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These Products, Services Look Like Winners In 2006

In the coming year, solution providers will have a mounting number of vendor offerings to choose from in network-attached storage and all-in-one security appliances, mobile and wireless technologies and hosted VoIP and managed service offerings.

The CRN Test Center took a look at the current crop of vendor offerings in each of these five “hot topic” areas for small business in 2006 and picked its favorite product and service offerings.

1. Network-Attached Storage

Small-business owners are finding that storage is getting to be like money-one never can have enough. Driven by backup needs, legislative requirements and the increasing size of media files, adding storage capacity is becoming the top priority for small businesses.

Buffalo Technology has heard the call of the channel and has risen to meet the need for storage. Its Terabyte Network Attached Storage appliance offers businesses plug-and-play disk capacity from 600 Gbytes to 1.6 terabytes in a convenient toaster-sized network attached device. The unit offers RAID capabilities for redundancy and supports Gigabit Ethernet to maximize throughput. Also, the unit includes USB ports to add additional storage or even share a USB printer on the network.

Solution providers looking for an end to the storage dilemma will find Buffalo a valuable ally in the diminishing-disk-space challenge.

2. Security Simplification

It is increasingly common for small businesses to become the victims of security vulnerabilities. Whether its damage from worms, viruses or scams, the cost of recovery can be both expensive and laborious. As a result, in the small business market security is proving the old axiom: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

All-in-one security appliances are helping to provide complete network security without the typical management overhead. A case in point is Esoft’s most recent product offering, the ThreatWall 300 Content Security, which is an adaptable appliance that can handle almost any threat and can keep proprietary information under tight lock and key.

The unit can be configured by solution providers to handle a range of security services including antispam, antivirus, intrusion prevention, antispyware, content filtering and other critical security services. Solution providers will love the mix and match approach of the services that they can provide to their customers, and end users will love the hands-off simplicity offered by the Threatwall 300.

3. Mobile And Wireless Technology

In the quest for better customer communications, small businesses are always seeking the latest technology to offer personalized service to set them apart from competing giants. Workers on the go have found wireless e-mail, IM and voice communications to be a boon when servicing customers.

With the evolution of wireless broadband connectivity, RIM’s BlackBerry 8700c is destined to bring high-speed communications to the mobile worker as it builds on the functionality that made the original BlackBerry so popular, but adds increased performance of a quad-band GPRS/GSM network as well as the new EDGE data network protocol. The new EDGE-enabled BlackBerry 8700c is available through Cingular with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate; monthly plans are based on data and voice requirements.

4. Hosted VoIP

Small businesses normally have a keen eye for reducing costs-especially when it comes to phone service. The combination of Voice Over IP (VoIP) technology and inexpensive broadband connections has created an environment where solution providers can promise significant savings, yet still increase services and features. GotVmail fits the bill with its hosted VoIP PBX.

GotVmail offers all of the benefits of a high-end PBX, but reduces costs to an affordable monthly fee.

Small businesses will benefit from GotVmail’s ability to make them look like a bigger player with all of the features found on an enterprise PBX, while solution providers partnering with GotVmail can garner an ongoing revenue stream from the monthly service fees.

Businesses needing voice mail, automated attendants and many more PBX features will be well served by GotVmail’s virtual PBX technology.

5. Managed Services

The costs associated with hurricanes, earthquakes, Tsunamis, wild fires and mud slides may never be determined-but one thing is certain: businesses are now paying closer attention to disaster recovery efforts.

One way solution providers can address that need is with a managed service provider such as Evault. Evault offers an online service that guarantees to backup and securely store critical files in a disaster-proof environment. Solution providers can partner with Evault to offer a branded or private-labeled version of automated on-line backup. The product’s monthly fees are based upon capacity needed, and that capacity can be fine tuned to meet both cost and storage needs.