Back in April EmergeCore introduced its first "IT in a Box" product designed specifically for small businesses with little or no IT staff. The all-in-one device allows small business to set up a virtual private networking (VPN) system in a small office, host a website or serve up e-mail. This week, Boise, Idaho-based EmergeCore Networks brings e-commerce to its mix of small business computing solutions along with a host of features that make it easy to build a wired or wireless network.
The IT-100 now allows small businesses to quickly and securely sell products and services over the Internet. Expected to top $12 trillion worldwide by 2006, e-commerce transactions have historically been enabled by complex, costly solutions involving multiple vendors and multiple components. The IT-100 now allows small businesses to compete squarely against much larger organizations with a secure, professional e-commerce presence.
"Establishing an online presence versus a traditional brick and mortar business allows a company to quickly reach a much larger market, and at a lower cost then the traditional brick and mortar model," said Dave Brown, EmergeCore president and CEO. "With the IT-100 a small business can now compete effectively in the global market against more complex, multi-component e-commerce solutions."
Frank J. Bernhard, technology economist and managing principal with OMNI Consulting Group, an economic advisory and assurance research firm in Davis, Calif., said now nearly any small business can go digital.
"Clearly, the transaction cost economics for most small and medium business enterprises dictate the necessity to move goods and services to a Web commerce platform and essentially lower the operational burden associated with selling to customers," Bernhard said. "EmergeCore's IT-100 solution embodies the achievement of reduced technical complexity coupled with a rapid Web delivery presence for launching virtually any business into the digital commerce marketplace."
E-Commerce for Small Business
Now available through solution providers in the U.S., the e-commerce enhanced IT-100 offers a manageable, yet flexible server-based solution for small office or home office environments. The IT-100 can be quickly set up and managed at the business' location without the expense of outside hosting services. New functionality found in the IT-100 empowers small businesses to offer customers:
- Graphic rich online catalogues
- Online shopping cart
- In-stock inventory checking
- Order tracking for timely product delivery
- Customized shipping profiles and automatic shipping cost calculator
Also new to the "IT in a Box" feature set is secure credit card payment system enabled by PayPal. PayPal, an eBay company, enables any business or consumer with an e-mail address to send and receive Internet payments securely, conveniently and cost-effectively over the Internet. PayPal's network builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards to create a global payment system. It has more than 23 million member accounts and is available to users in 38 countries including the U.S., so tapping into the PayPal community could deliver a lot of prospects to a small business e-commerce startup.
Currently shipping, the IT-100 combines 20 gigabytes of storage with a router, a four-port switch, a firewall, a wireless access point, an file transfer protocol (FTP server, multiple domain support, an e-mail server and VPN services in a single device that costs $1,395.
In addition the low price point, the IT-100 reduces the need for full-time IT support. Even a non-technical person can set up and manage the IT-100 through the CoreVista Web browser interface. There's no software installation required. With WEB Site Builder on-board, the IT-100 is one of the few network devices that allow users to quickly and easily design and build their own websites with no need to perform an FTP upload.
The graphical user interface (GUI) of the CoreVista software Windows-like, so it's simple enough to manage that even a non-technical staff member could set up the network in minutes. The resulting network can support PCs, Macintosh workstations, and Unix machines basically any device with an Ethernet connection or wireless access point, including laptops, Tablet PCs and PDAs.
With the built in wireless local area network (WLAN) access point, a small business can save the expensive task of wiring an office. With the built in VPN Server, a small business has the ability to remotely and securely connect to the office network, and multiple remote offices can securely connect to the head office. An office staff member can easily handle all of the setup functions of the IT-100, or if they choose, they can administer the unit through a local Internet service provider, competitive local exchange carrier, consultant or reseller. The IT-100 design is particularly appealing to the small business with limited office space, little technical know-how, and a tight IT budget.
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