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Zetafax FOIP

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Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP)

More and more organizations are looking to integrate their communications infrastructure into an Internet Protocol (IP) network, by moving to a Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system (or IP-PBX).  However, many companies limit the move to voice, and overlook the possibilities that Fax over IP (FoIP) can bring.

What is FoIP?

FoIP allows data to be transmitted via the IP network.  This removes the need for hardware such as fax boards which, in turn allows you to virtualize your fax server with other IT systems.  In addition, FoIP enables you to integrate your fax sever with an IP phone system (or IP-PBX) which removes the need for independent fax lines altogether.

FoIP can therefore bring both lower operating costs now, and lower hardware costs in the future.  It can also improve your disaster recovery processes, improve fax server reliability and, because there's no need for the server to connect to a physical phone line, you can locate your fax server almost anywhere you like.

FoIP with Zetafax

The Zetafax FoIP Connector supports Unified Messaging by centralizing fax and voice services alongside email to reduce cost and maximize employee productivity. 

Zetafax fax virtualization software


What is server virtualization?


zetafax vmwareServer virtualization is the term used for the method of running multiple independent applications or operating systems on a single physical machine. It is used as a means of enhancing physical resources to maximize the investment in hardware, where the server administrator uses a software application to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments.

Server virtualization brings the possibility of sharing hardware between multiple server applications, with each application believing it is running on its own computer with no risk of one application causing another to fail. Disk intensive applications can be matched with CPU heavy ones in order to get the maximum out of each piece of server hardware.

Zetafax's fax virtualization software supports VMware (ESX and ESXi), which can be seen illustrated in the diagram to the right hand side. Zetafax also supports the vSphere Suite and Microsoft Hyper-V.


How fax virtualization works


In a virtualized environment, server applications and their virtualized operating systems access the underlying hardware through a virtualization layer. Communications hardware (such as a fax board) is typically not supported in this virtualized world, and so any server application  that needs to use such hardware requires an alternative approach - this obstacle often results in fax servers being maintained separately from an organisation's virtualized environment. With Fax Over IP (FoIP) this is no longer necessary. Below is an example illustration on how FoIP works:



zetafax virtual 2


Fax servers can be deployed in several ways. A common configuration is to connect the fax server directly to the PSTN through an analog or digital (ISDN) telephone line. This is done using fax hardware such as an intelligent fax board, ISDN controller or modem. This is a common setup in smaller organizations, where the fax server simply replaces one or more stand-alone fax machines.



In a virtualized environment, the server applications and their virtualized operating systems access the underlying hardware through a virtualization layer. As communications hardware is typically not supported in this virtualized world, this environment can prove problematic for fax software.


Fax over Internet Protocol



zetafax virtual 1 (FoIP) allows faxes to be transmitted using the IP connection rather than the physical hardware. A software-only device can therefore be implemented on the fax server, which typically integrates with an IP gateway on the network. The gateway is a device, similar to a router, that converts FoIP signals coming from the fax server to fax signals (squeaks) that are transmitted over the PSTN or telephone network. 

Zetafax | Server Virtualization Diagram

Technical diagram

Zetafax virtual

The above diagram shows a typical example of a Zetafax server operating in a virtualized environment, communicating via Fax over IP (FoIP). IP-based communication is available to programs running in a virtualized environment, so email servers usually operate without change – though you will need to check the compatibility of your email server with the virtualized server product you have chosen. However, fax servers cannot access fax boards from their virtualized environment, and it is best to switch to using Fax over IP (FoIP) so that the IP connection can be used instead. This brings with it a need to use alternative hardware to connect to the telephone network (PSTN): typically a FoIP-capable internet gateway or IP-based telephone switch (PBX).