A Blue Jewel

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted June 01, 2000
by Joey Latimer

Cobalt Qube 2
Rating 90

At first glance, the cobalt qube 2 looks more like a small air purifier than a piece of network equipment, but don't let the size and shape fool you. This Internet/intranet server device packs more hardware and functionality than products six times its size. It comes pre-configured with a broad palette of intranet and Internet services that make it possible for a small business to have a solid Internet presence without much fuss.

The Qube 2 is a ready-to-use appliance. It can be configured and maintained by any computer on the network and avoids the extra computer hardware of traditional servers, like keyboards, sound cards, monitors, etc. It has everything needed to manage network-wide Internet access, with built-in Web and e-mail servers and a firewall. It enables cross-platform file sharing, private discussion groups, document indexing and searching, and more.

The unit can serve 1 million Web page requests and 400,000 e-mails per day. The Linux operating system is cross platform compatible with Windows, UNIX, and Mac operating systems. It can support more than 150 users and a choice of connectivity options via DSL, ISDN, or other high speed routers, making it powerful enough to grow with a company's needs.

Setting up the Qube 2 was not major a chore. Using the Quick Start Guide, we powered up the unit, plugged it into our LAN, and used the buttons and the LCD screen on the back to configure IP and Gateway/Router addresses.

Within a few minutes we were able to access the Qube 2's configuration screens from any workstation using a browser. Cobalt promises that a non-technical person can have the server up and running in less than 15 minutes. Although there is some truth to this statement, we recommend that a system administrator install the device. Cobalt needs to provide more elaborate background information and tutorials for the non-techies, specifically on the way routers, subnet masks, domain-name servers, and DHCP servers work.

Once set up, we put the Qube 2 through the process of creating a new domain and Web site, as well as setting up a few e-mail accounts on the network. We used the bundled, browser-based Page Builder software to create our Web page. We were impressed with the data backup and restore options, and the index and search features, as well as the threaded discussion groups. Access to the Internet from any of the workstations was flawless and quick, even when using a shared dialup modem.

The Cobalt Qube 2 is proof that big things can come in small packages. At a time when server appliances are exploding in the marketplace, this diamond of a device is tough to beat.

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