Infovell's Infovell. The world probably doesn't want another search engine, but businesses might consider Infovell, which promises deeper search via thousands of indexed research journals, technical articles, and patent applications. Popular search engines rely on popularity to determine what to index, cutting out content considered obscure to the masses. Infovell's innovation is less about technology than a realization that popularity is not the right filter when it comes to specialized research. Grade: C.
OpenACircle.com's OpenACircle. WebEx and GoToMeeting are necessary evils for many -- clunky Web meeting apps that by dint of being early are commonly used. OpenACircle's execs claim their service is better because it lets you create ad hoc groups (circles) as needed, and add, share, and even annotate documents together -- going beyond just meeting capabilities. Essentially, it's permission-based file sharing plus Web meetings. That's a plausible value, but not a huge leap from today's many other offerings. And OpenACircle is clunky, like the standard meeting apps, so no improvement there. Grade: D.
Paragent'sParagent MSP. Most large organizations have an internal or outsourced help desk to manage PCs, track inventory, configuration, and status. But most small businesses don't really manage their PCs, and some hire managed service providers -- usually small shops of a few IT people supporting a few dozen to a few hundred client PCs -- to do it for them. Paragent MSP gives such MSPs a tool to monitor their clients' PCs, tapping into WMI (the native Windows Management Instrumentation API) so that they can see, for example, if a PC has a free memory slot to support RAM for a Windows Vista installation. MSPs pay an annual fee of $8 per PC being monitored. The service includes remote management capabilities based on VNC that let the MSP bypass firewall and other access barriers, so they can more easily troubleshoot user systems. The service taps into an existing Windows service (which our own Windows Sentinel also uses), so it's not technologically sophisticated. But small MSPs will appreciate the access it gives to client systems. Grade C.