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August 13, 2009

Labatt Food Service Sees Rapid ROI, Reduced TCO, After Deploying Sagem-Interstar IP Fax Solution

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

Food distributor Labatt Food Service is one of the latest companies to discover the benefits of migrating to IP fax.

The company recently decided to deploy Sagem-Interstar’s (News - Alert) XMediusFAX fax serv­er solution – a “boardless” IP fax solution which is ideal for companies that have deployed Cisco (News - Alert) IP infrastructure – as it was experiencing some of the many problems associated with traditional fax, including analog lines locking up, handshaking failures with particu­lar devices, and looped behavior causing fax blasts to a particular destination due to incorrect SMTP configurations.

This was no longer tolerable, as fax plays an integral role in the company’s operations. More than 20 percent of the company’s 1,250 employees use fax services – and it sends/receives about 350 faxes per day (about 200 sent and about 150 received). Depending on the amount of activity, this can spike to more than 600 faxes per day.

Previously Labatt Food Service’s faxing infrastructure consisted of 16 analog lines running off a VG224 controller on Cisco’s Call Manager 4.2 connected to a RocketModem in an IBM (News - Alert) server. The company used GFI FaxMaker to send and receive faxes, where each port was reserved for spe­cific use to either send, receive, or send/receive. Every depart­ment was setup with one line (few roll-over lines) which limited the system’s functionality, often resulting in busy signals.
After shopping around for an IP fax solution, Labatt Food Service decided to deploy an 8-channel XMediusFAX Enterprise edition fax server solution. The system was configured to run in a VMware virtualized environment with Windows 2003 Server, and H.323 integrated with Cisco’s Unified Communications (News - Alert) Manager 6.1, to send and receive faxes across eight cities to a combination of H.323 and MGCP controlled gateways.

The move has more than paid off: By migrating to the XMediusFAX Enterprise edition, Labatt Food Service has gained new efficiencies which simply are not possible with traditional fax. For one thing, employees don’t need to get up and down from their desks in order to send and receive faxes – with IP fax, all documents arrive as email attachments in users’ email inboxes. However, unlike traditional email, these messages are secure and verifiable. This helps save time and boost employee productivity.

In addition, the system allows company employees to send and receive faxes simultaneously. That means employees no longer need to “line up” at the fax machine to send and receive documents.

Another huge advantage is the fact that the company is saving on paper and ink costs. With IP fax, only those documents which must be printed are printed – there is no wasted paper. In this regard IP fax is a true “green” business solution.
Another benefit of having a completely software-based IP fax server is that it is highly scalable. By simply licensing extra channels, the company can address evolving fax traffic growth without the need to purchase any hardware.

And yet another advantage is that the company has the option of gaining full redundancy for its fax system: It can simply link the system to a secure server somewhere off-site (such as in a third party provider’s data center) and have full active/passive redundancy for all IP faxes sent and received.

What’s more the company has the ability to gather performance monitoring statistics to tie into a third party application. The systems’ reporting mechanism allows managers and supervisors to track employee productivity.
All of this equates to increased ROI on the company’s investment in IP architecture as well as reduced total cost of ownership.
“We have used the XMediusFAX solution for less than a year and have seen a clear improvement in our fax­ing operations,” said Logan Ramirez,
network systems manager at Labatt Food Service. “Deploying the product was straight for­ward and coupled with our knowledgeable staff we were able to seamlessly integrate XMediusFAX with our existing fax automation and directly with our Unified Communi­cations platform in less than a week.”

Ramirez added that XMediusFAX’s intui­tive interface made configura­tion fairly simple.

“Sagem-Interstar’s first-rate support team has worked diligently to resolve any technical concerns that arose post deployment,” he said. “Our annual savings -- once fully deployed in all offices -- is around $25,000; paying back the startup cost in less than a year.”
Privately-owned Labatt Food Service distrib­utes food and related products to food-away-from-home estab­lishments in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico from four dis­tribution centers located in San Antonio, Dallas, Lubbock and Houston. From its seven sales offices, the company continues to grow its custom­er base of over 5,000 custom­ers, which include restaurants, hotels, schools, military bases, hospitals and independent op­erators.

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Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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