IT for Small US Businesses

Business Week recommends two products for small businesses – Microsoft’s Small Business Server and EmergeCore’s IT in a Box.

Windows SBS offers corporate-style computing for little companies. It’s based on the Windows Server 2003 operating system plus high-end add-ons such as Exchange Server for e-mail and group scheduling and SharePoint for collaborative use of Microsoft Word and other Office applications. The software is a remarkable bargain: $599 for five users, compared with $999 for Server 2003 Standard Edition alone. Hardware to run it on will typically cost $1,500 or less.

EmergeCore’s IT in a Box is a simpler solution for small companies that prefer to do it themselves. The $1,395 IT-100 is a compact box not much bigger than a cable modem. It provides standard Internet e-mail that is simple but lacks the collaborative features of Exchange, plus file-sharing, network management, a firewall, and built-in wireless access. You can even run a public Web site on it, though it’s a better idea to pay a hosting company for that service, given security concerns.

The IT-100 runs on Linux, but the operating system is completely hidden from users and administrators. All interaction is through a Web browser, and normal maintenance, such as adding and deleting users, is easy. Initial setup is more difficult, so most small businesses could use some help.

SBS is a good product for a small business that wants corporate-style computing and can pay the price. IT in a Box is a solid choice for a company with enough tech smarts to handle the setup and administration, since outside help may be hard to find.

Both products are still too expensive in the Indian context.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.