iXtreme 1350

A review of the iXtreme 1350.
The Software Side

iXsystems offers this model server with your choice of Windows 2000, FreeBSD 4.2 or Red Hat Linux 7.1 pre-installed. (The company's spec sheet says that the server also can come with BSD/OS and Solaris, but the on-line configurator didn't present them as options.) Guess which one we chose?

Red Hat booted up just fine on the server and connected instantly to our LAN. It had all the open-source applications and goodies included with Red Hat's 7.1 Professional Server distribution; yes, I know that 7.2 has been out for a while, but 7.1 is what iXsystems offers. The software appeared to be competently installed, and it took little time to bring up Apache and put a web site on-line. We only had the review server for two weeks, but during that time, it ran the web site fine, handling traffic (50 simulated users, sent over by Rational Software Corp.'s SiteLoad software on another) without a hiccup or even a sneeze. It's a Linux server. What more can you say?

A Good Value

Out of the box, the iXtreme 1350 represents a good value and has the secondary benefit of being from a company that truly understands the Linux/UNIX universe. As equipped, the server carried a list price of $3,319 US, according to the company. That includes 90 days of e-mail/phone support for the operating system, and three years of what the company calls standard hardware support. That means, if the server breaks, you ship it to their depot, and they'll fix it and send it back. Or, if you can identify a broken part, they'll ship a replacement out to you.

The company really socks it to you, however, if you want more OS support—increasing the OS support to three years costs another $1,400. Their charges for on-site hardware support are more reasonable and are worth getting if the server is critical to your business: $450 US for three years of next-day or $770 US for three years of same-day support. So, a system with no extra OS support, but with next-day on-site support, would cost $3,769 US.

For comparison, we looked at two similar systems, each dual-processor 1U servers with Linux, RAID controller and three-year, next-day on-site support. The Dell PowerEdge 1550, with the same hardware except for three 18GB drives (Dell no longer sells 9GB drives), came through at $4,041 US. That's nearly a wash. The Compaq ProLiant DL360, with dual 9GB drives, was an astounding $7,461.

Based on hardware, software and pricing, we're impressed with the iXtreme 1350; the company has done a nice job, and we'd have no hesitation in deploying them or recommending them to clients, once they take the cover screws out. Perhaps iXsystems will have trouble living down their BSDi heritage and making the cultural transition from being an operating-system brand to an off-the-shelf server manufacturer, but in our opinion, they're off to a fine start.

Product Information/The Good/The Bad

Alan Zeichick is a technology analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area who focuses on networking and software development. Reach him at zeichick@camdenassociates.com.