Critical Links' EdgeBox

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

New products from Allworx, Critical Links and Sutus make easy work of delivering enterprise-class VOIP/PBX capabilities to small businesses. These vendors are delivering more than just voice services, giving solution providers valuable systems that enhance network services and provide ongoing support opportunities.

Critical Links describes the EdgeBox as a multiservice business gateway appliance, which provides a full-fledged VOIP/PBX and a host of data and IT services in a single device.

The EdgeBox replaces up to eight specialized solutions with a single integrated device, providing SMB customers with a complete networking infrastructure that is simple to install and configure, easy to maintain and upgrade, and provides remote management.

The EdgeBox Office appliance supports up to 40 users. The EdgeBox does so many things so well, it’s difficult to pick what the most important features are and what feature set a solution provider should lead with during a sales call.

Arguably, the EdgeBox’s lead feature is the IP-PBX, which is based on open-source software and supports a variety of VOIP trunking providers. The EdgeBox covers most if not all the telephony features a small business needs. The system features call conferencing, call parking and forwarding, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Least Cost Routing (LCR), Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and fallback to PSTN. A recent upgrade to the PBX software adds follow me/find me, call twinning, direct inward access, e-mail push, voice mail transcription, PDA synchronization, remote worker access, Fax2Mail and a host of other features.

The EdgeBox’s browser-based configuration console offers simple menus with integrated wizards and context-sensitive help. Installers and maintainers don’t have to be VOIP or PBX experts to set up the EdgeBox. The unit incorporates a full collaboration suite that includes e-mail (POP, IMAP, Webmail) and groupware (calendar, tasks, contacts) and can be further extended with vertical market "edgePACKs," which are optional productivity applications that include CMS (content management system), LMS (learning management system) and other applications.

The collaboration features are fully integrated, meaning that any user accounts created on the unit are automatically shared across all of the applications.

The EdgeBox can act as an access router, managing the traffic between the LAN and the WAN. The routing functionality includes all of the basic network access services, such as DHCP, NAT, DNS and VLAN. Additional connectivity options include embedded Wi-Fi support and an integrated access point controller that will support external access points.

The unit includes a full suite of security products, including a stateful inspection firewall. Solution providers will find complete implementations of VPN for remote user access (L2TP, PPTP), site-to-site (IPSec), anti-spam, anti-virus (based on ClamAV, McAfee and Sophos) and content filtering.

The EdgeBox also features network-attached storage (NAS) and printer server. The system provides scalable storage capacity and redundant disks (RAID) for critical business data and allows the sharing of Microsoft Windows files, setting disk quotas and configuring automatic backup to a remote server or an external USB disk drive. The print server works with most USB printers and allows users running Windows to quickly share a printer.

The management console is fully Web-based and allows the configuration of all aspects of the system by non-IT experts. Processes such as adding new users/hires are fully integrated, meaning that a vast array of settings (e-mail, phone extension, Wi-Fi credentials, VPN settings, file server area with quotas and backup setting, etc.) can be completed in just a few minutes with the EdgeBox Management interface.

The EdgeBox starts at $2,500 and increases in price depending on the number of supported seats. Solution providers can expect healthy margins on the hardware and software, and can garner revenue from the installation and support services. The failover option can add recurring revenue for solution providers hosting virtual EdgeBoxes, while remote management fits keenly into the MSP model. Solution providers looking to build opportunity in the SMB market will be well-served by the EdgeBox product line.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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