Small Business News Briefs

Dell Debuts Discount Desktop for SMBs
Dell this week introduced a value-priced desktop system aimed to meet the network computing needs of budget-conscious small businesses. The OptiPlex 170L, starting at just $449, is a good value for small businesses that scrutinize PC purchases, but but require networking capabilities or have to allow for remote management of system software.

Indraj Gill, Dell worldwide marketing director for OptiPlex, said the new 170L features enhanced performance that can help small business increase productivity.

“Many of Dell’s small business customers are so focused on the purchase price of desktop systems that they may sacrifice business critical attributes such as network optimization and systems management,” Gill said. “With the OptiPlex 170L, small businesses get a product that addresses their budget concerns and offers the performance and functionality used by larger companies.”

Technical features of the OptiPlex 170L include a choice of processors — either Intel Pentium 4 processors operating at up to 3.2GHz or Intel Celeron processors operating at up to 2.6GHz. Other options include up to 2 GB of memory that runs at 320MHz when used with an 800MHz front side bus (266MHz when configured with a 400MHz FSB processor), and a choice of 40GB, 60GB, and 120GB hard drives.

The OptiPlex 170L also features six universal serial bus 2.0 ports — two in the front and four in the rear of the unit — and three peripheral expansion slots — one 3.5-inch external diskette bay, two 5.25-inch external diskette bays and two internal drive bays. Just about any configuration of CD-ROM drive is available — compact disk read/write-only, digital videodisk read-only memory, or CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo are drives available.

The OptiPlex 170L comes with a one-year, next business day on-site service contract that is upgradable to three years of coverage. This service is available in the U.S. only and may be provided by a third-party vendor. Service is also dependent upon time of day the call is placed to Dell.

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WatchGuard’s Firebox X Foursome Ignites a Spark in SMEs
WatchGuard has launched its first series of integrated security appliances designed to be fully upgradeable through a license key. The new Firebox X lineup of integrated security appliances is designed for small- to mid-sized enterprises.

Each Firebox X device in the lineup can provide a firewall, virtual private network (VPN) access, application layer inspection, intrusion prevention functionality, spam blocking, Web filtering and even user authentication. WatchGuard leaves it to the customer to decide which security features need to be activated.

All integrated security functions and capabilities on the Firebox X can be controlled through a common management console designed for intuitive operation. And Firebox X appliances are designed to scale with an organization’s growth — avoiding the need for time-consuming hardware replacements to keep up with constantly increasing performance and capacity requirements.

Firebox X features WatchGuard’s Intelligent Layered Security (ILS) architecture, which is designed to maximize protection without compromising performance. ILS technology enables multiple levels of security systems that work together to neutralize different types of security threats. This means Firebox X can block varied methods of attack without significant performance degradation of the associated network.

Each appliance also features six Ethernet ports, enabling the Firebox X to serve as both a perimeter security device and an interdepartmental firewall. By segmenting users and devices on the network and enforcing different security policies, businesses can protect against attacks originating from both internal and external sources.

The Firebox X lineup of integrated security appliances is comprised of four models that share a common hardware platform: the Firebox X500, Firebox X700, Firebox X1000 and Firebox X2500 are available immediately. Prices range from $1,990 for the Firebox X500 to $4,990 for the Firebox X2500.

WatchGuard expects to release its first upgrade license keys in March 2004. Firebox X appliances and add-on services are available through WatchGuard resellers.

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Simply Online Accounting Gets Mid-Winter Makeover
ACCPAC International, a subsidiary of Computer Associates, this week released a slew of new business productivity features for its Simply Accounting Online hosted service for small businesses.

Simply Accounting Online provides Web-based accounting and payroll services on a subscription basis. Simply Accounting Online subscriptions are available for $24.99 per month per user in the U.S. (After a one-time setup fee of $24.99.)

The service allows small businesses to manage their accounting from any location with an Internet connection. The latest feature upgrades include a complete time and billing module, purchase order processing, sales order processing, departmental accounting capabilities, pre-paid orders support, and the ability to lock accounting periods from accepting further transactions.

These new features are immediately available to all Simply Accounting Online subscribers at no extra cost, which is what Scott Garell, ACCPAC small business group senior vice president, calls the beauty of the system.

“Simply Accounting Online reduces the technology hassle for small businesses and makes upgrading simple,” Garell said. “New features are added incrementally, so learning can be spread out over time, and users don’t have to wait for one large annual upgrade to get the new features they need.”

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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