You may be familiar with the concept of virtualizing business applications, but did you know that you can also virtualize your fax server? Fax server virtualization offers an entire host of benefits (you can read more about those benefits here). It’s easy to deploy, but the specifics of how it works remain a mystery to some. If that describes you, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a brief overview of how fax virtualization works and how it can be deployed at your business.
Fax Server Virtualization Basics
Virtualization allows you to consolidate multiple physical machines onto a single server, significantly reducing your IT infrastructure size and costs. It also creates a simpler, more streamlined fax solution for your organization.
Virtualization requires some type of VM (virtual machine) software and single physical server that can run the software and handle the consolidation.
The Layers of Virtualization
There are four layers of a virtual server:
- Hypervisor Layer: the application platform that is installed on the operating system. It is responsible for the creation and management of the virtual machine.
- Virtual Machine Layer: the virtual machine itself. It is created by the hypervisor platform and represented by a virtual hard disk file.
- Operating System Layer: the Windows Server operating system that exists within the virtual machine. This is where the actual fax server is installed.
- Application Layer: this represents the OpenText fax server installation that is on the Windows Server virtual machine, which is the actual operating system layer.
How it All Works
Server consolidation and virtualization is made possible by virtual hard disks. These disks (.VHD, .VMDK, etc.) emulate a physical hard disk and contain everything that would normally be stored on it. Instead of taking up physical space, the hard disk exits in a virtual space and behaves just like a normal server. Your fax server will continue to operate normally and will be compatible with all the same third-party applications.
The one caveat: virtualized fax servers do not contain fax board hardware. Instead of using a fax board, sending and receiving fax documents requires FoIP (T.38 is recommended) or dialing rules that route faxes to and from the physical fax server. It is recommended that you dedicate a virtual machine to every fax server you have in order to maintain performance.
How to Deploy it at Your Organization
There are three virtualization scenarios that can be set up at your organization:
- Simple Concept: a virtualized IP-based fax server deployment that uses real-time software-based FoIP. This is achieved with SR140/RightFax OEM channels and a fax gateway. A virtual SQL server is used to store the server database while another virtual machine houses the fax server images and files.
- Shared Services Model: fax servers all share a single SQL database and a fax data repository via the high-availability architecture that is facilitated by the RightFax Shared Services Module. These collectives support virtual SQL servers and some storage options (SAN and NAS).
- Hybrid Model: a mixed virtual and hardware-based environment that consists of a virtualized Shared Services collective and a chassis-based Remote Doc Transport server that contains a legacy fax board. Each of the virtual servers can be configured to use the legacy system, FoIP gateway, or both. You can also use this setup with a traditional Fax Server that does or doesn’t contain a fax board.