Axentra Multifunction Server Appliances

I last wrote about Axentra when they had changed their name from OEOne back in October 2003. Marc Benglia, the CEO of Axentra, came by and left a comment on that post, so I went and checked out their new products.

Marc had specifically pointed out their Net-Box Home Series, which are two server appliances targetted at home network use. The entry level model is $499US -- much too expensive in my opinion, but I still understand the lure of having a full-featured server on your own network.

I'm in the process of getting rid of my local Linux server. Obviously I'm not the target market for these products, nor is anyone that can build their own server. But I think that Axentra is going to have trouble explaining the benefits -- and making it easy enough -- for the average end user.

For example, sharing pictures. This was the main driver for running my own server initially. I have a handful of hosting accounts, and even a dedicated server, but all of them have limited storage space. So, running a local server, where I can run a huge amount of storage (digital pictures at 500KB - 1MB a piece start to add up pretty quickly). But now there's Flickr. For a measly $5US/month, I get unlimited storage -- limited only by the 1GB of uploads per month. It has many more features than my local gallery, with more being added every day. And it's housed on super-redundant servers, so I don't have to worry about making offsite backups. For $5US/month, that's 100 months of the service before I've made up the cost of the Net-Box.

The big thing I could see myself using one of Axentra's servers for is backup. I'd love to see a server whose main function was really good backup. Scoble linked to a Buffalo Technologies product a while back that seemed to offer that -- and it's $300US for a 160GB model, with the capability of adding external USB 2.0 drives as well.

My message to Axentra is to focus: focus on a small set of features. Yes, Linux-based hardware can do a lot of things, but the only way to differentiate yourself if you do something differently from other products.

Perhaps their Office series is a better bet. The consumer market is still a tough one. Of course, lots of competition in the office space as well -- I still like the Net Integrator Servers.