Windows Powered appliances take advantage of the Windows management experience inherent in three organizations: yours, Microsoft's, and the OEM's. Just as you would on a Windows 2000 Server system, you can apply appropriate hotfixes and patches, enforce disk quotas, send email alerts, and perform system backups on a Windows Powered appliance. You can also install third-party utilities that enhance such Windows functionality as antivirus, network backup-agent, disk-management, and file-replication capabilities. The number of companies working with Microsoft to provide solutions tailored to the Windows Powered platform is growing.

Snapshot technology licensed from Columbia Data Products is available in the Microsoft Server Appliance Kit (SAK) so that any Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) system can provide the powerful data protection afforded by snapshots—at a fraction of the price that non-Windows NAS systems demand. Role-Based User Interface (RBUI) lets you granularly administer Web servers in ISP and application service provider (ASP) environments, and Multiple Device Manager (MDM) lets you centrally manage multiple Windows Powered appliances. You can also leverage your existing Windows management infrastructure—whether you have a Microsoft solution such as Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and Systems Management Server (SMS) or a third-party solution such as Computer Associates' (CA's) Unicenter or Hewlett-Packard's HP OpenView—to manage Windows Powered appliances.

If you decide to purchase a Windows Powered appliance, try comparing the procurement and implementation costs of your chosen solution with those of a general-purpose server to discover your solution's "hidden treasure" value. As an example, Dell has performed a series of same-hardware comparisons that expose the savings inherent in a Windows Powered appliance approach. Configured for a 250-user environment, a PowerVault 750N costs $7334 less than its PowerEdge 2500 counterpart. In a Web server comparison, the PowerEdge 1650 costs $2896 less than the same hardware model with the full Win2K Advanced Server OS. In both cases, the traditional server ran Win2K AS with 25 Client Access Licenses (CALs). An additional 225 seat licenses were specified in the PowerVault 750N comparison, as well as licenses for Services for UNIX (SFU) and Services for Novell.

By now, you see that the hidden treasure of a Windows Powered appliance is that no CALs are required to access an appliance. Depending on the number of users you support, that treasure can be pretty valuable. Add these savings to the time and effort you'll save during implementation, and a Windows Powered appliance becomes quite attractive.