall simply involved plugging in the box and configuring it through the GUI.The device included a Web-based management utility that can be administered from any workstation on the network. The utilities offered a graphical interface that allows system integrators to easily control rules that dictate how traffic is permitted to flow in and out of the network.

The BOSS is also designed to enable sharing of cable or DSL broadband connections. The router also offers an integrated 10/100 Ethernet switch; some devices rely on Ethernet hubs, which are less efficient than switches and can limit network scalability.

For solution providers catering to this market, routers are becoming an integral part of the sale. Broadband connectivity is more cost-effective and easier than stringing a T1 line [to an SMB], and the broadband router offers the necessary security.

SMBs are good prospects for broadband, creating a rich opportunity for solution providers. But even more importantly, corporations with existing infrastructure are wiring telecommuters and executives, and using solution providers to do the heavy lifting. The varying applications of cable/DSL broadband also open new opportunities for solution providers in education and government. Like corporations, these two markets are using cable/DSL routers to wire remote offices.

Small and home offices need the same networking capabilities as large corporations, such as Internet access, remote access, file-sharing and data storage. The major problem is that they do not have the resources to pay for expensive high-end systems until now. The BOSS is a cost effective alternative to buying a switch, a router, and a file server. Priced at $399.95 with a 120Gbyte hard drive the unit bundles an impressive array of features and can create a complete network solution by leveraging many of those features.

Product Info At A Glance

PRODUCT: BOSS (Broadband Office Storage Server)
PRICE: $399.95
AUTHORIZATION REQUIREMENTS No authorization required

Warranty: 3 years
Company: IOGEAR Inc.
City, State: Irvine, Calif.
Phone: 949-453-8782 or 866-9-IOGEAR

Web site:

Vincent A Randazzese is an editor for CRN Test Center.

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