End the need for CD-ROM swapping

Are you tired of constantly swapping CD-ROMs in your CD-ROM drive? Is your company spending money on multiple copies of CD-ROMs, rather than making one CD-ROM available on a CD-ROM server? If these scenarios sound familiar, you need the Instant CD Server from Boffin.

Instant CD Server is a network-enabled, Plug and Play (PnP) CD-ROM tower that lets you share CD-ROMs over your network. The unit operates independently of your network file servers and gives you fast, direct access to a central CD-ROM archive, using software you're already familiar with.

Instant CD Server is available in several configurations: a 7-CD-ROM version; a 14-CD-ROM version; and for an enterprise environment, a 28-CD-ROM version. You can configure Instant CD Server with 16X or 32X CD-ROM drives. The unit supports single- or dual-channel Ethernet or Token Ring StorPoints for connecting to your network. You can buy Instant CD Server units in standard or hot-swappable configurations. A hot-swappable configuration lets you swap out a bad drive in the event of a failure.

Instant CD Server works in NetWare environments using NetWare Core Protocol (NCP) over IPX. The unit shows up as a NetWare file server, and users mount drives using standard NetWare tools. For Windows and OS/2 environments, the unit supports Server Message Block (SMB) over TCP/IP, NetBIOS, and NetBEUI. The unit appears as a Windows NT server, and you mount drives using Windows Explorer. Even UNIX users can use Instant CD Server: Administrators (or privileged users) use NFS and standard UNIX commands to mount CD-ROMs. In NetWare, Windows, and OS/2 environments, you can mount all drives so they appear as one drive letter.

To test Instant CD Server, I connected a 7-CD-ROM unit to my local Ethernet network via a 10Base-T connection. I installed a CD-ROM in each drive. Several drives had application software CD-ROMs (e.g., street maps for a Geographic Information System, phone book directories for reference), whereas others had my Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) library and TechNet CD-ROMs for quick referral on system problems. The Boffin units are great when you need to create a library of software in a central CD-ROM storage facility.

After I installed the Instant CD Server on my network, I had to assign it an IP address. On the back of the unit is a 12-digit hexadecimal number representing the media access control (MAC) number of the network interface in the unit. The MAC number is a unique value that the card's manufacturer assigns to every network card. After I obtained this number, I had to issue an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) command to physically assign an IP address to the CD-ROM server. The unit was then ready to use.

It took less than 5 minutes to set up the unit--from opening the shipping box to mounting my first CD-ROM. Accessing the unit from NT is simple. The Instant CD Server appears in the Network Neighborhood under WorkGroup. The server's name is AXIS, followed by the last six digits of the serial number. You navigate through the Network Neighborhood to access each CD-ROM in the unit. To mount the drives, you can use the Map Network Drive feature from the My Computer icon or issue a NET USE command. You must know the server's name to mount the drives.

The base retail price for Instant CD Server includes the 7-drive version with 16X CD-ROMs and a 100Base-TX network adapter. The price is higher for options such as the 32X CD-ROMs, 32MB cache, or hot-swappable configuration. Although the server is slightly more expensive than an external SCSI CD-ROM tower that you populate yourself, the Instant CD Server gives you options that function out of the box. This convenience makes the unit well worth the investment.

Instant CD Server
Contact: Boffin * 612-894-0595 or 800-248-5328
Web: http://www.boffin.com
Price: Starts at $2357
System Requirements: Network plug