March 12, 1997 6:00 PM ET

Cisco serves up 'network appliance'
By Robert Lemos

  LOS ANGELES -- Cisco Systems Inc. continues to pursue the "lowest common denominator" in network information servers with the Micro Webserver, a plug-and-play network appliance that it showcased here at Internet World.

A focal point of the San Jose, Calif., company's strategy for the Web is to simplify network hardware and services to the "network appliance" level. The Micro Webserver is a box the size of a large modem that can be plugged into the network and set up in minutes, ready to serve as an information kiosk, document server for local networks or a simple Web server for the Internet, company officials said.

"The primary mission of this product is to serve up Web pages," said Kevin Cheek, Cisco Internet product marketing manager.

Armed with an Iomega Corp. Zip drive and an HTTP 1.1 server in flash memory, the small component can serve up over 100MB of data at speeds exceeding 2MB per second.

Both storage and functionality can be upgraded in the future-storage through chaining up to six CD-ROMs or other storage media to the supplied SCSI port, and functionality through reflashing the HTTP kernel in ROM.

Cisco has also concentrated its efforts on easing management of Web-based resources. The Micro Webserver can be directly connected to a PC for fast updating of Web documents, and comes with myriad utilities for creating, transferring and updating stored documents. User access options and advanced document management features are also available, officials said.

By tracking updates to TFTP files and syslog directories, the HTTP appliance can be also used to back up the network's administrative information. Initially seen as the primary use of the Micro Webserver, Cisco now is pushing this as an additional feature of the network appliance.

The Micro Webserver, with a list price of less than $1,000, is intended for entry-level enterprise and Internet users. For PC Week Labs' review of the Micro Webserver, see "Cisco's Web server is small in more ways than one."

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