IP Fax Servers - High Interest Level at Australian Networkers

On the last day of Cisco Networkers Australia, I gave a presentation titled "Understanding, Implementing, and Troubleshooting Fax Communications." Of all the sections in my presentation, the one that drew the most questions afterwards and appeared to have the most interest to the attendees was the section on fax servers. Not surprisingly, this interest in fax servers in Australia parallels the same interest that I see in the US and Europe. Fax server solutions allow an organization to centralize their fax communications and provide users the ability to access their faxes through a variety of methods, including email, web browsers, and MFPs (Multi-Function Peripherals) that combine faxing with copying and printing. In addition to numerous other benefits, fax servers also allow faxing to be automated with business workflow processes and helps companies in complying with federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA. While fax servers with traditional telephony fax boards have always been a compelling solution for many businesses where faxing is critical, it is only within the last few years that I see customers in large numbers deploying IP-based fax servers. Additionally, customers that may not have had an interest in traditional fax servers with PSTN connections are often interested in IP-based fax servers. I believe that this is part of the trend where most organizations that have dedicated VoIP solutions using an IP-based PBX product like Cisco Unified Communications Manager, are looking for a similar solution for their fax communications. IP-based fax servers provide this solution and neatly integrate an organization's fax communications into their Unified Communications environment. As a point of reference, about 3-4 years ago only about 10-20% of the FoIP implementations that I was involved with from a design or troubleshooting standpoint involved fax servers. Today, I would venture that well over half the time I work on FoIP with a Cisco customer, a fax server is involved. Additionally, I spend a large amount of time working directly with Cisco fax server partners on integration solutions and troubleshooting some of their customer issues. The interest in IP-based fax servers appears to be increasing and anyone implementing an IP-based fax solution would be wise to take a look at some of the many fax server solutions that are offered today. -David

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