Critical Links' EdgeBoxBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
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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’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.