Installing an IP fax server delivers wide ranging benefits due to its centralized and fault tolerant nature. The primary advantages are:
- Lower maintenance costs: With an IP fax solution fax traffic enters the IP environment via a gateway rather than through the PBX. As the maintenance costs of routers are significantly less than those for a PBX regular maintenance contract costs can be greatly reduced.
- Lower operating costs: Complex network infrastructures made up of disparate technologies are common in medium to large enterprises. Complexity is forced on the company as it expands and having to operate separate data and telephone networks adds to this issue. Integration of data, voice and fax communications over the IP network eliminates the need for a telephone network and allows support resources and personnel to be focused on the data network.
- Easier deployment and maintenance: In a VoIP/FoIP environment the location of the IP fax server is independent of the PSTN network access point as gateways provide the connection to the PSTN. The fax processing resources simply need access to a data network, Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN), where the gateway resides. The various application servers on the enterprise WAN can now deliver services to all locations from one central data center, using the gateways in remote offices to gain access to the PSTN. This arrangement reduces the number of parts that are remotely managed, consolidating maintenance and lowering costs. This also simplifies deployment to remote locations, enables greater consolidation of fax services, lowers disaster preparedness costs, and enables least cost routing via the WAN. Traditionally, provisioning fax services to employees in remote locations required installing an on-site fax server in those remote locations, which usually required a large user base to cost-justify. However, with an IP fax server, employees can access the fax image and signal processing capability that resides in a remote data center.
- Track and trace: Never experience fax loss. Keep records of every fax transaction and configure retention policies based on your compliance requirements. With a FoIP solution in place, the location of the fax server is independent of the user. Fax server deployment can, therefore, be reduced to one or two strategically located data centers.
- Lower risk of connection failure: FoIP networks provide the flexibility to route traffic via fully functional nodes even if part of the network is down. A single fax server, or multiple load balanced redundant servers can be installed on multiple network nodes effectively eliminating the risk that the fax server will be without access to the network. This is critical where fax is the method of delivery for vital health or natural disaster alerts.
- Least cost routing: Using the gateways installed at remote locations as part of the FoIP network, companies can route calls and faxes across their WAN so avoiding any long distance call charges even if the fax is sent across the world. This also allows the business to improve customer service by using local fax numbers in each country.
- Enhanced business productivity: Fax server technology sits at the heart of the communications infrastructure and can be used to enhance a company’s ability to streamline business process automation and improve document management. Investment in FoIP solutions provides an opportunity to integrate communications and document management more fully into corporate workflows.
- Virtualization: New virtualization software technologies are becoming increasingly popular as organizations seek to improve efficiency and consolidate hardware resources. Software only FoIP solutions that are compliant with leading manufacturers of virtualization software, such as Lane’s Passport Fax Server, can co-exist in a virtualized environment. FoIP: Is it right for your organisation? Although FoIP has the potential to deliver many benefits it is not always the appropriate solution for every network and care must be taken in choosing whether to deploy a traditional PSTN fax platform or an IP solution. The starting point for an evaluation must be to consider the topology of the existing network to determine those parts, if any, that may already be equipped to support an IP fax environment. Having mapped out the existing network it must then be decided what other equipment must be deployed in the enterprise, in addition to the fax server, to complete your IP fax implementation.