Management and More

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.

Surprisingly, all of the advanced features are easy to manage and implement—the unit’s browser-based configuration console offers simple menus with integrated wizards and context-sensitive help. In other words, installers and maintainers don’t have to be VOIP or PBX experts to make the system function as desired. The IP-PBX supports SIP protocols and many of the IP phones on the market today. What’s more, the EdgeBox fully supports a softphone, allowing users to have their PCs become their telephone. Softphone implementations also have the hooks to support video calls between extensions or remote sites.

For many, the collaboration features of the EdgeBox will be the key. 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.

Of course, connectivity is critical for the advanced features of the EdgeBox to be of any use, and Critical Links includes several features that enable and extend connectivity. First and foremost, 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. Broadband connectivity options include ADSL, 3G and cable.

The system also features DMZ capabilities, allowing certain features to be exposed to the Internet if needed. In addition, the product’s advanced routing capabilities include support for QOS, which guarantees that priority services, such as VOIP, are provided with dedicated bandwidth to prevent call quality problems. Additional connectivity options include embedded Wi-Fi support and an integrated access point controller that will support external access points.

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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