Vendors are adopting Windows 2000 with the Server Appliance Kit (SAK) because it lets them bring mature devices to market quickly; use skills such as Visual Basic (VB) and Visual C++ (VC++), which many of their developers have; and work with OS modules that their developers are familiar with. Several vendors have released Web or Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliances based on Win2K.

Dell has the PowerApp.web 120 Web appliance and the PowerVault 750N NAS appliance. The PowerApp.web 120 is a 1U (1.75") stackable dual-processor system that Dell can currently configure with two 1GHz Pentium III processors, 2GB of RAM, and three small hot-swappable SCSI hard disks. The system comes with two 10/100 Ethernet ports and USB, video, and keyboard ports on front and back; the default configuration costs $2938. Dell says the PowerApp.web 120 supports as many as 500 simultaneous connections. Wizards let you configure Network Load Balancing (NLB) for as many as 32 Web servers per cluster. The PowerApp.web 120 includes the PowerApp Kick-Start software program (for local and remote node discovery and configuration) and the PowerApp.web Admin Tool (for browser-based administration). Dell plans to add mail services and WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) in a future release. The PowerApp.web 120 is a rebranded system from Sun Cobalt (Sun Microsystems' Server Appliance Business Unit, formerly Cobalt Networks).

The PowerVault 750N NAS appliance comes with two SCSI drives and a 160GB connection. The PowerVault 750N can address as much as 2TB of storage when connected to additional storage enclosures. The 750N can use Win2K's HTTP support to serve HTML files to the Web, so you can store or cache Web files on the appliance. The 750N has an entry price of $10,031.

The TaskSmart N2400 is Compaq's first Win2K NAS offering. This appliance is based on a specially tuned dual-processor ProLiant DL380 rack-mount server unit with two hot-swappable SCSI drives used for the OS. You can attach the DL380 to as many as four StorageWorks disk enclosures, which provide 2TB of storage when equipped with 36GB drives. You can configure the TaskSmart N2400 with Gigabit Ethernet, a four-port 10/100 Ethernet card, and a Remote Insight management card. The system comes with redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans, and Compaq supports the Trend Micro, Symantec, or Network Associates Technology antivirus package. Compaq was the first vendor to announce clustering technology for its TaskSmart N-Series NAS appliances, with access to more than 10TB of storage through connected storage arrays. Compaq offers the TaskSmart N-Series Cluster for $175,000 for a 144GB configuration through its resellers or its DirectPlus program.

The IBM xSeries includes a line of server appliances for both the Web server and Web caching markets. IBM offers Win2K or Linux on a rack-mountable 1U (1.75") Web server system for $3995 or $4295, respectively. The Win2K system is more expensive because it includes IBM's caching software and other Windows enterprise features such as Active Directory (AD) support. IBM offers a 216GB tower NAS appliance for about $11,000 and a 1.7TB rack-mountable version for about $35,000. IBM plans to add server appliances for email, network-security firewalls, and load balancing.

Using its ATA hard disk technology, Maxtor has released a NAS file server that offers twice the performance of previous generations of MaxAttach file servers at a cost of about 2 cents per megabyte. The MaxAttach NAS 4100 is available in 160GB ($3299) and 320GB ($4999) configurations from resellers such as Bell Microproducts, Ingram Micro, and Tech Data. This Win2K-based appliance comes with Gigabit Ethernet, a SCSI port for local backup to tape drives and libraries, and dual 10/100 Ethernet support for LAN attachment.

Expect to see many more vendors release appliance products based on Win2K with the SAK in the near future. For example, NEC, one of Microsoft's original OEM partners, is releasing a NAS line called the NEC Express5800/Storage Server series. StorLogic's StorCom.e NAS appliance is based on Windows NT Embedded 4.0 rather than Win2K with the SAK.