Buy Net access, get a free server
April 16, 1999
by Jeff Partyka
(IDG) -- Companies offering "free" PCs have attracted a lot of recent attention, but Encanto Networks is taking the idea one step further: to the server.
The company is offering a free Web server with every two-year InstantConnect Internet connection service contract, which costs $69.95 per month. The deal is scheduled to be available June 1 and is aimed at small businesses.
"The biggest barriers for small businesses that want to have a server have been cost and complexity," says Tom Blaisdell, Encanto's marketing communications director. "We think you don't solve small businesses' problems unless you solve both."
Encanto says the offer is for a limited time, but Blaisdell said the company is not likely to rescind the deal in short order.
"We're testing out the business model, and we'll see how it goes," he said. "But it's a model we think we can live with long-term."
A $1495 system
Encanto's "free" server is the e.go 210, priced at $1495 without the connection service, and part of Encanto's e.go series for small businesses. It comes with Web- and store-builder software, as well as complete HTTP, FTP, DNS, DHCP and SMTP/POP3 e-mail functions (with virtually unlimited e-mail accounts). The package has enough memory to accommodate 25,000 Web pages or more than 3000 catalog entries; a four-port Ethernet hub; a 56-kbps modem; and a secure-payment engine for e-commerce.
Usually, customers must face not only the price of the server, but also the potentially high connection expenses. The Encanto deal solves the cost and complexity problems faced by small businesses, Blaisdell says.
"With our connection cost of $69.95, it's very important to compare that to the normal cost of connecting a server to the Net," Blaisdell said. "With a dedicated line up 24/7, that can range from $600 to $1000 per month, including large set-up fees in front of that."
The package built around the e.go server is sufficient for a small business to run its own Web server, Blaisdell says.
"Getting the server, setting up Windows NT or something else, [plus] all the other end packages to create a Web site, set up e-commerce, e-mail, and all those things represent a barrier for small businesses," he says. Encanto has integrated all the elements to set up a local network, e-mail for the office, and a Web site with catalog and e-commerce functions.
Speed via caching
The InstantConnect technology lets e.go servers work over standard telephone lines, combining intelligent caching with two-way dial-on-demand.
"We are the DNS resolver for all e.go servers," Blaisdell says. "When a request comes in for a URL, we've already cached most of the common pages from that Web site. We serve those out of cache, and place a call out to e.go--it rings twice and hangs up. That wakes up e.go, which calls its local POP, and then it can take over the session. So your e.go is only connected when someone's surfing in and surfing out. That's why we can charge such a reduced fee."
How much should you pay for a free PC?
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