Intel has introduced a so-called 'network in a box' to help small businesses connect their offices and hook up to the internet.
The chip giant's Inbusiness Small Office Network, which was jointly developed with Microsoft, is based on its Celeron processor and Windows NT for xpress Networks. The two companies claim it can be installed in about one hour.
The product provides file sharing, print sharing and internet access to small offices of up to 25 people.
Kirt Bailey, Intel's product manager for small business networking, said: "You can think of it as a network in a box. You can take it out of the box and plug PCs into it."
Intel is introducing two versions of the offering aimed at resellers and ISPs. The Plus version will be based on a 466MHz Celeron chip and come with 64Mb of RAM a 13Gb main hard drive, and a second 13Gb drive for back up. It will also provide data mirroring and a digital subscriber line or ISDN option later this year.
The cheaper version is based on a slower 366MHz Celeron processor and has only one hard drive. The products will ship in Europe during the second quarter.
Vince Mendillo, Microsoft's lead product manager for Windows NT Embedded Edition, said: "We are seeing the need from our customer base for more networking solutions."
He said the product's software includes a proxy for firewall protection and some of the functionality provided by the newly launched Windows 2000 operating system.
"By including fault tolerance and disk mirroring capabilities, the new server appliance operating system also provides the high reliability and low maintenance of an appliance," he said.
According to researcher Access Media International, the number of small businesses installing Lans grew by 50 per cent for the year ending March 1999.
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