Client/server fax server and client software for sharing services through a network

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

For organizations looking to incorporate fax capability into the communications scheme (particularly those that need to be flexible about it), one of the best choices available is VSI's VSI-FAX Network Server. This client/server (TCP/IP LAN) system centralizes and shares fax capability through a diverse mix of e-mail, Internet connections, GUI clients, and applications. Along with its flexibility, VSI-FAX offers an unusual range of integration features.

This client/server (TCP/IP LAN) system centralizes and shares fax capability through a diverse mix of e-mail, Internet connections, GUI clients, and applications.

Despite VSI-FAX Network Server's many options, the basic setup for VSI-FAX Server should present few problems. Armed with nothing more than information about attached modem or fax board devices, telephone services, and SMTP and POP3 servers, the server program and Windows clients were installed in less than an hour. However, VSI-FAX does require a relatively large amount of disk space — 100 MB. Organizations considering a VSI-FAX implementation should also be sure to check its somewhat limited list of supported modems and fax boards.

VSI-FAX Server runs on a variety of platforms, including Linux and Windows 2000. It supports automatic routing via DNIS, DID, and DTMF. Server management is particularly strong under the Management Console (Microsoft MMC) Fax Administrator; it organizes and simplifies the task of managing user profiles, licensing, directory assignments, modem and fax board configuration, and monitors server activity.

For workstations, VSI-FAX offers its own Web Fax Client operating within a browser. This is a functional, if Spartan, client. A more sophisticated fax capability is available using the VSI Outlook Fax Client, which hooks into Microsoft Outlook to send, receive, route, track, archive, print, and view faxes. This requires more effort (not to mention aggravation) to install. However, it also provides a high level of fax integration within the Outlook and Microsoft Exchange messaging systems. The server implements a print to fax capability that can be used by most applications. Fax merge operations are supported for MS Office, Lotus SmartSuite, StarOffice, and WordPerfect Office

VSI-FAX has a reputation for its integration capability, which version 4.0 continues to enhance. The battery of features for integration includes a complete SDK (Software Developer's Toolkit) with a specialized API that implements VSI-FAX functions as a COM Object, COM base status control and a print-to-fax driver. VSI also has its own XML-F DTD interface format, which can connect to XML-enabled applications, a piece that appears to be in the earlier stages of development. On a more brute-force level, VSI has a very complete command line interface, Autosend directory, and fax-to-email integration tools.

VSI-FAX is one of the most complete and flexible fax systems we have seen. Although more costly than other servers we have reviewed, VSI-FAX's level of sophistication for organizations seeking to do their own fax integration should be persuasive.

Pros: 7 Maximum flexibility and integration capability in a fax system

Cons: 7 The product's strength, customization tools and flexibility, may be overkill in some situations

Version Reviewed: 4.0.1
Reviewed by: Nelson King
Last Updated: 4/20/00
Date of Original Review: 4/20/00

Operating Systems / Latest Versions:

Windows: NT 4.0 and Windows 2000
Unix: DG, HP-UX, NCR, SCO, Solaris and AIX
Linux: Red Hat, Caldera

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