I'm feeling a bit like I ought to go to Las Vegas for the week. Why? Well, just a week ago I tested the JabberNow instant messaging appliance, and in my blog called on the rest of the industry to follow suit and begin packaging more applications into single-box appliances. And, in the next week, you'll be seeing more appliance announcements here in the messaging space, and I swear to you, I didn't know!This appliance thing really started in the security world, not in the messaging world. The need for complex firewall technology to block intruders from invading enterprise networks made packaging the required software and hardware into a purpose-built box with a power plug, and RJ45 connector and a web-based interface an attractive, and very good idea.
And packaged firewall technology wasn't just made for enterprise-class users. Starting with the Sonicwall-10 firewall a few years ago, small business and even home users began getting access to security technology, and today virtually every home and small business router has a firewall built into it.
As messaging security became more of an issue, anti-spam appliance started turning up, soon to be combined with anti-virus technology. Now we have compliance appliances showing up, and very (very, very) soon you can expect more from other security-oriented arenas -- I'd tell you, but certain entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley would have to shoot me.
The JabberNow box convinces me that more messaging applications will show up in boxes. Azaleos's struggle with the three-box complexity of Microsoft exchange made their appliance a bit weird, but I'll not be surprised to see a one-box alternative next year, and you'll almost certainly see an IBM Lotus Domino box sooner rather than later.
So, why not a call center box to serve the CRM crowd? Why not an HR box, and a network-attached storage box that's intelligent enough to feed itself every night with backup data? You'll see them because as technology become more complex, and more complex to upgrade and install, they will become even more attractive than they are now.