In an age of smartphone apps, cloud services and chat bots, the fax seems to be an anachronism. Despite how far IT has advanced with digital and cloud environments, the trusty fax persists. The modern commercial fax machine dates back to the mid-1960s—more than 50 years! Organizations continue to rely on it today as a primary method of sending and receiving essential documents like invoices and purchase orders.
We get it: some kinds of change are hard, and some are unnecessary. When you’re communicating with a diverse network of suppliers, partners and customers, why alter well-established standardized processes?
It comes back to the old nugget, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The concept and utility of the fax is not broken. It’s just that many of the systems and processes both upstream and downstream of fax transmissions have evolved. And so the fax adapts—or more to the point, IT adapts to integrate with the fax.
VSI-FAX and Hosted P21
A lot of organizations rely on VSI-FAX to integrate with P21. Technically, this fax server software still works well if P21 is in a virtualized or hosted environment. However, faxes need an analog line and a modem. From a practical perspective, running a separate analog line into a hosted data center like the one Echopath uses just isn’t going to happen.
So how do we make sure customers that host their P21 systems with us can keep using VSI-FAX and their dependable fax processes?
The Virtual-to-Analog Conversion
We have had a lot of success with Digi, a Minnesota-based global leader in machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity products. One of those products is the Digi One SP compact serial server.
This device connects any type of serial device, including fax modems, to a company Ethernet by assigning it an IP address, which we input as the fax server as part of configuring P21. When our customer hits “fax” from P21, or any other software integrated with VSI-FAX, the virtual fax server processes the request and maps to that IP address on the digital port and sends it via the modem on the analog line.
Even though P21 and VSI-FAX are hosted in our data center, this simple solution allows customers to virtualize the entire process, routing faxes to and from that modem on the same analog line that they control at their company offices.
Just the Fax, Ma’am
At some point, we assume the fax will finally become displaced by other technology. Until that time, we will keep adapting IT systems to accommodate what for many organizations continues to be a reliable means of communication.