Posts Tagged 'Fax Server'

Open Text Delivers Extensible, Simple-to-Deploy Fax Over Internet Solution

Open Text Fax Gateway Maximizes Network Resources and Reduces Costs with Complete IP and Software-Based Fax Solution

Waterloo, ON. – March 02, 2010 – Open Text™ Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), the preeminent provider of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software, today announced a complete range of fax gateways that give organizations of all sizes a single source for all their fax over IP (FoIP) needs. Easy to implement, the new Open Text Fax Gateway solutions are designed to help customers lower total cost of ownership (TCO) by consolidating voice and data network equipment for fax.

FoIP implementations can have many variables, especially in larger and more complex networks. One of the more challenging aspects is figuring out how to properly configure, test and optimize a general-purpose media gateway to act as a fax gateway. By offering purpose-built fax gateways, optimized to work with the Open Text Fax Server, Open Text eliminates this complexity while giving customers and partners a single source for service and support.  Open Text is the market leader in enterprise fax solutions offered with integration to the comprehensive management capabilities available in the Open Text ECM Suite.

“We’re seeing more and more interest in fax over IP in organizations of all sizes because it gives them a promising way to lower costs and consolidate resources,” said Matthew Brine, Vice President, Fax and Document Distribution, Open Text. “The combination of our fax gateways and market-leading fax server software makes it easier than ever to deploy a highly sophisticated FOIP solution that can deliver considerable savings and improve business processes.”

Flexibility, Interoperability, Compatibility
Communications networks in many organizations are often intermixed with circuit-switched (telephony) and packet-switched (IP) technologies. Open Text Fax Gateway serves as the bridge between these two divergent technologies and simplifies FoIP implementations by converting telephony communications — fax T.30 signals and TDM protocols— to standards-based SIP and T.38. Click to read the complete news release.

Click to learn more about Fax Gateway for FoIP.

Why Faxing is Still Relevant in the 21st Century

By Darin McGinnes

Why would a communication technology that was conceived in the 19th Century and perfected in the 20th Century, still be important today in the 21st Century? The simple answer: faxing is a guaranteed delivery technology that email has yet to achieve. For those of us who work in the industry, this might be stating the obvious. But for the uninitiated, most believe faxing is practically dead, after all aren’t we in the Information Age? My answer: not so fast, as faxing is still alive and well!

Don’t get me wrong, email is a wonderful, convenient, and easy to use technology that for many businesses that relied on faxing in the past, do not need to use it as much anymore. But if you’re in an industry such as medical, finance, legal, or construction, you know that email isn’t good enough when it comes to delivering or receiving important, time sensitive or legal documents. In this respect, one may wonder why faxing is superior to email. It all comes down to the fact that a fax is considered a legal document because the transaction can be confirmed while email cannot.

Let’s look at how a fax is transmitted vs. email.  Email is built upon technology from the internet. It uses packet switch technology, which means it’s unreliable. Not that it’s ineffective, but the sender never knows for sure if the other side received the email as it is sent best effort only. Worse yet, it also could be easily intercepted by unscrupulous types. Faxing, on the other hand, is built upon technology from the tried and true public switched telephone network, the oldest communications network in the world. It uses circuit switch technology, which means that it’s reliable; both parties will know if the fax was sent successfully or not. Also, intercepting a fax transmission is much more difficult. And for those of you who are thinking: what about VOIP? Well, all that’s about is emulating a point-to-point circuit switched phone conversation over the packet switched internet. Circuit switched reliability is still intact.

One may ask if there is a better way to fax. After all, using traditional fax machines can be an unwieldy, inefficient process. Not to mention the difficult, time consuming process of integrating with business applications such as ERP, CRM, or document management systems. My answer to you is the fax server.

Either with an enterprise software solution like Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition or an appliance solution like Open Text Fax Appliance, FaxPress Edition, a fax server shields the inefficiency of sending or receiving faxes from the end user. It allows users to conveniently send and receive faxes from the desktop or leverage existing multifunction printers or scanners to send hard copy faxes. Furthermore fax servers seamlessly integrate with back office business applications that allow customers to realize a true paperless office, bringing the clunky fax into the 21st century of technology and convenience.

To learn more, download one of our free whitepapers:

Implementing Fax over IP in your Organization

Network Faxing with Open Text Fax Appliance, FaxPress Edition 

India’s Largest Airport works with Open Text to Modernize Fax Processes

Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) is a joint venture company that manages the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). With four terminals, and spreading over an operational area of 1450 acres, it is not only India’s largest airport, but that of all South Asia! Based on number of flights, Official Airline Guide (OAG) ranked it the seventh busiest airport in the world. With its overwhelming size and flight count, one can only imagine how hectic it is to keep things running smoothly and orderly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Being such a busy location, CSIA heavily relied on almost 50 fax machines due to the importance of communication within the airport and to external connections. It was too risky exposing high security documents in such a public location to fax them out. Not only was the wait to use a machine extremely inefficient, but wait time for someone to come to repair a broken fax machine and the financial resources used to maintain them made having multiple machines very costly.

Thanks to Open Text’s Fax Server, RightFax Edition, CSIA employees can send faxes electronically from any Microsoft application without even having to leave their workstations. For signatures, they’re scanned and stored, and when sent, a delivery notification is sent to the signing party as a notification. For those on the go, faxes can even be sent or received straight to a mobile device anytime, anywhere. Even on one of CSIA’s flights!

MIAL did look at other options, although some did not provide support in India and others could not meet the user capacity needed for such a large user interface of 1000 users!

After acquiring Open Text’s solution, Mumbai International Airport Limited was able to eliminate avoidable costs, reduce manual processes from minutes to seconds, eliminate almost all fax machines, and increase confidence in communication security. There is no longer the need to rely on the office for faxes they can be easily conducted from anywhere, really. What used to be a security concerned documents are now confidential. What used to be expenses are cost saving benefits. What used to be an inconvenience is now more convenient than ever.

The full case study is in pdf format published here.

Inbound Faxing in Microsoft Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging

There is a big change in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging (UM) that opens an opportunity for the Open Text Fax Server to help. With the Exchange 2007 UM, there was an option for sending inbound faxes to Outlook clients. In Exchange 2010 UM, the internal feature for inbound faxing was discontinued but an option to redirect fax calls to third-party vendors to provide the capability was added. Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition is able to provide that server for Exchange 2010 UM as of Feature Pack 1.

We have developed a brief video presentation to explain this.

Exchange Server 2007 UM provided an option for inbound faxing but did not provide options for outbound faxing. With Exchange 2010 UM, there is not a built-in option for either inbound or outbound faxing but there is an option to configure the server to redirect fax traffic to the Open Text Fax Server.  The Open Text Fax Server Exchange Connector has been available for inbound and outbound faxing in both Exchange 2007 and 2010 but this does not work within the Unified Messaging roles.

Microsoft published a case study on how Open Text developed this integration and it is available here.

We have a new white paper on Inbound Faxing with Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging.  Download here.

Open Text Partner Avanquest Solutions Discusses the Value of FoIP

This article originally appeared on the Enterprise Fax over IP channel on TMCnet.
As more companies are building or expanding their IP infrastructures, the benefits of consolidation with enterprise fax over IP are becoming evident as many organizations have already invested in VoIP technology as an alternative to traditional phone communications. In a recent interview with Avanquest Solutions, Mike Rae, sales director of the U.K.-based firm, discusses some of the advantages of adopting fax over IP.
 
“Using this existing IP resource to also transmit all your fax communications delivers an even greater return on this investment. Many of the costs associated with traditional fax machines such as hardware maintenance, consumables and phone line rental disappear,” Rae said. “Analog routers that are required in order to connect fax machines to your VoIP environment can also be removed creating even greater savings. Customers with multiple sites have the greatest opportunity to save money due to the fact that a centralised fax server can now manage faxing across the whole enterprise without the need for additional telephony provision at local sites.”
 
Avanquest Solutions has been the U.K. distributor and support and training center for Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition since 1992.
 
With fax over IP, the entire solution is software-based which means it can be implemented in a virtual environment which reduced the number of physical servers required and provides high-availability and disaster recovery, Rae explained.
 
There are several efficiencies that are achieved with Open Text Fax Server, Right Fax Edition. According to Rae, fax is still the most reliable and secure point to point document delivery solution there is. 
 
“Electronic faxing dramatically reduces costs, reduces paper and speeds up business processes by allowing users to send faxes from any application in under a minute. Staff no longer has to print out documents they want to fax, wait by the fax machine while it transmits and rely on a paper-based delivery report. The whole process is replicated electronically,” Rae said. “Fax servers enhance your unified communications infrastructure by delivering inbound faxes directly into the user’s personal inbox which means faxes can be retrieved from any location, with any device, improving response times to customers and saving time.”
 
The process of sending paper documents through OpenText Fax Server is easy, too, he said. By integrating with multi-functional devices, users can login to the device, select the fax option and enter recipient’s number just as they have always done. The document is transmitted by Open Text Fax Server through their personal account, delivery notification is sent to their email address and the fax and transmission history are stored electronically.
 
“This is all achieved over your IP network. There is no need to install a fax modem on the multi-function device or connect it to an analogue phone line,” Rae added.
 
OpenText Fax Server can also act as a fax gateway allowing almost any application to automate outbound faxing and e-mail delivery replacing the manual process of printing and posting batches of documents. Thousands of customers rely on the system to deliver trade confirmations, monetary payment confirmations, purchase orders, remittances and many more critical business documents, Rae said.
 
Since inbound faxes often trigger business processes, Open Text Fax Server can act as the on-ramp into your organization. Documents such as purchase orders and transfer requests can be handed to an intelligent capture application where they can be classified so that the relevant data can be extracted and verified before being automatically uploaded into a line of business application saving time and money and reducing data-entry errors.
 
In addition, enterprise fax over IP helps companies in terms of regulatory compliance by providing a degree of visibility and control over your fax traffic, which is difficult to ascertain with traditional methods of faxing. Open Text Fax Server stores a full electronic audit trail for each document which can be passed to billing systems and document management applications for cost-tracking and compliance purposes.
 
“Many industry regulators such as the Financial Services Authority deem fax machines insecure and non-compliant because they automatically print out received documents with no way of determining the recipient or what they did with that document next,” Rae said. “A fax server allows you to see exactly who printed, annotated or viewed the document and at what date and time.”
 
According to Rae, moving to FOIP greatly improves the business case for VoIP.
 
“The consolidation of data and communications to a single IP resource reduces the total cost of ownership – one bandwidth for all voice, data and fax communications,” he said. “Switching from traditional fax to FoIP allows you to centrally host faxing for multiple locations. Fax can be integrated with other applications throughout the organization as part of automated business processes and workflow.”

Fax Archiving: How to Flatten Mountains of Paper and Give Your Fax Server a Holiday Gift

With the holidays just around the corner we find the amount of mail we receive sky-rocketing. From greetings cards to catalogs and brochures, it’s not long before the paper mountain starts taking shape. Depending on where you live in the world your own letterbox maybe a slot in the front door or, a box outside your home or, on the street.  These designs have been around for years and continue to serve as a dependable way for homes to collect their mail. The common mailbox however, was never designed to act as a long term storage area for mail. Depending on your own particular model they either become full or, prevent you from being able to open your front door.  For most of us this never becomes an issue as we continue to use a tried and tested process to manage our mail.  This process normally involves removing the mail from the collection point, distributing items to particular people in the household and recycling those pieces we no longer need.  When managing e-mail we adopt similar processes that enable us to store and manage emails away from the server. So why do so many companies continue to burden their fax servers with the long term accumulation of faxes at the point of capture? While the prospect of succumbing to a lethal avalanche of kitchenware catalogs is unlikely, mistaking your fax server for a document repository can have some negative effects of its own.

Compliance Considerations

Let’s talk about compliance for a minute. Compliance may be a term that many of us have become anesthetized to, but the fact remains that non-compliance can be costly and potentially fatal to a business.  Whether compliance relates to specific regulations, audit requests or legal discovery, a company’s ability to provide faxes related to a given transaction, process or case can mean the difference between a negligible business interruption and operational standstill. Unfortunately, solutions for compliance only reach the top of an organization’s priority list once they find themselves subject to fines and legal action, by which point it’s often too late.  (We have published a new white paper on how fax servers are critical for compliance efforts.)

Efficiently Managing and Archiving  Fax Documents

Compliance aside, there are other reasons that should motivate an organization to transition documents away from the fax server and into a secure, searchable and auditable repository. How a business categorizes its faxes impacts how usable and “findable” those faxes becomes in the future.  By leaving documents on the fax server we are essentially categorizing information by fax recipient. So what happens when an employee takes on a new position or separates from the organization? Given the volume of faxes that can be received each day how quickly can we really find that individual fax that references the customer account number solely in the body of the document? Searching for faxes in these scenarios can quickly become distracting and more importantly, expensive.  It’s also worth considering that not having the right information to hand can quickly result in an organization finding itself at a strategic disadvantage in negotiations and business conflicts.

Just like that trusty mail box and the corporate e-mail server, the fax server was never designed to act as a long term repository so, relying on it to sort, manage, secure and share documents is a strategy we might all consider avoiding. One strategy worth considering however is that of fax archiving. Fax archives not only provide a long term storage solution for fax documents but also dramatically increase the value of the faxes themselves.  By attaching a document archive they are quickly able to:

  • Create secure repositories for fax storage
  • Audit document access and usage by user
  • Use OCR to extract text from fax images, making them highly searchable
  • Age, retain and dispose of faxes according to company policy or regulation
  • Share fax documents across the organization
  • Make documents accessible in Microsoft SharePoint and across the web
  • Relate faxes to other business documents
  • Create and distribute offline fax archives to third parties
  • Refocus Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition on executing fax capture and management processes versus fax storage

Many Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition users pair Open Text Document Server, Alchemy Edition with their fax server.  To decide if your organization will benefit from implementing a fax archive, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could your company ever find itself having to fulfill requests to provide fax documents to a third party such as an auditor, legal counsel or regulatory body?
  • Are your faxes subject to regulations or policies that dictate their retention and/or disposition?
  • Do faxes need to be shared amongst users in order to execute or support a business process?

If you answered YES to one or more of these questions you might consider attaching a document archive to your fax server. For a datasheet on Open Text Document Server, Alchemy Edition visit here.

We also have an updated overview on the Document Server, Alchemy Edition Connector for Fax Server, RightFax Edition available here.

Written by Darren Boynton with the Open Text Fax and Document Distribution Group.

Fax Server Redundancy – Protecting Your Document Communications

Wikipedia defines redundancy as, “the duplication of critical components of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the case of a backup or fail-safe.”

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundancy_(engineering).  Makes sense so far, right?  We all know however, that redundant systems can increase overall system availability too, meaning users or processes can run more efficiently. Still for being such a broad topic with many variables, we do see all kinds of monikers used when it comes to this subject:   High-availability; load-balancing; fault-tolerant, disaster recovery, and so on.  From an abstract perspective all of them are in some way descriptive of redundancy, with the end result real easy to understand: No loss of data and interruptions to your business.

A business interruption can be anything; telephone or internet failures; a corrupt database; a computer virus, a bad disk drive, a failed CPU in the datacenter, or any unplanned system downtime. They can even be as far reaching as a full scale disaster; floods, power outages, hurricanes, or even terror attacks. It goes without saying, but measures must be made to ensure that all mission critical applications are in some way redundant.  This could mean anything from a simple backup to a full-blown high available, redundant system. The choice is yours, and the options are plentiful.

Yet, the biggest challenge when considering redundancy for a software application like an enterprise fax server is exactly how much redundancy do you want? After all, Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition has a multi-layered architecture in which various components, databases, or processes can be placed into redundant scenarios that can ensure high uptimes while preserving faxes and data from being lost. This is good. Preserving lost faxes means preserving your business after all.

Getting down to some specifics:  When architecting your fax solution to provide maximum uptime it is helpful to understand the difference between fault-tolerance and system redundancy, as both can be addressed differently and have different ramifications to a business that relies on fax. A fault-tolerant system will continue to work if a single fax server component fails. Redundancy on the other hand, allows the entire fax enterprise to continue operating if one major component of that system fails. In a redundant scenario each component of the fax server must be duplicated. Typically it is common to have two fax servers operating in tandem, so that if one server fails the other server will continue to operate.

In practical terms specific to Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition, there are three typical redundant scenarios used:

  1. Load-balancing and Shared Services: This is a scenario in which a fax server shares its database of users, groups, printers, etc. amongst an enterprise of multiple fax servers. Typical with any company having more than one physical location, combined with the advancements made in Fax Server architecture, less fax server resources are now needed at the remote locations, making it easier to build in redundancy while leveraging your company LAN/WAN. In the end, a proper load balancing and shared services scenario will allow Fax Server to literally share its various server services and fax images across a network. In fact, many will say that this is very similar to an active-active cluster, in which shared resources not only ensure backup, but provides processing optimization and single location to administer.  Furthermore, Fax Server is optimized for high-availability, in which the database resources are shared such that the application is providing a centralized location for all company users, groups, and other data object, it does not have to be replicated anywhere else.  Here’s an example:  A fax server in Los Angeles will be “aware” of users located in the New York office because the database is shared. There is no need to have user data replicated across the enterprise. That shared database in L.A. can obviously be placed into a database cluster for redundancy purposes. All in all, taking advantage of Open Text Fax Server’s shared service architecture will boost your system reliability and your business’s ability to run without failure.
  2. A “Cold Spare” Scenario: A cold spare configuration is intended for use in the event of a long-term system shut down, a failure, or any other system interruption that may take more time to repair. Typically this is implemented as two fax servers on two hardware servers (or virtualized) as a primary server and a secondary server. It is important to note that a cold spare is not used in production but is available so that it will expedite recovery. A cold spare system is typically stored in an isolated or remote location and is considered to be “offline”. Its purpose is to be activated in the event of a primary system failure. This is a straightforward approach and offers an affordable way to have a level of redundancy if you can tolerate some manual intervention.
  3. Active-Passive Clustering: Typically, cluster environments protect against an application/service failure, system/hardware failure, site failure and even downtimes due to planned maintenance. In the case of Open Text Fax Server where a primary fax server had a failure, the business would revert to a secondary server to continue fax processing. That is of course, if a second fax server system has been setup to function as a passive “node”. What’s nice about Fax Server’s approach to this is the “node” doesn’t have to be the entire server application. Since Fax Server connects to the telephone system, there is a way to leverage the architecture to realize the benefits of clustering. Using remote Doctransports will allow you to divide up your fax channels between one active node (a.k.a a Open Text Fax Server) and a passive node (a.k.a. a backup copy of Fax Server). You still get the same channel capacity 100% of the time, but in the event of a node failure, those fax channels simply “see” the other node and keep on processing your critical fax documents. Combine this with the shared database and services and you’re now starting to build a high available redundant system unparalleled in efficiency and effectiveness.

Lots of choices and options are available to build a redundant Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition system and keep your business up and running. As stated before, the options are plentiful, no matter what size your company.  Be sure to work with a Open Text Fax Server VAR or Partner who can help design a plan that meets your needs.

To learn more about Fax Server, RightFax Edition and devising redundant scenarios to protect your business, download our eBook jointly published with Windows IT Pro.

We have just published this brief overview video on the Open Text Fax Server, RightFax Edition Shared Services Module which helps with redundancy.


RSS Open Text Fax & Document Distribution Group

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  • Open Text at Interop, Las Vegas 2010 April 25, 2010
    The Open Text Fax and Document Distribution Group participated in the InterOp 2010 show held in Las Vegas during the last week in April. The event was IT focused with companies representing areas such as computer and network monitoring, VoIP, virtualization, cloud computing, hosting, and security. We had a steady stream of traffic and discussions […]
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    International Technical Instructor Matt Williams, is surprised at how quickly and easily he got an Open Text Fax Gateway up and running after opening the box.