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Linux Network Appliances

As networking becomes increasingly pervasive, the amount of effort needed to manage general purpose servers makes their use less attractive. Now, an easier way to network has emerged.

Appliances Illustration (5)

There has been a recent explosion of network appliance-based products, ranging from Web servers and caching Web proxies to file servers and firewalls. But what exactly is a network appliance and why are many industry analysts proclaiming that Linux will be successful in this market?

An appliance is a network server much like a traditional NT or UNIX server. But, rather than operating as a general purpose server, network appliances, also known as “thin servers”, are usually dedicated to one task.

Dataquest defines a thin server as:

“a specialized, network-based hardware device used by businesses, and designed to perform a single or specialized set of server functions. It is characterized by running a minimal operating architecture, and client access is independent of any operating system or proprietary protocol. The device is a ‘closed box,’ delivering extreme ease of installation and minimal maintenance, and can be managed remotely from a Web browser.”

– The Gartner Group (http://www.dataquest.com)

As noted in the preceding quote, one of the main benefits of network appliances over traditional servers is ease of installation and use. Most can be configured and maintained using simple “fill-out-forms” in an ordinary Web browser like Netscape. Others use a simple client/server application…

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