Configuring a CD-ROM server with towers on a network can be a very frustrating experience, but a new generation of products promises to change all of that. They are designed to connect to a network, to be turned on, and then to configure themselves without intervention.
One of the new models-highest rated by InfoWorld, a trade tabloid which regularly publishes product reviews by independent contractors-is the Boffin Multiplatform CD-ROM Tower. The basic model is a SCSI tower with seven drives and an Axis StorPoint CD-ROM controller. All necessary software is included for connecting the server to an Ethernet or Token Ring network, and all configuration work is done on the tower itself. It is this ease of installation that led to the high rating. Once set up, the CD-ROMs are accessible from NetWare clients, Windows networking clients, and Netscape and Internet Explorer clients. When configured with a seven-drive tower with 16x NEC drives, the price is $3,132. A 14-drive option also is available.
The most recent entrant is Micro Design International's CD-Express Connect, a CD-ROM tower that can hold up to 14 drives. The tower has an onboard 32-bit RISC processor and 32MB cache for fast access. MDI ships the product with its l2x drives. The CD-Express Connect currently supports 10BaseT Ethernet and Token Ring, but will shortly support 10/100BaseT for use in a Fast Ethernet environment. The device automatically configures itself as a CD-server when installed on a network and works independently of existing file servers. The product comes with utility software that lets users manage CDs and assign access privileges. The base price is $3,995 for a seven-drive model and $7,199 for a 14-drive model.
[Contact: Boffin Ltd., telephone 800-248- 5328, FAX 612-894-6175; Micro Design International, telephone 1-800-920-8205]