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A Deep Dive - 3 Enterprise Fax Models and their Pros and Cons | eFax Corporate  

Jan 30, 2018 - by eFax Corporate Team

Relative to the many demands on today’s IT teams, spending capital, time and resources to maintain physical fax servers and infrastructure is not a high priority. But fax capability remains a business need because many established industries — such as legal, healthcare, financial services and manufacturing — are dependent on the security, reliability and process integration of their fax infrastructure.

Many of these organisations are facing some critical questions:

  • Is the business realising maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness from your fax server solution?
  • If fax servers are at end of life, does it make sense to re-invest in building out a replacement?
  • Are there better, more cost-effective options available today?

The 3 Common Enterprise Fax Models

centralise fax management

1.The “Private Cloud”

In the case of “Private Cloud” faxing, a company’s fax infrastructure is maintained entirely within its firewall. In this model, whether the business maintains a fax server in-house or a fax server running on a virtual machine, the IT group owns primary responsibility for maintaining, licensing, troubleshooting and upgrading this business’s fax infrastructure.

Pros

  • This method gives IT direct, centralised control over the fax infrastructure company-wide, a huge improvement over the de-centralised and harder- to-manage infrastructure built solely on desktop fax machines.
  • IT departments might feel more comfortable, from a security standpoint, when their faxes all run through a centralised, internally controlled platform within the network. Again, this represents an improvement over the unsecure desktop fax machine — where documents can be lost, viewed or picked up by an employee not authorised to read them.
  • A hardware-based, onsite fax or software-based private cloud infrastructure requires significant upfront capital cost that can be amortised over many years.

Cons

  • Compared to other technologies, the on-premises server model can be cost-prohibitive for many firms. In addition to thousands of pounds upfront for every fax server, the infrastructure demands many less obvious costs — such as the fax cards to PSTN interface, and recurring costs such as software licensing, analogue fax lines, and even electricity costs to maintain the servers themselves.
  • To prevent unnecessary spend while not jeopardising critical needs, IT must accurately predict long-term volume and capacity needs at the outset and on an ongoing basis — such as monitoring usage trends and knowing when to scale up with more servers or upgrading to the latest server software versions, neither of which can be implemented quickly.

2. The “Hybrid Cloud” Fax Solution

In theory, the Hybrid Cloud model for enterprise faxing combines the best of both worlds — allowing IT to maintain control through on-premises fax servers, but also using a cloud-based “backfill” component, for example, for failover, should your onsite fax infrastructure fail or have peak volume spikes, resulting in outages or busy signals. This is, by definition, a compromise from an economic and productivity perspective.

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Pros

  • Hybrid Cloud faxing provides IT onsite control and visibility over its faxes company-wide, with on premises fax servers, while also allowing them to realise some of the advantages of a fax cloud service — like greater redundancy and higher system availability than their in-house fax servers alone might provide.
  • Like the Private Cloud (on-premises-only) model, the Hybrid Cloud infrastructure also leverages an enterprise’s existing, paid-for hardware.

Cons

  • The major weakness of the Hybrid model is that it might put an organisation in a position of double-paying for a single solution — the cloud component— that the business could outsource completely (with a true Cloud Fax model). That is, the business must continue to support its onsite fax server (remember all of those not-so-obvious costs, like maintenance agreements, dedicated fax lines, fax cards, and server farm electricity?) for a service it could fully outsource to the cloud for far less money.
  • The onsite server component of this model may increase risks of non-compliance or undermine the business’s fax security — because the fax servers may house protected information, potentially exposing vulnerabilities in security and fax “chain of custody”, if not properly secured.
  • Finally, from a performance perspective, could your enterprise reap the same high availability, redundancy, scalability and fail-over features from a completely hosted solution vs. the ‘Hybrid’ approach? If so, could outsourcing also relieve your business or IT organisation of its existing fax infrastructure and maintenance burden so that they can focus on revenue-generating IT projects?
Boost productivity

3. The “Cloud Fax” Solution

A Cloud Fax model is, technologically speaking, the most advanced enterprise fax solution — fully hosted offsite and requiring only an email address and Internet connection to send and receive faxes. The Cloud Fax model can provide many of the control and customisation features of both “Hybrid” and “Private” fax solutions — such as integration into Multifunction Printers and workflow integration – such as SAP or Electronic Patient Records systems with flexible APIs and enhanced Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect sensitive data. Additionally, with the right vendor, the Cloud Fax model can provide rapid scaling ability — essentially a pay-as-you-go model.

Pros

  • Cloud Faxing represents a significant cost savings over the onsite-server model. It frees up IT resources to focus on higher-ROI projects, and enables your organisation to retire onsite fax hardware and eliminate licensing, telco lines and the related costs outlined earlier.
  • Because the service is cloud-based, a business can increase fax capacity quickly, cost-effectively, and at any time — it is essentially a “pay-as-you- go” model, as opposed to a server-based system where the choices are the binary “buy another fax server now,” or “don’t buy it now, and risk capacity — and business impacting — issues.”
  • A Cloud Fax solution can also increase fax security. The best-in-class online fax companies protect faxes using the most sophisticated methodologies — such as TLS encryption for transmitting faxes over the Internet, and they may also have “Heavy” Tier III and IV secure data centres, the best of which maintain SOC 2 or SSAE 16 Certifications to ensure customer data is protected 24/7/365 when in storage.

Cons

  • There are many options out there for Cloud Fax providers, and choosing the wrong partner can undermine the ability to realise all of the benefits of a Cloud Fax solution that drove the outsourcing decision in the first place. For example, a company that cannot support the needed fax capacity, or offer 24/7 support, or provide highly secure data centres and full infrastructure redundancy, or does not fully understand how to keep a business’s faxes secure and on the right side of federal regulators.
  • Fundamentally, a business should expect to receive equal or better value when outsourcing a core service to a third-party vendor. This is especially true when one considers Service Level Agreements (SLAs), reliability, security, scalability and integration. Skimping here exposes one to serious risk in the long term.

The key to your success, if outsourcing is the right call for your enterprise, is to ask the right questions and select the right cloud fax provider.

We’ve helped hundreds of large enterprises transition from fax servers to a cloud fax model. Talk to us about your needs today.