Critical Links' EdgeBox Creates Ample Opportunities for Solution Providers

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

By combining the best bits of open-source software into a VOIP appliance, Critical Links brings convergence to a new milestone and creates what may be the must-have appliance for most any SMB.

Solution providers are turning to recession-resistant technologies to weather the current economic storm. Technologies such as voice over IP, security and remote access are becoming the solutions of choice to create revenue in challenging times. But there are still significant challenges ahead for those solution providers, ranging from training to product selection to identifying target markets. In other words, it’s going to take a lot more than selling a better mouse trap to succeed today and tomorrow.

For solution providers pursuing the small and midsize business market, the challenges are even greater, competition is fierce, and products are many. Critical Links has some questions for those stressed solution providers—what if there were a product that could do it all and then some, without being hard to implement, support or sell? What if there were a product that worked as well for startups as it did for established businesses? What if that same product fit both horizontal and vertical markets? And finally, what if the product could work as part of an MSP solution, or as part of a premises solution or even be a sell-and-forget solution? Would solution providers be interested? Of course, the answer here is academic, hell, yes, solution providers would be interested.

Critical Links is offering the ultimate answer to all of those questions with the EdgeBox series of appliances, which defy traditional categorization. One might call the EdgeBox an office in a box, while another might claim the EdgeBox is the perfect add-on appliance for a small business, and neither would be wrong.

So, what exactly is the EdgeBox? The answer is not that simple. The EdgeBox is a storage, security, VOIP (PBX), remote access, VPN, unified communications, hosted application appliance that can be configured to do many additional tasks, easily and quickly.

The advantages to that customizable appliance are many. First off, solution providers can highlight the VOIP PBX functionality to sell the appliance into small businesses hungry for advance PBX features as well as for saving money on phone bills. Or solution providers can sell the appliance based on its unified communications capabilities, where it can be used to replace expensive Microsoft Exchange-based solutions. The list of scenarios goes on and on, which speaks volumes about the EdgeBox appliance flexibility and adaptability to the SMB market.

Vendors such as Cisco, Adtran, 3Com and others serving the SMB VOIP market, as well as traditional PBX vendors and some VOIP service providers, should be worried.


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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