An enterprise-level fax server with client software for sharing fax services through a network

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 5, 2002

It's easy to label a product scalable, but it's not always so easy to back that claim up. In the case of Esker, Inc.'s Faxgate, the label "enterprise fax connection" sticks because of the range of features offered in three configurations: Workgroup, Enterprise, and Production. From basic fax services to advanced routing, load balancing, and document recognition, this is one of the best and most complete fax server systems available for the Windows NT or Windows 2000 platform.

In the case of Esker, Inc.

The installation of a full-scale fax/message system (including fax board, e-mail, user control, printing, and network connection) is rarely a trouble-free task. This is usually not the fault of the fax server product, but rather is due to the general complexity of hardware and software components. Thus, we were honestly surprised when we were able to configure Faxgate with the Brooktrout Technology TR114 Series fax board (which is fully documented, screen shots and all, in the Faxgate manual) without a hitch. However, one of the reasons to choose a product from an established vendor like Esker is for the support the company can provide. This is especially key when implementing a product in a complex enterprise environment.

Another plus for Faxgate is the variety of "connector" add-ons including: Microsoft Exchange Connector, ERP Connector for SAP, SNA Link, AFP Link, and TCP/IP Link. Faxgate Administrator ties the Faxgate services into a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) module to provide system management. On the Windows platform this is becoming the standard approach, and its familiarity should help simplify managing the fax system.

The most striking new feature in Faxgate 7.0 is general document recognition (GDR), a process that can read data streams (print, document, and images) from a wide variety of sources — especially from legacy systems — and determine if they are to be processed for faxing. This eliminates the need to code or convert the streams in their source application (i.e., no new code or code modifications). In other words, it's far less expensive to have Faxgate do the detection and conversion than to rework old applications.

Faxgate is sold in three versions: Workgroup (with LAN fax client, Thin Client, Universal Mail Connection, and Faxgate Administration Client); Enterprise (everything in the Workgroup version as well as Microsoft Exchange Connection, Lotus Notes Gateway, and Intrafax Web Client); and Production (all components of the Enterprise version as well as Advanced Inbound Routing, General Document Recognition, Least Cost Routing/Load Balancing, and Forms Merge). Faxgate's pricing starts at $1,295.

Esker's smorgasbord approach to pricing can make Faxgate seem relatively expensive, but when one does the math for return on investment or compares features with other systems, the pricing will likely seem reasonable. Among the few good fax servers on the market, Faxgate stands out as the most complete for enterprise-level fax automation and is a good bet for any company.

Pros: 7 Wide range of features, including advanced routing/load balancing and document recognition, 7 Works with many platforms and data sources

Cons: 7 Is less easily customizable or programmable than some systems

Version Reviewed: 7.0
Reviewed by: Nelson King
Last Updated: 5/24/00
Date of Original Review: 5/24/00

Operating Systems / Latest Versions: Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000

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