Solaris-Based Net Appliance Proves Solid

By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2001-11-19 Print this article Print

UVNetworks Inc.'s WebBox 1000 Internet server appliance combines ease of use with the Solaris platform to provide Internet service providers and small companies an inexpensive way to securely host Web sites.

UVNetworks Inc.s WebBox 1000 Internet server appliance combines ease of use with the Solaris platform to provide Internet service providers and small companies an inexpensive way to securely host Web sites. However, the WebBox 1000s performance wasnt quite up to par with competing Intel Corp.-based appliances in eWeek Labs tests.

The WebBox 1000 is the first Web server appliance weve seen that uses Sun Microsystems Inc. hardware and the 64-bit Solaris 8.0 operating system. UVNetworks software optimizes components in the Solaris kernel for Web services and provides a Web-based interface that makes it very simple to manage, even for users with little Unix expertise.

Designed for space-conscious data centers and hosting environments, the WebBox has a slim 1.75-inch form (42 of the units can be placed in a standard rack). The WebBox 1000 provides an extensive suite of Internet services for hosting small sites, including Web, FTP and Domain Name System.

The WebBox 1000, which shipped last month priced at $2,995, has a 500MHz UltraSPARC processor, 256MB of RAM (expandable to 2GB), two 40GB hard drives and dual on-board 10/100M-bps Ethernet ports. The WebBox leaves little room for expansions such as PCI cards and additional storage, so its scalability is limited.

The WebBox is less expensive than many Sun servers, which start at more than $3,000. On the other hand, Web server appliances based on Windows and Intel hardware, such as Dell Computer Corp.s PowerApp.Web, offer faster performance at a comparable price.

The WebBox 1000 is a more secure appliance because it runs on Solaris, which is a more secure platform than Windows. Its Apache Web server also has fewer vulnerabilities than Windows and the Internet Information Services Web server.

The WebBox 1000 is slightly less expensive than Linux-based Web appliances such as Suns Cobalt RaQ XTR, which start at $3,299. We recommend the WebBox 1000 for security-conscious sites that want to implement a Solaris Web system but lack the in-house IT expertise to do so.

The WebBox is equipped with dual 40GB hard drives with built-in software RAID support. Like most thin Web appliances on the market, the WebBox 1000 lacks hardware redundancy features such as redundant power supplies and swappable fans. Users have the option of using RAID 0, 1 or no RAID at all. We recommend using RAID 1 (mirroring) to ensure data redundancy.

In tests using Ziff Davis Media Inc.s WebBench 4.0 benchmark, which measures a servers response to Web clients, the WebBox 1000 delivered about 1,200 transactions per second in the static test suite. This is acceptable performance, but its slower than the PowerApp.Web 100 Web appliance we also tested. The PowerApp.Web 100, with 512KB of RAM and a 1GHz Pentium III processor, delivered more than 1,800 transactions per second, or 50 percent more than the WebBox 1000.

Impending hardware upgrades will move the WebBoxs performance up a notch, and the WebBox can achieve comparable performance with the same amount of memory, UVNetworks officials said. Nevertheless, we doubt the WebBox 1000 can perform as well as the newer Dell PowerApp.Web 120, which costs approximately the same as the WebBox 1000 and offers even faster Intel processors.

The WebBox 1000 is very easy to configure out of the box; initial setup took less than 15 minutes in tests. We could perform most administrative tasks via the Web user interface, which also shows system status at a glance.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at


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