September 07, 2010
Hosted Fax Over IP Service vs. an In-House Fax Server Solution
By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives
With a new deployment such as a greenfield site, many customers debate the value of customer premise equipment (CPE) versus a hosted or managed solution. There are pros and cons for both and the line between them can get a little blurry for the uninitiated.
I recently spoke with FaxCore's Max Schroeder (News - Alert) to discuss the benefits of a hosted fax service versus an in-house fax server solution.
"For existing sites, the feature/benefit proposition gets even more blurred than for Greenfield sites. Legacy technology can be expensive to maintain and operate so retaining an existing solution may not be as inexpensive as would appear at first glance. Also, an organization may not be able to take advantage of the latest communications and workflow technologies," Schroeder said. "On the other hand, upgrading the paid-for equipment and software could be an attractive alternative. In many cases, the upgrades are free as they are included in the annual maintenance and support agreement from the manufacturer."
Certainly, managed and SaaS (News - Alert) solutions provide the cost savings associated with limiting the IT requirements for an organization and the convenience of rapid deployment. The capital investment is usually low. Long-term benefits include always having the latest application version running, a built-in business continuity architecture plus simple overall convenience. Outsourcing is a green alternative, but running a virtual CPE deployment can also reduce energy consumption, Schroeder added.
In-house systems are generally considered more secure for some types of operations but this varies greatly on the business nature of the organization and the types of applications being used.
"The upfront capital cost of CPE for a Greenfield site is usually higher but the ongoing costs can be lower," Schroeder explained. "On the other hand, this is traffic or volume dependent. Some organizations can actually lower their communications costs by using or switching to a hosted service."
At this point you may be thinking that the author is trying to create confusion instead of providing a systematic method of selection. That is definitely not the case. Just by limiting the discussion to a fax solution, the decision has already been made much simpler. It is possible, for example, to choose a solution that offers a CPE, hosted or a NEW PRODUCT hybrid fax option combining both. You can choose to run on a physical or virtual server and combine the solution with other applications like VoIP or unified communications .
"Although the choices seem a little involved, they are really quite simple if you speak to a fax sales professional with a neutral position," Schroeder added. "By that I mean someone who is both knowledgeable on CPE, hosted and hybrid solutions and can also offer to sell you any of those solutions as a direct sale or by acting as an agent for a hosted service."
Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company�s strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erin Harrison