|The Enterprise Fax Server
The primary goal of today's businesses is growth.
One of the oft-ignored side effects of this expansion is the gradual stretch
effect on the organisations IT infrastructure. Switched-on companies now have
to think ahead when implementing any aspect of technology and ask themselves the question
will this system cope in 6 months, a year, or five years time?
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of faxing. Before the days of fully
computerised fax servers, a company's expanding faxing needs were met by purchasing ever
more fax machines which resulted in long term administrative overheads, maintenance,
consumables costs and so on. Nowadays, such an approach is no longer always necessary.
Some modern fax servers are designed from the ground up with scalability in mind. These
scaleable systems are labelled Enterprise Fax Servers because of their ability
to not only scale through additional lines, but also scale with fail over and WAN
The Enterprise Fax Server
At the outset, a two-line fax server may seem more than enough to cope with existing fax
traffic, but what happens when the marketing department catches on and decides to put it
to use as a fax broadcast device, or a purchase order system is required to fax direct
from the application? Taking advantage of cheap rate telephone calls certainly saves the
company money on those expensive mailers and postage, but will those two lines really be
able to send 5,000 faxes or more? Fortunately, there is not always a need to buy a
whole new fax server. An Enterprise Fax Server will readily expand to cope. All that is
required is another fax modem or fax board to slot into the server the initial
investment is protected. Fax servers today can scale from one line to a full 60 channel
PRI (Primary Rate ISDN) circuit to cope with the needs of even the largest customers. With
a fax server like this running full tilt, over a million fax pages could easily be sent or
received in a month.
Many companies suffer from Technology Creep meaning that, as a company grows, not
all departments grow in the same direction. How can these disparate needs be integrated
when it comes to fax? Answer: very easily. Recognising that fax server products need to be
flexible, developers have concentrated on the need to support many different types of
clients effectively and have recognised the desirability of integrating e-mail and
voice-messaging systems. They are also taking advantage of intranet and Web browser
technology. The growth of IP-based development environments like Java and ActiveX has
meant that a desktop client no longer needs to be tied to the desktop. By integrating with
standard Web browsers, the humble fax server can now deliver all of that faxing power
wherever in the world you may be at the click of a URL.
Often it is back-office applications that account for much of a fax servers traffic.
In a manual fax machine environment it may have been impractical to bulk fax all those
invoices, statements or purchase orders, but the fax server scales to this task well.
Being able to deal with the needs of the front office user is vital in a fax server, but
expanding to meet the needs of line-of-business applications and non-PC systems is
absolutely key. The fax server has grabbed hold of the Internets coat tails with
both hands and many fax servers already link directly into the Internet in a number of
areas. Least Cost Routing is an established technology that allows the delivery of faxes
across a WAN or the Internet to an office that is nearer to the intended location, thereby
greatly reducing the cost of telephone calls for faxing.
Many organisations have now set up internet/faxing bureaux across the globe which fax
servers can tap into if your organisation hasnt got an office in Singapore
you can fax from cheaply, you can be sure someone else has. IP-enabled fax servers and fax
machines are also now readily available. Why send over the public telephone network at
all, when two IP-Fax devices can send directly across the Internet at no cost whatsoever?
If the primary goal of todays business is growth, then that is also the goal of the
Enterprise Fax Server. With its ability to deal with ever-greater volumes of fax traffic,
a wider variety of client interfaces, gateways to other computing systems and new
technologies, the Enterprise Fax Server of today remains an essential part of a modern IT
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