Remote users get a ray of Sun with Cobalt Qube 3

Network managers looking to support their remote branch offices via local LANs may wish to take note of Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Sun Cobalt Qube 3 Appliance – a plug-and-play networking solution that offers secure Internet and intranet services to consumers and power users.

The “complete network-in-a-box,” as the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company terms it, is an Internet/intranet server that offers telecommuters or IT professionals at remote sites secure access to a corporate network via a Windows-enabled computer. The Sun Cobalt Qube 3 server appliance can also manage remote branch offices by integrating with the Sun Cobalt Control Station, thus offering headquarter-based network managers the ability to remotely monitor appliance status, update security patches, and other software, Sun said, adding that the appliance also maps ports and redirects network traffic via the port forwarding feature.

Sun Cobalt marketing director Peder Ulander noted the solution provides accessibility to an existing general network resource by “pushing” the basic content such as Web sites, e-mail, and gateways, down to a remote site.

“So I can locally access my e-mail, locally access all of my portal services…without actually having to tie up the line. So it makes me more efficient rather than sitting around waiting for the stuff – it’s right there when I turn it on in the morning,” Ulander said.

The Qube’s design, power, and price point have appeal to nDivia Networks, said Michael Vlugt, vice-president of business development at nDivia Networks in Ottawa. As nDivia Network’s product is a peer-to-peer hybrid collaborative tool that resides on the desktop, Vlugt noted, the Qube’s hosting capabilities and ability to quickly connect LANs is beneficial.

“Also (nDivia Networks) just wasn’t able to afford to bring in a bunch of high-end Sun servers – so this ended up being a really good solution for us,” Vlugt added.

The price point makes the Sun Cobalt Qube an excellent low-cost alternative to higher-end servers, agreed Stacy Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Quandt added that the strength of the solution is the ability to integrate a range of applications for groupware, commerce, and local LANs.

The Sun Cobalt Qube 3 server appliance is available now. Pricing starts at US$1,149. Sun can be found on the Web at