NetMax sweetens open-source networking

The open-source software movement has produced many excellent products,

but integration and centralized administration has been a problem.

Cybernet Systems Corp.'s NetMax Professional Suite helps out by bundling

many fine open-source products in a complete network solution that will

work equally well as a workgroup-type file server or as a full-featured

enterprise Internet server.

NetMax professional suite walks the administrator through many of the

pesky details of configuring IP and disk information as well as other system

issues that cause headaches for non-Unix administrators trying to harness

the power of Linux for the first time.

Starting with a bootable CD, NetMax Professional Suite offers multiple

configuration options for the administrator, depending on the initial configuration

of the target server, the availability of clients on the network and the

level of handholding the administrator desires.

I chose to do a browser-based installation, which requires that another

machine be set up on the same network as NetMax. I was a little disappointed

that I couldn't do this on the NetMax console. Having to switch to another

machine adds unneeded complexity to the installation process, especially

if you intend to use NetMax as the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

server for your client network.

NetMax Professional Suite combines many of Cybernet Systems' networking

products in one suite. It includes a Domain Name System server, a DHCP server,

a firewall, a Web proxy and cache, the Apache Web server, Secure Sockets

Layer support, sendmail, a File Transfer Protocol server, a news server,

client and server backups, and file and print sharing for Windows, Macintosh

and Unix systems.

With all of the included functionality, a NetMax system could easily

be the complete Internet gateway and file and print server for a small agency.

Having all of these features in one centrally managed system can increase

the security and ease the management of key Internet services.

Of course, this also creates one point of failure for the entire network,

so uses should employ some kind of fault-tolerant strategy. By including

Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) support as well as automated

backup support, the NetMax suite helps the administrator ensure a reliable

system.

I liked NetMax's browser-based administration, which provides a consistent,

easy-to-navigate interface for managing the functionality in the Professional

Suite. I was able to quickly configure the DHCP service and bring up clients

on the network. The support for Windows, Macintosh and Unix file and print

services will ease the burden of supporting multiple-client operating systems.

Because NetMax uses open-source software as the core of its solution,

administrators familiar with these tools will be comfortable implementing

them on NetMax. The only difference is the NetMax administrative tool, which

even seasoned command-line administrators will find makes some tasks more

efficient.

I found NetMax to be a valuable solution as an Internet gateway for

remote offices, as a file and print solution for medium-to-large workgroups

and offices, and as an Internet server that packs the performance punch

of the impressive Unix/Apache Web server platform.

If you're looking for a solution for one or all of those situations,

check out the NetMax Professional Suite. For single solutions, check out

Cybernet's other NetMax products, which offer point solutions at competitive

prices.

Eric Hammond is a Denver-based freelance writer and a technical director

at L7, a Denver-based company that specializes in building IT infrastructure.

REPORT CARD

NetMax Professional Suite

Score: B+

Cybernet Systems Corp.

(800) 292-3763

www.netmax.com

Price and Availability: $549 (Linux version); $499 (FreeBSD version).

Remarks: NetMax Professional Suite provides a complete networking solutionin one package that's easy to install and maintain. The NetMax ProfessionalSuite is a complete system based on the open-source operating systems Linuxand FreeBSD. Users can integrate and centrally manage numerous network servicesthrough a browser-based interface.

BY Eric Hammond
October 25, 2000

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