A Closer Look at the EdgeBox

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.

Critical Links describes the EdgeBox as a multiservice business gateway appliance, which provides a full-fledged VOIP/IP-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, and easy to maintain and upgrade, and can be managed remotely.

Critical Links offers three versions of the EdgeBox, an EdgeBox Office appliance that supports up to 40 users, an EdgeBox Business appliance that supports up to 100 users and the EdgeBox Enterprise appliance, which supports as many as 300 users. In regard to functionality, the three appliances are the same, to the extent that moving from one appliance to another takes little more than copying all of the data and settings across.

The EdgeBox does so many things so well that it is difficult to pick what the most important features are and what feature set a solution provider should lead with when selling the unit.

Arguably, the lead feature is the IP-PBX, which is based on open-source software and supports a variety of VOIP providers. The EdgeBox covers most, if not all, the telephony features a small business needs. The system features call conferencing capabilities, call parking and forwarding, IVR (interactive voice response), LCR (least cost routing), ACD (automatic call distribution) 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 that clearly place the EdgeBox into the realm of a fully fledged unified communications server.

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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