Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Faxing in S BS 2003 [book excerpt]

Good morning - I am harry brelsford, author of the Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book and each day I am posting up a few pages for the community. I will do this until (1) SBS 2008 ships or (2) I run out of pages!

Today we look at Chapter 9 which is faxing with the shared fax service in SBS 2003.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS - did u know I host an annual conference in Seattle each october for SBSers and SMB consultants? This year we help launch SBS 2008 and Essential Business Server (EBS) between October 4-6!


Chapter 9 Faxing

In working with SBS as both a user and consultant, I’ve noticed that the true value of some of its features can only be appreciated over time. SBS’s faxing capability is one such feature.

The faxing topic is appropriately placed here, later rather than sooner, because it is usually one of those features my clients suddenly discover well after the installation and deployment of the SBS solution. Whereas the main priorities out of the gate for most SBS sites are Internet connectivity, e-mail, and being secure, faxing is usually something I can demonstrate when things settle down and I have the client’s undivided attention. After other core SBS features, such as Outlook 2003, are accepted and widely used, the time is ripe to introduce faxing.

To balance my introduction of the faxing topic, full disclosure is necessary. I have some clients who view faxing as akin to religion. Implementing an electronic, network-based faxing solution, such as that found in SBS, acted as a key driver in their approval of the SBS network implementation project. And not only do I know this firsthand from selected clients, but I also know it from the e-mails you—the readers of my past SBS books—have sent me. Many of you commented at length how important faxing is in a small business environment networked with SBS. In fact, the dialog between reader and writer (that’s me) revealed a couple of interesting points:

• Faxing, when used, is considered very important.

• In general, SBSers were disappointed with the reliability and capability of the faxing application in the SBS 4.x era (late 1990s).

• SBSers in the past (specifically, the SBS 4.x era) have opted to deploy third-party faxing solutions, such as GFI Fax, instead of using the native faxing capabilities inside SBS.

• Readers also reported that they truly got what they paid for in fax modems. Those who went with the low-cost modems (often included with workstations) frequently experienced poor performance. Contrast that with the experience of those who invested in a superior fax modem such as the external V.Everything modem. For an investment of about $250 USD, the folks using the V.Everything modem found that they could achieve five 9’s or six sigma of reliability with the Shared Fax Service in SBS. It just flat out works!

The good news about the Shared Fax Service is that Microsoft listened over the years to the feedback on faxing within the SBS community. In the prior SBS 2000 release (the predecessor to SBS 2003), the fax application, is one area that received some of the greatest attention. And the results showed. Truth be told, it was actually a crack team of developers at Microsoft Israel who “rewrote” or reprogrammed the fax application from the ground up to take advantage of a more stable and robust Windows 2000 code base. This occurred in the summer of 2000. I share this historical insight with you because knowing how we got to where we’re at with faxing in SBS 2003 makes you wiser about the faxing function offered in SBS. That is, I’m providing historical context for ya! More important, if SBS previously lost your trust with respect to faxing, I think this release will restore that trust.

BEST PRACTICE: It’s the crime of the century. It’s the Shared Fax Service caper. It’s a big brother ripping off a little brother. What am I getting to? That the Shared Fax Service that was built for SBS 2000 just after the beginning of the new century was stolen by the Windows Server team for inclusion in the traditional Windows Server 2003 family. That’s right! The Shared Fax Service perfected for SBS was soooo good that it’s been, shall we say, borrowed for the other server products at Microsoft. In the world of intellectual property, there is certainly no greater compliment than theft, so the Fax Service

developed for SBS being co-opted for the other Microsoft Servers

operating systems is quite an affirmation of its value!

In the first part of the chapter, basic SBS faxing is defined as well as configured. You will also learn how to send and receive a fax. In the second half of the chapter, I discuss fax reporting and other advanced fax topics.

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