New one-stop shop for network needs? Staples?

Maybe someone at Staples believes the Easy Button is real technology. How else does one explain the office supply chain's announcement last week that it is branching out to become a "one-stop" provider of data center and network services for corporate customers of all sizes.

From the company's press release: "Staples Technology Solutions offers business customers - from small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) to Fortune 1000 corporations - access to a full range of offerings from data center solutions and printer fleet management services to network services and everyday desktop technology products."

I mean it's almost as if a search engine company decided to become a broadband services provider.

To be fair, however, Staples did not just wake up one morning and decide to woo IT and network professionals; this gambit has been in the works for some time. The company bought SMB services specialist Thrive Networks in 2006, and the fruits of that acquisition now powers a 300-person operation in Florida that provides a wide variety of data center and production printing services. And, yes, Staples has long sold a wide variety of electronics – including computers and peripherals – both in its stores and online.

Nevertheless, it's not unfair to suggest that the company's marketing department may have its work cut out, witness this comment on a Boston Globe story last week: "You walk into a Staples and you got people who don't know the answers to the most simple questions. Now you are (turning to) Staples type of people to do critical business tasks! WOW. Not in my enterprise."

How about yours?

EFF publishes 'Digital Books and Your Rights' … (sigh)

As signs of the times go, this one is somewhat sad. Last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation saw fit to publish "Digital Books and Your Rights," a guide for those who own or want to purchase an e-reader.

Days before EFF's announcement, I had taken my kids to the local Barnes & Noble, left with a handful of children's titles, and never once stopped to think about the current or future legal implications of that purchase.

Of course, there's no chance Barnes & Noble will come to my house and snatch the books back, no chance that the books will one day be rendered inoperable, and no chance some future legal edict will force the publishers to redact disputed passages. … At least no chance of which I am aware.

But such is not the case with e-books, as was learned through the great Amazon "1984" fiasco.

From EFF's press release: "Over the last few months, the universe of digital books has expanded dramatically, with products like Amazon's Kindle, Google Books, Internet Archive's Text Archive, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Apple's upcoming iPad poised to revolutionize reading. But while this digital books revolution could make books more accessible than ever before, there are lingering questions about the future of reader privacy, consumers' rights, and potential censorship."

Among the questions EFF suggests you consider are: Does the service limit tracking of you and what you read? When you pay for a book, do you own it outright or merely license it? And, is the service censorship resistant?

You can read EFF's complete rundown of your digital-book rights here.

Or you can take your kids to a bookstore.

Thoughts to share? The address is

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "New one-stop shop for network needs? Staples?" was originally published by Network World.

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon