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July 31, 2008

Integrating FoIP and Unified Communications with XMediusFAX

By Michelle Robart, TMCnet Editor

They may call it “survival of the fittest”, but in today’s global business world, “survival of the techy-est” hits closer to home. More and more companies are relying on unified communications (UC) to change the way individuals, groups and organizations communicate and work together. Based on open platforms, unified communications link numerous communication technologies over an IP network, helping companies maintain a high level of productivity and efficiency in order to ensure their survival and success.
Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), e-mail, audio-, video- and Web-conferencing, voicemail, instant messaging (IM), and unified messaging are just some of the key UC technologies used today.
Unified communications condenses these technologies into a seamless experience with one login, one address book and one inbox. These are then integrated into familiar applications such as Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook, Office and SharePoint.
By combining these technologies and blending them seamlessly into applications people use every day, computers are transformed from personal productivity tools to communication and collaboration tools.
One fundamental way unified communications helps simplify business operations is seen with Internet faxing, or Fax over IP (FoIP).
Created by industry leading fax server solutions provider, Sagem-Interstar (News - Alert), XMediusFAX is a highly cost effective, secure, and reliable IP fax server solution that has dominated the global FoIP market since its introduction in 2002. As an advanced FoIP solution, XMediusFAX is a vital and cost-effective part of a complete UC strategy
Even as technology advances, the traditional fax machine still appears in many modern offices. Faxing is still one of the preferred methods for transmitting documents because it is a legally binding means of fast, low-cost and secure document transfer.
However, using these “old fashioned” fax methods means that businesses must maintain separate analog communications overhead, while all other communications flow across cost efficient and flexible IP networks. This is a common challenge in UC environments.
Too often the fax infrastructure comprises costly dedicated POTS lines or analog extensions with adapters, defeating the purpose of convergence and UC in itself. And worse, this infrastructure does not transmit fax documents when and where employees need them, lowering productivity and leaving fax services outside electronic document management systems and hence, risking regulatory compliance.
In IP-based converged networks, boardless (software-only) FoIP solutions, such as those enabled by XMediusFAX, are the remedy for the UC “fax problem”. FoIP leverages the ITU’s T.38 real-time IP fax protocol. This is already supported by many leading media gateway and UC vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, IBM, Nortel (News - Alert), 3Com, AudioCodes and Alcatel-Lucent.
Boardless FoIP solutions, in particular, offer numerous benefits. With FoIP solutions like XMediusFAX, companies will benefit from enhanced employee productivity; no more waiting for a fax to transmit. Faxes can be sent and received via e-mail, Web browser, or from their ERP/CRM desktop applications.
XMediusFAX also increases employee productivity by up to 90 percent, providing additional cost benefits. By fully enabling an organization’s faxing requirements with their existing e-mail/voicemail systems to provide a unified messaging environment, its bottom line can be improved through compelling cost savings. By extending XMediusFAX features to an organization’s mobile workforce, productivity is further increased.
Another benefit of XMediusFAX is real-time fax delivery anytime, anywhere to support business workflow and collaboration. FoIP solutions will also provide significant cost savings by eliminating the need for fax lines, fax boards, fax machines, hardware, maintenance fees and supplies. Users are also able to securely archive all incoming and outgoing faxes for future reference and easy retrieval.
Some of the other benefits of FoIP solutions, such as XMediusFAX, include:
  • Security and privacy protection for confidential documents.
  • Streamlined administration.
  • Centralization of all fax transmissions, leveraging existing UC components.
  • Solid fit for virtualization strategies because boardless FoIP solutions enable IT staff to efficiently combine and manage common resources for diverse applications, further enhancing UC deployments.
When planning a UC strategy for your company, be sure to include faxing over IP in your considerations. FoIP is one more way to ensure your company has seamless communication technologies in place to enhance collaboration and reduce costs.
Michelle Robart is a Contributing Editor at TMCnet. To read more of her articles please visit her columnist page.

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