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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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November 4, 2013 |

Meet the Newest All-Stars of Tomorrow

For the second year running, our readers and a panel of experts highlight some of the vendor community’s hidden gems.

You’ve done it again! Last year, ChannelPro-SMB asked its readers and a panel of experts to tell us about their favorite upstart, overlooked, or underappreciated vendors-those hidden gems of the technology industry that should be everyday names but aren’t yet. And you came through with dozens of excellent suggestions.

In fact, you told us about so many great yet relatively unheralded companies that we came back for another batch this year. And once more, you’ve introduced us to a bevy of innovative vendors deserving of greater recognition from the SMB channel. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself.

CLOUD COMPUTING

2X Software LLC Sure, you can go with prefabricated solutions, but fans of the “roll your own” approach to private cloud construction should check out 2X Software in Dallas. The company’s 2X ApplicationServer XG product feeds virtual desktops and applications to PCs, thin clients, and mobile devices running Android, iOS, or BlackBerry. You can host the system either locally on the hardware of your choice or, thanks to an alliance agreement with Austin, Texas-based cloud provider Artisan Infrastructure, online instead. www.2x.com

“CloudCheckr offers a powerful yet easy-to-use solution to manage and optimize AWS resources that can help organizations reduce costs while obtaining greater utilization.” Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director, THINKstrategies Inc.

CloudCheckr Inc. Yes, Amazon Web Services comes with management tools, but according to some users at least, they’re less than robust. Hence the rise of third-party management and analytics services like CloudCheckr, of Rochester, N.Y., that help companies strengthen security, boost performance, and reduce waste in AWS-based environments. “CloudCheckr offers a powerful yet easy-to-use solution to manage and optimize AWS resources that can help organizations reduce costs while obtaining greater utilization,” says Jeff Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies Inc., a cloud computing and managed services consulting firm in Wellesley, Mass. Better yet, CloudCheckr’s entry-level edition is both loaded with features and totally free. www.cloudcheckr.com

DataRPM Corp. Big data solutions can be a powerful source of business insights. Alas, they can also be expensive and difficult to use. DataRPM, of Fairfax, Va., aims to tackle both problems. Its cloud-based business intelligence solution indexes data from multiple on-premises and cloud-based data sources and then lets you query that information via intuitive, natural language questions. Want to find your best customers? Type “Who are my most profitable clients?” in the Google-style search bar, then drill into the graphically rich results. And since it’s a software-as-a-service offering, there are no up-front investments in hardware, licensing, or installation. www.datarpm.com

REMOTE MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT

ihiji Inc. We thought we knew every RMM solution out there until an anonymous reader proved us wrong. ihiji invision, from Austin, Texas-based ihiji Inc., collects device and network data through a compact, locally installed appliance and then feeds it to a Web-based portal. If that reminds you of Cisco’s discontinued OnPlus product, that’s because the two systems are very similar. Indeed, according to ihiji, invision makes a great replacement for OnPlus, only with more functionality. Oh, and if you’re curious about the name, it’s pronounced “eeh-he-gee,” which is apparently a phonetic rendering of the Japanese characters for the word “reflecting.” www.ihiji.com

SECURITY

Acunetix Web applications make a tempting target for hackers, because carefully written exploits can fly right past firewalls and traditional network and OS security tools. Web Vulnerability Scanner, from Maltese software maker Acunetix, protects companies from a frighteningly long and ever-expanding list of application-focused online threats inventoried on its website. The newest version, released in August, adds support for applications written in HTML5 and comes in a reasonably priced small business edition. www.acunetix.com

AlgoSec Hybrid cloud computing makes for more complex networks, and a more complex network makes for more-and more complicated-security policies. The AlgoSec Security Management Suite, from Boston-based AlgoSec, simplifies policy definition and enforcement across routers, Web gateways, and both conventional and next-generation firewalls from multiple vendors. Kevin Beaver, principal information security consultant at Principle Logic LLC, in Acworth, Ga., likes the company as much as its product. “They play well in a space that’s not very crowded, their support and management team are very accessible, and most importantly, their Firewall Analyzer tool provides a ton of insight into an area of information security that’s often overlooked and taken for granted,” he says. www.algosec.com

Greenview Data Inc. Huge volumes of email traverse the globe each day-and the vast majority of it is spam. In fact, spam accounted for more than 70 percent of the 105 billion emails sent daily this past June, according to figures from Greenview Data, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based maker of hosted anti-spam service SpamStopsHere. Using multiple, customizable filters, SpamStopsHere blocks spam in the cloud before it reaches your clients. Plus, it’s backed by live 24/7/365 support. All of that has turned Daniel J. Haurey, president and CEO of Exigent Technologies LLC, in Mount Arlington, N.J., into a fan. “Their pricing is great, the filtering accuracy is spot-on, and their support has been consistently solid and responsive,” he says. www.spamstopshere.com

Identity Finder LLC Average data breaches cost U.S. businesses $5.4 million in 2012, according to security researcher Ponemon Institute LLC. Software from New York-based Identity Finder is designed to shield businesses from such expenses. The company’s data discovery tools help organizations identify sensitive information in almost any type of file on almost any kind of device, or in cloud-based data repositories like Office 365, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Identity Finder’s data loss prevention systems add the ability to define and enforce security policies on all of those endpoints through a central console. www.identityfinder.com

>>View the complete list of 2013 ChannelPro SMB All-Stars>>

>>See our entire All-Star Directory>>

STORAGE

Addonics Technologies Inc. This storage hardware maker, with headquarters in San Jose, Calif., sells everything from adapters that turn independent storage drives into ersatz NAS systems to I/O converters that transfer data from Apple iPods to PCs. Its recently introduced Sapphire Snap-In Disk Arrays are compact, lightweight, multibay storage systems that support up to four hot-swappable hard drives or SSDs. www.addonics.com

CloudByte Inc. Optimized for cloud-based and virtualized environments, ElastiStor, from Cupertino, Calif.-based CloudByte, allows organizations to pool storage resources centrally and manage them dynamically. Just define performance requirements for your virtual machines and ElastiStor automatically allocates and reallocates storage as necessary to meet them. Designed for maximum flexibility, ElastiStor runs on industry-standard server hardware and supports any combination of SATA, SAS, and SSD drives, not to mention the NFS, CIFS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI protocols. CloudByte’s brand new partner program debuted in August. www.cloudbyte.com

Exablox Inc. Big data used to be the exclusive province of big companies. These days, however, even SMBs are accumulating massive amounts of information. Exablox, of Sunnyvale, Calif., gives them easy, affordable access to enterprise-grade storage functions like deduplication, failover, and replication. And we do mean easy: Insert three or more SATA, SAS, or solid-state drives into an Exablox appliance, connect the device to your client’s network, and you’re good to go. No RAID, LUNs, or storage volumes to manage, and the scale-out architecture makes adding capacity as simple as plugging in another appliance. You can administer everything remotely too, using the company’s cloud-based management solution. www.exablox.com

Nimble Storage Inc. Many vendors these days offer hybrid storage systems that combine high-performance SSDs with high-capacity hard drives. Hybrid products from Nimble Storage, however, are among the most compact and, well, nimble available. In fact, the San Jose, Calif.-based company says its offerings require 30 to 75 percent less space than competing solutions and scale more flexibly, because users can augment processing power and capacity independently. That means companies with plenty of capacity that need better performance can just upgrade their controller instead of buying a whole new device, while users with excellent performance in need of more capacity can simply plug in additional storage drives. InfoSight, Nimble’s cloud-based management system, provides proactive warning of impending technical problems and offers a range of useful analytics and forecasting tools. www.nimblestorage.com

BACKUP AND DISASTER RECOVERY

Actifio Inc. Businesses of every size spend big money on storage solutions. Yet according to IDC, nearly 75 percent of what they’re storing on average is copied data generated by backup systems, archiving solutions, and other applications. Actifio, of Waltham, Mass., helps you use disk space more efficiently by creating a single master copy of information that all of your other systems then share. The result, the company says, is simpler data management and up to a 95 percent reduction in storage footprint. Actifio plans to add analytics capabilities to its solution in the future. www.actifio.com

AwesomeCloud Services LLC BDR is but one of several cloud-based services from this Boca Raton, Fla., company. Resellers will like its 100 percent partner-driven sales model and white-label branding. Security-conscious end users will appreciate that Awesome Cloud stores data in dedicated rather than multitenant repositories, and even provides dedicated servers for an extra fee. The high-availability edition of Awesome Cloud’s backup service promises one-hour recovery times. www.awesomecloud.com

VOIP/UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS

Happiest Minds Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Founded in 2011 in Bangalore, India, Happiest Minds offers products spanning mobility, analytics, security, cloud computing, and beyond. Its unified communications solution, UCAssure, integrates with systems from Microsoft, Cisco, and Avaya, and is backed by predeployment assessment, solution design, and migration services. The “Lite” edition is priced to suit SMB technology budgets. www.happiestminds.com

RingCentral Inc. San Mateo, Calif.-based RingCentral’s namesake product offers all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a hosted VoIP solution, including audio conferencing, unified messaging, and sophisticated call management. But it also comes with mobile apps that extend those features to iPhones, BlackBerries, and Android devices, not to mention an SMS service that lets you send texts from your business number and integration with Salesforce.com, Dropbox, and other cloud solutions. To top it off, RingCentral’s partner program pays both up-front commissions and long-term residuals. www.ringcentral.com

StarLeaf With U.S. headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., StarLeaf offers a single, cloud-based solution for both voice and video communications. Simply connect one of the company’s push-button or touchscreen phones to either the StarLeaf personal telepresence system or an ordinary PC to enjoy a wide range of tightly integrated VoIP and videoconferencing features. Usage fees start at $99 a month, and are based on a concurrent licensing model that allows companies to buy only as many seats as they expect to use simultaneously. StarLeaf’s free Breeze software, meanwhile, adds video calling functionality to iPads and both Apple and Windows laptops. www.starleaf.com

Zultys Inc. Also based in Sunnyvale, Zultys makes an “all in one” unified communications system designed specifically for SMBs that bundles voice, presence, video and audio conferencing, IM, faxing, and more in an easy-to-install appliance. Like RingCentral, the Zultys solution integrates with Salesforce.com and supports iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. It also works with the company’s own line of desk phones and pretty much any other SIP-based device or application. Zultys sells exclusively through the channel and limits partners to a few per geography, to reduce intrachannel competition. www.zultys.com

>>View the complete list of 2013 ChannelPro SMB All-Stars>>

>>See our entire All-Star Directory>>

MOBILITY

Appcelerator Inc. The name pretty much says it all. Appcelerator, of Mountain View, Calif., accelerates mobile app creation. The company’s Titanium development environment, available free of charge, lets you run one code base on any major mobile platform. It also includes a library of prebuilt application services, back-end integration with various public cloud services, and support for more than 5,000 iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, and HTML5 APIs. The significantly pricier yet more robust Appcelerator Platform adds automated testing and experience-driven analytics tools for measuring end-user engagement and activity, among other goodies. www.appcelerator.com

AppMesh Inc. Founded by former employees of Salesforce.com, this San Francisco start-up makes a CRM solution optimized for mobile sales professionals. The AppMesh app (which for now runs only on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) automatically syncs data across devices, remains fully functional even when you’re offline, and integrates tightly with Apple’s email, calendar, address book, and geolocation apps. The results, according to IDC mobile and wireless analyst Ben Hoffman, include reduced manual input, increased customer insight, and greater productivity. “The company understands there is a need for a mobile-centric solution, particularly given small businesses’ surging demand for mobile applications,” he says. Eager to bulk up its customer base, AppMesh currently offers its software free to teams of up to five people. http://appme.sh

Beachhead Solutions Inc. A maker of access and encryption solutions for PCs, Macs, and USB storage devices, Beachhead Solutions, of San Jose, Calif., recently added mobile device management features to its SimplySecure product suite, as well as a cloud-based console for centrally managing both mobile and nonmobile devices. The company’s partner program bills a flat sum monthly for each license you deploy, so you can set margins wherever you wish. www.beachheadsolutions.com

DIGITAL SIGNAGE

Capital Networks Ltd. Long a provider of vertical solutions to the cable television industry, Capital Networks, of Toronto suburb Markham, Ontario, now makes both an intuitive digital content management system and a media player based on Google’s Android operating system. Together, the two products offer small businesses an economical plug-and-play option for deploying complete digital signage solutions. “Restaurants, retailers, medical/dental [offices], consumer services, [and] even schools now have easy, affordable access to the enabling value of digital signage,” says Lyle Bunn, strategy architect at digital signage consultancy BUNN Co., of Brighton, Ontario. www.capitalnetworks.com

Dot2Dot Communications Inc. A Toronto-based neighbor of Capital Networks, Dot2Dot makes “concept to connection” digital signage solutions for customers in retail, education, and banking, among other verticals. But it’s the company’s flagship product, Ad Manager, that makes it another of Bunn’s favorites. The system provides one-stop resources for designing, executing, and analyzing signage-based outdoor advertising campaigns targeted to specific demographic and geographic profiles. “They are really just a few years old but are mighty in terms of their offering and their prospects,” says Bunn of Dot2Dot. www.dot2dotcommunications.com

Omnivex Corp. If you liked the video walls, kiosks, room scheduling screens, and ad displays you saw at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, you’re already an admirer of Omnivex, which like our other highlighted signage vendors is located in the Toronto area. Omnivex’s Moxie signage solution won Microsoft’s heart at least partially because the latest edition runs on the Windows Embedded 8 operating system. Other customers, however, appreciate the system’s ability to target and personalize content based on information stored in external data sources, like CRM systems, calendars, and more. www.omnivex.com

>>View the complete list of 2013 ChannelPro SMB All-Stars>>

>>See our entire All-Star Directory>>

Contributing Experts
In addition to our readers, ChannelPro-SMB solicited suggestions for this article from this panel of experts:

  • Kevin Beaver, Principle Logic LLC
  • Harry Brelsford, SMB Nation
  • Lyle Bunn, BUNN Co.
  • Ben Hoffman, IDC
  • Jeff Kaplan, THINKstrategies Inc.
  • Amy Lind, IDC
  • Tom Poole, SMB Nation
  • Greg Schulz, StorageIO

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