Latest Information Technology Lets Small Businesses Communicate and Network Like the Big Boys

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SotaComm is helping smaller firms boost productivity by taking advantage of the same open-source technology as big enterprises, even if they don't have their own IT staff.

They're on a roll, having raised significant venture capital, and recent funding from Intel and Dell as well. Not only have they won IP Telephony Magazine's 'Best Product of the Year' award three years running, but dozens of other awards as well, all while developing a customer base of more than 6000 companies worldwide.

SotaComm LLC ( today said it has begun providing communications and networking solutions to small and midsized businesses that are a radical improvement over anything previously available to these firms, based on open-source software and appliances from leading-edge technology vendors.

"We're a 'new age' kind of company that's packaging advanced, low-cost products and services from a set of new, fast-growing tech firms. We partner with them to help them reach the market their technology most benefits: small business," said Gary Doan, CEO and cofounder of SotaComm. "And we've started deploying these leading-edge solutions." A key advantage for the company's small business customers is they get advanced, value-added solutions with two levels of support from the commercial open source software vendor and SotaComm , which is especially critical if they do not have their own staff of IT professionals.

The Driving Trends
The adoption of open standards and the shift toward software-based appliance solutions are two major trends in enterprise IT that drove Doan and his partners to found SotaComm in early 2007. (Doan is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several other Minnesota-based technology firms. One of the company's other cofounders is Tim Andersen, founder of Bailiwick Data Systems, Chaska, MN.) SotaComm's state-of-the-art, certified offerings deliver enhanced features, ease of use, and reliability for small and midsized organizations. Appliance solutions are better options for these firms, said Doan, not only because they cost less to acquire and operate, but because they change the way smart businesses utilize their communication network and provide them with distinct productivity benefits.

Three Areas of Focus
SotaComm provides three categories of state-of-the-art, easy-to-use small business solutions: (1) phone systems, (2) security gateways, and (3) routers and firewalls. The VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) phone systems offered by the company have more features and innovations than traditional systems, and can save most businesses up to 60% of the cost of those proprietary systems, which until recently have been their only choice. A leading telecommunications research firm, ATLANTIC-ACM, has said the fastest growing demand segment for VOIP will be businesses with 11-100 employees, which will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenues of 29.7% through 2012. According to a May 2008 report by WinterGreen Research, IP phone systems have "gained widespread acceptance in the marketplaceā€¦and demand is continuing to increase."

For IP phone systems, SotaComm partners with rapidly growing IP phone systems vendor Fonality. It resells that company's hardware/software solutions, including its "PBXtra" product line. SotaComm also offers a PBX appliance called the "TB Pro" that is sold and serviced by SotaComm locally. These IP phone system solutions allow small to midsized firms to compete on a level playing field with much larger companies by providing them with true enterprise-class PBX phone systems, at 40-80% of the cost of those systems.

SotaComm's TB Pro is a private-label version of Fonality's "Trixbox Pro," which incorporates PBXtra software and includes the very popular "Heads Up Display" (HUD), which is a powerful companion to the office phone that runs on each employee's personal computer. It's a highly visual operator panel that allows "drag-and-drop" calling and transferring, as well as conference calling and is also a call center application.

"Once employees start using the Heads Up Display inside a company, they can't do without it," said Doan. "It's simple to use and a great productivity booster." The HUD feature is also standard on SotaComm's TB Pro appliance. "We chose to partner with Fonality after evaluating several PBXs on the market and discovering they clearly had the best product out there," said Doan. "They're on a roll, having raised significant venture capital, and recent funding from Intel and Dell as well. Not only have they won IP Telephony Magazine's 'Best Product of the Year' award three years running, but dozens of other awards as well, all while developing a customer base of more than 6000 companies worldwide."

For security gateways, SotaComm has partnered with leading emerging vendor Untangle, which produces the world's first commercial-grade open source solution for "unified threat management" - that is, blocking spam, spyware, viruses, adware, and unwanted content on the network, and providing a better alternative to costly, inflexible proprietary appliances (from such firms as SonicWALL and WatchGuard). The company, based in Silicon Valley and backed by two leading VC firms, already has more than 20,000 users of its open-source solutions.

In its third major area of focus, SotaComm provides router solutions from Vyatta, a company that has changed the networking world by commoditizing advanced router, firewall, and VPN (virtual private network) deployment in the same way that Linux commoditized the operating system market. Each month, more than 15,000 users worldwide turn to Vyatta's open-source networking platform in their search for an alternative to over-priced, inflexible products from proprietary vendors. In independent tests, Vyatta appliances outperformed comparable Cisco products at a costs savings of up to 75%. Vyatta is based in Silicon Valley and backed by several leading venture capital firms.

"These three technology partners - Fonality, Untangle, and Vyatta - are really hitting stride and gaining critical mass in the marketplace," said SotaComm CEO Doan. "Their software and appliances have been tested hard and proven in the real world. Having formed partnerships with these best-of-breed vendors, we're enabling our small business customers to immediately take advantage of open source advances, and reap the very real financial benefits their big brethren are. And, best of all, we can provide true hands-on support and training for them."

Doan continued: "SotaComm's business is now about delivering appliances based on the platforms of leading vendors Fonality, Untangle, and Vyatta - all of which incorporate best-of-breed software. All our appliances are extremely easy-to-use, are rock solid and proven, and are backed by two levels of support."

Why Open Source?
SotaComm is showing its customers that open source is a better way to develop and deliver software. It's more transparent and holds vendors accountable to the community. Since it's heavily standards-based, it gives customers flexibility and protection from vendor lock-in. Further, it lets technology vendors leverage the expertise of the community to build better products, which can be more full-featured with open source software. Vendors can deliver an amazing amount of commercial-grade functionality for free, while also offering fully supported versions of these solutions at dramatically lower prices than can proprietary software vendors. And customers of SotaComm get the advantage of "dual-layer support" - not just the vendor's, but also support and training provided by SotaComm.

About SotaComm
SotaComm LLC, a name that derives from "State of the Art Communications," is bringing big-company benefits in open-source software and appliances to small and midsized businesses, initially in three key areas: (1) IP telephony systems, (2) unified threat management, including spam blocking and web filtering, and (3) router and firewall solutions. SotaComm, based in Chaska, MN, partners with leading vendors in open source solutions for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), including Fonality (VOIP phone systems), Untangle (security gateways), and Vyatta (open-source routers and firewalls), and develops its own line of appliances. SotaComm plans to extend its line of appliances beyond best-of-breed communication infrastructure solutions to include storage, data protection, and archiving solutions, because it believes its customers can benefit from having an open, easy-to-use, low-cost, and unified communications and storage network. For more information about SotaComm, please visit the company's web site at, call (952) 479-4111 or toll free (866) 587-4111.

Press contact:
Gary Doan, CEO/Cofounder
SotaComm LLC
(952) 479-4111


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