The Reality of Fax Virtualization

What’s all the fuss about virtualization anyway?  Well for starters, it’s a hot topic in IT consolidation today because it saves money and helps the environment too. Virtualization is the ability to run multiple instances of applications, operating systems or CPUs on a “virtual” or “alien” platform. The obvious benefits are easy to see: Less computer hardware to maintain, less space in the datacenter, and even less energy consumption.

At first pass it sounds straightforward, but if you dig deep enough, virtualization can be thought of at multiple layers within the topology of an Enterprise to such a degree that it can be downright confusing. Popular definitions of virtualization will usually lump it into two main categories however: Platform virtualization and Application virtualization. If you want more, then it starts to get a little too deep.  As a matter of fact, Wiki lists about ten distinct categories of virtualization. But fear not, with respect to Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition (Formerly Captaris RightFax) and its role in your virtual reality, it is well, “virtually” a no brainer. Simply put, the new version Fax Server, RightFax Edition is an application that can run on a virtual machine using VMWare.   This means that your fax solution can now play nicely with whatever virtual strategies you have in place today and for the future. 

But wait, what about the fax boards that interconnect the server to the phone system? After all they are physical pieces of hardware that require occupancy in a machine. How do you turn that into a virtual solution too? The first answer is easy: Consider migrating to a software-only solution that eliminates the need for the fax boards altogether. That’s right; we’re talking about strengthening your virtualization strategy by adopting a fax over IP (FoIP) solution. Now, you’ve created a truly replicable environment.  

Okay, so what if that is not possible? Since we are on the topic of “reality”, it is well understood that many organizations are just starting to implement their plans to migrate to FoIP and that there are in fact a lot of installed fax boards already in place and working fine just as they are. That brings us to the second answer and it’s just as easy: Using Fax Server’s modern architecture, it’s simple to setup the fax boards in a dedicated CPU machine (with a remote DocTransport service running for example) and placing the rest of the application on an “alien” or “virtual” machine. You’re still going to recognize tangible benefits while leveraging your current fax board investments. Over time, you can migrate your fax hardware to FoIP and gain even more return as you virtualize the rest of the solution. 

To sum it all up, if going “virtual” is in your company’s plans, then Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition now offers flexible ways to make it… real.

Download a Fax over IP Toolkit and information on fax server virtualization in VoIP environments.  

Open Text has also published The Essential Guide to Fax Server Software and you can download it for free.  Jointly published with Windows IT Pro, this comprehensive guide details all considerations when developing a secure and cost effective fax enabled document delivery strategy.

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2 Responses to “The Reality of Fax Virtualization”


  1. 1 Mark Howarth November 15, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    What an excellent subject for a blog. In particular we like the strategy for separating the fax boards from the application by keeping them in a dedicated CPU machine. This is definitely a path for organizations that want to see out investments they’ve made in fax card hardware.

    We suggest that the cost of retaining server hardware (operating system, maintenance, support, real estate and other inputs) in this strategy be evaluated against the alternative of a Media Gateway. Axient customers have increased their utilisation of Media Gateways that provide any-to-any voice network connectivity and can deliver SIP services into legacy PRI, CAS, and SS7 networks, as well as IP-to-IP transcoding for network peering applications.

    Can the FDDG outline their thinking on the use of Media Gateway’s?

  2. 2 Matt Adney November 17, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Great question Mark…media gateways offer a flexible alternative to fax cards or remote doc transports and the ability to use media gateways alongside a fax server should be a consideration for any customer looking at a virtualized environment.

    As you have suggested the value of the media gateway is the ability to externalize the fax hardware with an all-in-one solution that should represent a lower longer term TCO than a dedicated CPU with existing fax cards. On the flip side, one advantage of remote doc transports is the ability to run remote fax resources over a network connection with low bandwidth or high latency.

    We have seen customers use both approaches and in some cases a mix of media gateways and remote doc transports suits the network design and so it becomes a hybrid model. The good news is the choice and options are available.


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