Toshibas Magnia Blends Functions

Since I reviewed Toshiba's MAGNIA SG10 appliance server about 18 months ago, Toshiba has made several changes, all for the better.

Since I reviewed Toshibas MAGNIA SG10 appliance server about 18 months ago (see, Toshiba has made several changes, all for the better. The system, now called the SG20, which shipped in late June, is more powerful. It also has new business-class functionality, such as an integrated VPN, and an optional wireless server.

Although the unit looks the same as the SG10, its a different story under the hood. And when its equipped as well as my test unit was, it makes an interesting appliance, especially when coupled with Toshibas e740 Pocket PC device with built-in wireless access.

The SG20 is not meant to be a data processing machine (its powered by a Celeron 566MHz processor, with 15 to 40 4,200-rpm drives and 128MB of RAM), but it is an efficient workgroup and branch-office server. It has a seven-port switch; can perform content filtering and caching; and includes a mail server, a Web server and a packet-filtering firewall. An eighth port on the unit can be daisy-chained to another SG20 for expandability.

For larger enterprises, Toshiba offers a range of servers, from the Magnia Z310 to the Magnia 7100, a dual-processor server for small to midsize businesses.

Whats new in the SG20 device is an option for built-in wireless access via an Orinoco Wi-Fi (802.11b) card that slips into a slot in the back. The best feature is that the unit and the wireless access can be managed from a central location (even a remote location if configured).

Although the wireless access relies on WEP for security, administrators can set up additional security parameters to block unwanted access because the administration is handled through a single unit.

It took 15 minutes to set up the server, but a drive failed before I had imaged it to the backup drive. I therefore got a chance to see Toshibas tech support in action. I called the main number listed on a card and was on hold less than 10 minutes before I talked to a support engineer. Unfortunately, he directed me to another number, and I was on hold for 15 more minutes. The support engineer shipped out a drive overnight, and it worked without a hitch.

Like the SG10, the SG20 is based on Red Hat Linux (this time its 7.0). The device also features an auto-update capability that keeps the system fresh with little administrator maintenance.

The SG20 lists for $1,999 with a unit that includes the wireless access and two 40GB drives.