The modern office can sometimes be likened to a smorgasbord of seemingly disparate yet utterly essential IT equipment. Examples of such hardware can range from network switches, firewalls, wireless access points, routers and, of late, IP telephony servers. In addition, a modern office will likely have some kind of system for centralized file storage, as well as the requisite e-mail and Web server. While a bigger corporation will likely have the manpower or financial ability to hire external consultants, the same cannot be said for most SMBs. This is especially so in the case of a start-up, or perhaps a growing organization that is in the process of setting up some branch offices.
In fact, a recent study put the number of IT projects that fail at a staggering 68 percent. While some might argue that setting up a branch office doesn't constitute a project, my point here is to highlight the unanticipated difficulties inherent to IT endeavors in general.
This was why I was very excited when I chanced upon a unique all-in-one solution offered by a company called Sutus, Inc. The company apparently started in stealth mode in 2002, spending years to refine its Business Central product, which the company promises will be "the complete office communication and IT solution" for the SMB.
The development culminated in the form of the Sutus Business Central 200 (BC200), which is a truly amazing device. A normal looking desktop-sized box, the BC200 works as an Internet router, wireless access point, file server, network switch, firewall, as well as a VoIP PBX with features like auto attendant and voicemail. It also works as an e-mail server in either POP or IMAP modes.
I had the opportunity to test drive the BC200 for myself, and I must say that the entire solution is well-polished and extremely user friendly. Honestly, most PBX solutions are either very expensive or very complex to set up. Even though the BC200 is not even a dedicated PBX, it has neither of those problems, allowing me to easily create users and assign telephone extensions - all via its built-in Web interface.
Ultimately, of course, you do need to give some independent thought to how to set up your company's office. However, it might serve you well to first take a look at consolidated solutions like this one.