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December 10, 2009

The Complexities of Fax over IP: Fax Boards and Fax Machines
By Amy Tierney
TMCnet Web Editor

Explaining the Fax Market
Editor’s Note: Fax appears to be a simple concept. You walk up to a fax machine, scan in a document, select a fax number and send. Simple. You can even use the print function in applications like Microsoft (News - Alert) Word to choose a fax printer like FaxCore, select a phone number and fax from your desktop. Simple.  

It only seems simple because a lot of things are running in the background, which most people don’t know.   Those parts are not so simple. Today’s communications technologies also offer users many choices, including Fax over IP, FoIP, Fax Boards, Virtual Fax, Fax Services, and Customer Premise Fax, or CPE Fax.   Sometimes it can be confusing as to what type of solution combination of solutions you should implement.  
TMCnet put some questions to Max Schroeder, senior vice president of FaxCore (News - Alert), a Denver-based fax server application provider, to explain just how this entire process works. Schroeder, whose company is exhibiting next month at TMC’s (News - Alert)  ITEXPO East 2010in Miami, Fla., will be speaking at a session on “Integrating Fax into Your Enterprise UC Experience” at 3 p.m. on Jan. 21.
TMCnet: It seems there is an almost constant stream of announcements on new fax technologies. Is this a good thing, or just too much information for the market to absorb.
Max Schroeder (News - Alert): Granted, today’s telecommunications market has gotten somewhat complex but that is only because customers are demanding innovative solutions. These solutions lower company costs, improve workflow and enhance efficiency by providing users with a rich set of easy-to-use features.  
TMCnet: Why are some people saying it is confusing?
MS: New concepts and technologies are always confusing at first. What we now consider legacy communications technology was confusing when first introduced. The concept of a fax board in a fax server running applications like FaxCore was very confusing at first. Even now, some people only have a limited understanding of how they work because the user interfaces (UIs) are so simple to use. Today FoIP, converged fax, virtual fax servers, merged VoIP and FoIP and other new solutions, although very well proven, are still relatively new so many people only have a limited understanding of their full functionality.
TMCnet: Just how does an intelligent fax board like those from Brooktrout (News - Alert) work?
MS: To begin, many machines like Sharp or Fuju Xerox Multi-Function Peripherals (MFPs) that scan, print, and copy need a fax board component for faxing. Most people do not realize that aspect of these machines.   If you look at a Brooktrout fax board with four or eight ports, it is simply a board with the equivalent of four or eight fax machines running together on a board. FaxCore then manages these boards to direct outgoing faxes to the proper phone number and route incoming documents to the proper person. The Dialogic (News - Alert)/Brooktrout SR140 FoIP product line takes this a step further by running a software equivalent of a fax board as an application in a server. So now we have a software application replacing a four or eight port board that replaced four or eight fax machines. This results in a smaller office footprint, reduced power consumption, more efficiency and improved workflow. It is pretty simple, actually.
As new releases in fax technology saturate the marketplace, more and more companies are exploring its use for their business. With so many choices, companies are often confused as to what choice best suits their needs. Check back for the next segment when Schroeder talks about why all of these Fax over IP innovations are based on cost demand.

To find out more about FaxCore, visit the company at ITEXPO East 2010. Schedule for Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit FaxCore in booth #621. Don’t wait. Register now.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney


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