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FileEngine changes the server rules

Pay for services and get the server for free

By James E. Gaskin, Network World
September 28, 2006 01:41 PM ET
James Gaskin

The server question used to be about how much you'd pay for your hardware. Now the question is whether your data files, including backup, are worth $8 per day? If so, FileEngine has a deal for you.

FileEngine, a small company grown out of Server Partners in Indianapolis, turned the way to evaluate file servers upside down. CEO Kim Brand realized his small business customers didn't want file servers per se, they wanted a reliable, secure place to store their files and have them backed up without worrying. The company’s advertising slogans are "no worries" and "It's more than a server. It's a promise."

Big words from a little company you never heard of, right? But for $235 per month (the $8 per day), FileEngine the company will put a physical FileEngine the server and a 620 VA Uninterrupted Power Supply at your location, configure it for your network and storage requirements, and manage it remotely. This includes automatic backups to dual-layer DVDs. Optional services (more $$ per month) include offsite backups over the Internet, licenses for more than 10 users, and more fault tolerant disk space.

FileEngines are custom servers using PC hardware (2.4 GHz Pentium P4 CPU) running a specialized version of Linux that's completely hidden from users. An LCD panel on the front with four pushbuttons provides server information and some maintenance operations like shutdowns, reboots, and creating a special disk image DVD for easy disaster recovery. Hard disks are mirrored, so one disk failure won't lose any of your data. The server doesn't have dual power supplies because that jumps the case price considerably, but does have an extra fan to keep things cool. Even with the extra fan the server is quiet aurally but loud visually: it's fire engine (or FileEngine) red.

Windows software utilities allow a local administrator (called a Key Operator) to add, modify or delete local users and handle a few other housekeeping chores. All other management functions are performed remotely by FileEngine. Data backups run automatically. When a new backup DVD is needed, the FileEngine "sticks out its tongue" by ejecting the DVD. FileEngine sends 100 blank DVDs with the system, and the backups can be read by any Windows computer with a dual layer DVD player.

A local reseller installs and configures your system, including tying it into existing Windows server domains if necessary. User folders like My Documents can be redirected to private storage areas on the server so user files get backed up automatically, too. You can use the box as a print server as well.

What FileEngine doesn't do is provide a full Microsoft Windows 2003 Server feature set with Exchange e-mail server, IIS Web server, SharePoint server and shared Outlook e-mail calendars and task lists. All of these functions are available with Linux server operating systems, but FileEngine decided not to provide them, focusing instead on guaranteed file service. Microsoft Exchange is overkill for most small companies, but if you want to use both servers you can certainly do so.

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