Most small businesses can't afford such luxuries as a dedicated tech guru. So when it comes to installing and using a complicated server, they're often left scratching their heads. EmergeCore is reaching out to those modest-size companies with its IT-100 system. It's easier to implement than a traditional server but offers many standard server features, such as e-mail, Web, and file-sharing capabilities, a firewall, a VPN, and an easy-to-follow management tool. It also includes other handy extras, such as an integrated wireless access point and the ability to build your own Web site. Just don't expect blazing performance from the IT-100: its 533MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor and scant 128MB of memory mean it won't take well to supporting more than a few users simultaneously.
If there's one truism about networking devices, it's that they're just not easy to install. That said, EmergeCore makes it as simple as possible to set up the IT-100. The system includes a very clear and well-written installation guide that takes you step-by-step through the process, helping you along with lots of colorful screenshots and icons--some of which look oddly like Fisher-Price Little People. Once you plug in the power cord, attach the device to your modem or router, and connect your PC to the device, the install guide instructs you to log on to the browser-based configuration tool. After adjusting a few basic settings, you'll have the IT-100 up and running; however, your job is hardly over. From there, you must tackle the 475-page instruction tome to learn how to manipulate the IT-100's ample features.
In terms of functionality, the IT-100 is a hybrid of a server and a wireless access point, offering some of the best features of both. On the server side, you can remotely manage and upgrade all the systems connected to the device and receive e-mail alerts if those systems are altered. You can also use the device as an e-mail, Web, and FTP server and protect systems on the network with the IT-100's firewall and VPN capabilities. As a wireless router, the IT-100 integrates 802.11b/g hardware and works as a DHCP server and a NAT device. In addition, the IT-100 offers a couple of nifty extras: a CRM module, which lets you create and store profiles on all your important clients, and a wizard-based WebBuilder tool, which makes it easy even for complete novices to construct a basic Web site.
Compared to most small-business servers, which resemble large, tower-style computers, the IT-100 is a runt, measuring not much more than a big hardback book. You can either lay the steel-gray device flat or set it on its edge using the handy included stand. From either angle, you have a full view of the front edge, which provides several convenient status lights indicating device activity. Though the IT-100 doesn't offer any of the typical server's expansion slots or drive bays, its back edge does include one WAN jack, for connecting your broadband modem, and four LAN jacks, for connecting the computers on your network via Ethernet cables. Inside the case, the device runs on CoreVista Web, a Linux-based operating system designed by EmergeCore. It also offers a very economical set of hardware components: a 533MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, 128MB of memory, and an 80GB hard drive. The whole package costs $1,400 (as of September 2005)--not exactly cheap, but reasonable considering the ease of use, the wireless AP, and the other extras included with the system.
EmergeCore ships the IT-100 with a one-year warranty. If and when you need service, you must first call the toll-free tech-support line (open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT). If EmergeCore's support reps can't help you by phone, they will provide you with a return-authorization number to mail in the unit. Otherwise, you can peruse the list of FAQs and the troubleshooting information on the company's support Web site.