- Self-configuring and optimising Nitix OS
- antivirus, spam and content filtering
- ExchangeIt! groupware application
- Per user licensing
Given its name, you expect the Net Integrator Micro to be small, and it really is tiny -- but only in terms of physical size. Hosting the vendor’s own Linux-based Nitix operating system it’s big on functionality, bristling with all the features expected of a small business server appliance -- and then some.
The hardware is surprisingly well specified given the size of the box, with a Via C3 Eden processor, 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard disk, plus three 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports. These allow for both direct LAN and gateway configuration, the Nitix software automatically working out what you’ve got and configuring itself to suit.
Described as 'autonomic', the Nitix software not only configures itself, it can also optimise the firewall and manage the built-in DHCP and DNS servers automatically. Plus it’s self-healing, with a robust journaling file system and intelligent backup and disaster recovery facilities included as part of the package. Of course, we’ve heard similar claims before, but the autonomic Nitix software really does look after itself most of the time, taking a lot of the stress out of deploying and managing a network.
In terms of applications there’s port forwarding, a firewall and a VPN server (TunnelVision) for secure remote access, although client software isn’t included. VNC-based remote user management facilities are provided along with Samba for Windows and Apple file sharing, with optional domain server functionality, if required. There’s also a Web server, FTP server, Web caching and a MySQL database engine -- plus, of course, an SMTP mail server.
The mail server is particularly well specified, with a browser-based email client as well as POP3 and IMAP4 support. Groupware facilities are available through the browser client, and the Net Integrator Micro ships with an application called ExchangeIt! to provide shared address books, calendars and other Exchange-like groupware functionality for users of Microsoft Outlook and Ximian Evolution.
Gateway security is another plus, with anti-spam and content filtering provided as standard on the Net Integrator Micro. In addition, fully supported antivirus protection is available as an option at around £9 (ex. VAT) per user/year.
Unlike most Linux-based products, licensing is on a per-user basis -- the Net Integrator Micro is initially licensed for just five users. However, the hardware can easily manage double that, and more powerful Net Integrator appliances are also available. Moreover, at around £48 (ex. VAT) per user, including the ExchangeIt! application, extra licences won’t break the bank. Given the functionality it provides, the Net Integrator Micro is great value for money.