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Life left in (managed) fax

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Many believe the fax is a dead technology, but ANDY CLAUSEN of Dimension Data argues that there are still many instances where fax is preferred over e-mail or other communications technology.

The concept of fax to many businesses may seem archaic, with some questioning its viability and future usage. Some have claimed that fax is destined to the same fate as portable CD players, the Telex and the humble dodo.

Despite the fact that fax may have become a less relevant technology than it once was, what’s important to note is that fax is not dead: not even close. Fax is the only means of communication that is able to provide real-time document delivery, secure point-to-point transfer, and be time and date stamped.

In a recent commissioned unified communication study by BMI-T of 484 companies with more than 200 employees, it was found that fax is still one of the three most important aspects of unified communications for most businesses. Further to this, Cisco and Microsoft announced a change in strategyregarding the distribution and preference for fax server technology to Open Text RightFax, which also provides interoperability with Exchange Server 2010 and other technology platforms.

There are numerous instances in which fax is preferred over e-mail or other communication, especially as more businesses begin to embrace the benefits of converged communications.

The demise of fax technology has been predicted for more than a decade. Yet, in 2011, fax is still relied upon for mission-critical business processes, secure transmissions, legal signatures and compliance for organisations of varying sizes. Fax technology is very different than it was 15 years ago. Today, fax is paperless, instant, always on, secure and offers compliance benefits such as authentication, management control, archiving and retrieval. When it comes to information-sensitive documents, fax delivers in real time with a full audit trail.

What many organisations don’t realise is that fax technology can be integrated with a myriad back-end and production applications. Fax technology should be a strategic part of virtualisation, consolidation and more intelligent document management, encompassing document capture and business process automation.

A fax server is an application similar to an e-mail server that allows applications, users and multi-function printers and devices to send and receive documents as secure images, while centralising control, security and compliance. A fax server connects to an IP gateway or PBX, which delivers the fax via a telco line or LAN in a point-to-point, real-time, secure transmission.

The growth of cloud-based services is driving the demand for hosted fax solutions, which is a key area where a Managed Fax Solution comes into play. Whether on-site or in a public cloud, the fax environment can be fully virtualised and can leverage Voice over IP (VoIP) infrastructure for Fax over IP (FoIP) transmission. This proves to be cost effective, efficient and in line with most organisations’ IT strategies.

A Managed Fax Solution can be delivered in one of two ways: either a privately-owned solution, or as a hosted solution delivered as a cloud service. Both instances offer different levels of administration, including full management, service levels, remote monitoring as well as needs assessments and fax traffic expense management, ensuring not only less headache, but cost savings too.

With numerous organisations having lost track of their fax environments and costs spiralling out of control, a Managed Fax Solution will ensure that this area of communication and document delivery remains a key component of converged communications without the associated pain points experienced by most organisations today.

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