03 May Appliances … Appliances!
What’s going on? Suddenly, is seems that nearly all of our enterprise-fax OEMs are using BladeWare as the platform for a new fax-server appliance. Makes a lot of sense. An “appliance” is usually intended to be a low-capacity and low–complexity and, therefore, a low-cost system that improves the productivity of the users. Since nearly all of these OEMs have traditionally targeted the large enterprise, these small boxes are critical to their plans to broaden their addressable market to include the small-medium enterprise (SME), which has simply been inaccessible due to their multi-line fax-board costs. But the times…they are a’changin’.
Our OEMs know that for every Fortune 1000 company there are 1,000 smaller companies that have in-place IT infrastructure and still have no computer-based fax. And it is those companies that could benefit from computer-based fax the most. The small business usually has few administrative employees. So, for example, the CEO sends his own fax and checks the fax machine himself to see if that important PO or contract has arrived. Send a fax? First print the document, then compose and print a cover page. Go to the printer, pick up the two printouts, go to the fax machine, key in the destination number. No fax answer; it’s the recipient’s voice number. Back to the office to look up the correct number, and so on. Fifteen minutes wasted.
The ability of a computer-based fax server to turn this time sink into a one-minute exercise is well documented. No printouts are required. (Save a tree!) Typically, no cover page needs to be filled in manually since the recipient is already in the server’s phone book. Inbound faxes are announced with a pop-up, end up in the recipient’s inbox, and don’t need to be printed.
Okay, the opportunity is there, how do we access it? Certainly, Internet-based fax services is one way. This is typically used in addition to the trusty ol’ standard fax machine. Another is for the fax-server function to “hitch a ride” on an IP PBX sale and installation, with the PBX deal effectively subsuming the sales and installation costs of the fax server. Another would be for the user to order the software on-line and self install the server. And, since IP makes physical location less-and-less important, hosted fax services, where all that must be done is to configure the users, is an increasingly attractive alternative. And, of course, there is the “appliance.”
So, what makes an appliance an appliance? Well, most people equate appliance with low acquisition cost and easy installation. But, you may ask, “How do I configure a low-cost system when I’m paying over $400 for a single fax send-receive channel.” Ahem! Consider using a vendor that offers superior function, performance, scalability, and configurability, but at one-third the cost. That’s how.
Develop one adapter/connector for BladeWare and you’re done. The same adapter is good for PSTN or IP connectivity and on the same system at the same time and with the same application. Oh, yes, when you want to use the same little box for your PSTN-capable appliance as you used for the all-software FoIP version, BladeWare’s MSP boards require only 2U rack space for both PCI and PCI Express. And, since BladeWare scales to over 120 ports on one server, and is seamlessly scalable well beyond that by adding more processor blades (that’s where we got the name), it’s just as good for the large enterprise as for the SME.
Is that cool, or what?
Wait! There’s more: We’ve teamed with Intel and Win Enterprises to offer a proof-of-concept (POC) system based on what Intel calls “Delray Beach” and BladeWare with optional PSTN boards pre-installed. This Intel “market-enabling reference design” is specifically focused on telephony-appliance applications. It features Intel’s low-cost high-value Atom processor. To support most POC requirements, the box includes a wide array of features: Ethernet connections for the wide area and 10 ports for connecting IP phones. Two POTS interfaces are included, as is a 160-Gig HDD and a compact-flash slot. Commetrex will deliver the box with BladeWare and telephony-interface boards pre-installed.
So, if you are interested in exploring the fax-appliance option, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.