IBM Unveils Hardware, Software Bundles for Small Businesses
BY Peter Hoy
A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help your business.
IBM is pushing into a new market with a line of IT infrastructure packages designed specifically for small and midsize businesses.
Available for purchase through a catalog, these standardized product bundles will include hardware, software, and technical assistance, but be less expensive and less labor-intensive than anything previously offered by IBM.
Integrated Communications Services, as IBM calls them, mark a shift in strategy for the company, which has traditionally passed over small businesses and focused instead on companies with the financial resources to purchase full customized IT systems.
The first, introduced Tuesday, is a data, voice and video communications network. Over the next two months, IBM plans to roll out 30 more packages, covering everything from computer networks to digital video surveillance.
How to Find that Missing E-mail
To help smaller companies track their electronic communications, Lighthouse Global Technologies on Sept. 13 announced a slimmed down version of its flagship product, the E-Trail Digital Archive.
Specially designed, and priced, for companies with 50 or fewer employees, the new Archive Lite captures e-mails, instant messages, and faxes, and manages them with an array of filters that are not available in standard e-mail programs.
The $1,800 price tag reflects a recognition that many small businesses need professionally built archives, but cannot spend as much as a larger firm to keep track of its electronic communications.
E-mail retention, archiving, and retrieval at this level is mainly for regulatory or litigation purposes. And while not exactly cheap to establish, a budgeted $1,800 may be easier to absorb than unexpected penalties that could reach much higher if a company is sued and fails to document something in court.
Wallets That Prevent Identity Theft
While "contactless" credit cards, which allow users to make tap-and-go purchases, are becoming more common, the new technology also carries new data-security risks. Enter Kena Kai, an Anaheim Hills, Calif.-based design boutique, which introduced the DataSafe Wallet on Monday.
Contactless smartcard technology surfaced at a growing number of locations -- highway tolls, gas pumps, building entrances, subway turnstiles, and stores. The Nilson Report, a Carpinteria, Calif.-based payment-systems industry research firm, estimates that there will be 20 million contactless credit cards in use by the end of 2006.
The technology is convenient, but can also pose a security threat. Without the need for physical contact, financial information can be taken from cards by thieves.
It works like this: a chip embedded on the card uses radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, to transmit information to an external reading device at close range -- usually within 10 centimeters, but can be as far as 50 centimeters. The DataSafe wallets are lined with radio-frequency shielding that prevents any information from being read.
One drawback, however, is that users have to take their contactless cards out of the wallets to use them.