IT in a box: the ClearBOX

As a full time systems administrator, I can tell you without equivocation that IT is hard. There are lots of little problems that occur. Operating systems are fragile. Automation is great, but requires constant vigilance. So I approach things like the ClearBOX with much skepticism. An all-in-one IT solution sounds too good to be true, and it very likely is. I’m sure it offers some great features, and in the right environment it can be a good purchase. But there is no holy grail to unified IT services, because every environment is different, and the only constant is change.

The hardware specs on the ClearBOX look adequate enough for most small businesses with simple IT needs:

  • System Restore (In Development)
  • Bypass 2 LED Indicator
  • Bypass 1 LED Indicator
  • G2 Bypass Segment 1 with 2 1Gb Ethernet Ports
  • G2 Bypass Segment 2 with 2 1Gb Ethernet Ports
  • 2 1Gb Ethernet Ports
  • Dual USB 2.0 Ports
  • RJ45 System Console connector
  • Hard Drive Active LED
  • Power LED
  • Reset Button
  • 128×32 Graphic LCD Module
  • 4 button LCD Module Control
  • 200W Full-range ATX
  • On/Off Switch
  • Intelligent Cooling System
  • VGA Port – Intel 82G41 Chipset
  • One PCI-E x8 Expansion Slot Rear

The ClearBOX comes with ClearOS, “a powerful network and server gateway designed for small organizations and distributed environments.” It’s open source, so I’m guessing it’s a Linux distribution of some sort, but it’s not clear to me whether they’ve rolled their own distro from the ground up, or if they’re springboarding off an existing distribution.

The ClearBOX and ClearOS look like a neat offering, but I’ve seen way too many of these all-in-one “IT in a box” systems come and go through the years to have any expectations that this one will last.