Anders_Gregerse
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Fax hardware for vm's?

Have anyone found a solution for running fax software in a vm and fax hardware on the network? Currently I can only find some ISDN pci cards and that doesn't work with a vm. I hope that a solution like AnywhereUSB for usb devices is out there just for faxing.

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14 Replies
MA_Husyk
Contributor
Contributor

You could use good old COM Modems even COM ISDN Modems would help you

kharbin
Commander
Commander

COM modems work great, and unlike PCI modems, when a COM modem locks, you cycle its power. When a PCI modem locks, you cycle the whole host. Not a good thing on an ESX host.

acr
Champion
Champion

I believe GFi do an IP Based solution..

http://www.gfi.com/

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Anders_Gregerse
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

GFI has IP based software, but requires a PBX or some other hardware device to manage fax calls.

It seems that there currently aren't any available product for virtualization other than traditionel serial attached solutions (modems) that can be connected by tcp/ip

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Nementis
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I strongly suggest the IP based soluton.... better if using an ethernet connection over optical fibers, yes it requires some additional hardware but it decouples your ESX server from the phone lines (something you still have to consider with COM modems).

Think at what could happen if, during a thunderstorm, lighting hits the phone line where the modem is connected... it can blew up your ESX server!

And don't tell me the chances are low.. it has already happened.. Smiley Sad

regards,

Antonello

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frank_wegner
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

Another reason to use IP based solutions and decouple fax modems from the host a VM runs on is that they make moving VMs around (VMotion) a lot harder if not impossible.

Frank.

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FredPeterson
Expert
Expert

Agreed.

We are using RightFax from Captaris in this same setup. We have the Fax Work Server in a VM and the two remote board servers are stand alone physicals with the full length PCI card. We went with this option because it provided a good measure of redundancy in the critical patient care setup of pharmacy prescription transmission in both the front end and back end aspects.

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anders_uk
Contributor
Contributor

We are about to try GFI Faxmaker with Eicon Diva Soft IP on an ESX 3 VM, coupled to Cisco CM.

I'll keep you posted on whether it works!!

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Virtual_Scott
Contributor
Contributor

We are in the process of getting two PowerEdge 2900's and had planned on putting in a Brooktrout fax card in each. We have RightFax to send scripts to pharmacies. If we run Rightfax on a VM, does anyone know if their is a problem with using one or both fax boards and then if a PE2900 fails everything will still works because one of the fax board resources is still available.

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Mork
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

If you're using ESX, the fax cards will not work at all.

VMware ESX server has no support for devices such as fax cards, which is why our fax servers are remaining as physical servers.

As far as VMware Server goes, I would imagine the same issue would apply.

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kbk00
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Here's a good post on the very question you're posing:

http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=396541&#396541

It deals with VMware Server (GSX) but it still holds. Basically, with an internal card, you're SOL.

Here's a clip from that posting that sums up the issue pretty well (thanks FP@PM!):

"The concept of a hosted virtual machine is that the vserver can be moved to any host server and work. Any device on the host must be seen by the host and must have a VMware virtual counterpart. So yes your host will see you Fax Card but a virtual server on that host will only see a serial port. So if your software on the virtual server can make use of a comm port the application will work, but if it need the drivers of the card to function then it will not."

If you found this posting to be useful, great. I didn't waste your time.
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scolombo
Contributor
Contributor

Hi ,

I'm interested in your test , can you provide more details ?

I understand you'll install GFI Faxmaker on a VM and use a fax board on a different physical server equipped with EICON SOFT IP , am I right ?

How it worked ?

Thanks

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anders_uk
Contributor
Contributor

With Eicon Diva soft IP you don't need any fax hardware what so ever!

We've got the server talking directly to the Cisco Voice Router which is connected to an ISDN line (we found it easier not to configure Call Manager) so in theroy VMotion should work.

The software was just over £400 for 2 lines and we're just about to pilot with the first 10 users. Adding more lines is just a software upgrade.

One thing worth mentioning is that Eicon Diva Soft IP looks like it comes with a USB dongle if you read some manuals but it doesn't.

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jozsef
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi Anders

We currently have Rightfax Server running in a VM using the SR140 software fax cards from Cantata - yes they are just software, nothing physical at all.

These cards support SIP and H323 so they can connect directly over the LAN to your companies IP PBX. The run perfectly over VoIP networks using the T.38 IP fax protocol.

In other words your whole fax solution is virtual and there are no hardware requirements. I would suggest Rightfax as they are the market leaders in fax and I can testify that it works well.

One downside is the support of IP PBX that support the T.38 protocol and configuring these settings to talk to the fax cards.

The software cards SR140 are still reasonably new on the market so most teleco engineers dont know how to configure the settings, or the IP PBX does not support the T.38 protocol yet. I do know Cisco pbx work last time I checked and a few other larger well known systems.

IF you have a smaller unknown PBX you can use a Dialogic gateway(converts T.30 traffic to T.38) between the two systems to allow them to talk. SR140 Fax card ports are scalable up to 60 channels so it can handle some serious traffic.

Here is a link for more info on SR140: .pdf

(Note that Cantata are the defacto std in fax boards and thus if you use their cards you are pretty much guaranteed that almost every fax machine will work with your fax server - no odd fax machine manufacturer tweeks that dont work properly in the real world.)

Link to the Rightfax people:

With these components you are completely virtual and can vmotion to your hearts content.

Regards

Jozsef

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