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When Comparing Cloud Fax Providers: Investigate Network Availability

Moving to a cloud fax solution has clear advantages, from efficiency, uptime, and workflow automation possibilities, to decreased security risks and potential cost savings. However, eliminating traditional fax from an organization is not as straightforward as it sounds; in reality, there are several considerations for switching to a cloud fax service that decision-makers must take into account. Different members of an organization depend on fax for different reasons, just as different stakeholders in the buying process will have different requirements for the fax solution that’s ultimately purchased. 

 

Scoping fax providers? This checklist can help

Whether your organization is looking to eliminate fax machines or on-premise servers, or you’re seeking a replacement online fax provider, our checklist will get you started. Use this checklist to assess what’s important to all of your organization’s stakeholders in this project, so that you can find the right fax solution for your entire organization’s requirements.

This blog post begins a series examining the essential attributes of an electronic fax solution, designed as an introduction about what is involved and why a specific feature is important. Given the wide variation among online fax providers, choosing the right solution can be critical for operational success. For example, a vital consideration for organizations in highly regulated industries like healthcare, where HIPAA and other privacy laws are paramount, is to ensure that all legally required privacy measures are in place at every step, to avoid security headaches and potential breaches. This first blog post examines some of the important structural elements supporting network availability that should be in place for an optimal cloud fax solution.

Network Availability and Continuity a Key Concern for Internet Fax Solutions

To demonstrate availability, a digital fax provider must be able to maintain network and service operation during a technical failure or unforeseen disaster. Availability includes continued access to all user tools, applications and portals. Due diligence about network availability is necessary, because vendors define availability with wide variation. Even though a majority of fax service providers will make claims of high-availability architecture, only a limited number can actually ensure uninterrupted operations in the face of network, data center or telecom issues.

Determine Data Center Configuration for Your Prospective Vendor

It is common for most digital fax service vendors to run a high-availability network that processes fax traffic across multiple data centers. What’s far more important than the total number of data centers is how they are configured to support cloud fax traffic when infrastructure challenges occur.  The key configuration choice that supports greater resilience for ensuring business continuity is “active-active,” rather than an “active-passive” model.

The Key Difference Between Active-Active and Active-Passive Configuration

A network with active-active configuration uses multiple data centers simultaneously to process all fax traffic. These networks are not dependent on a failover process that moves traffic or a customer’s operation to a different network location only when a problem occurs. Data centers connected by active-active architecture work together seamlessly, independent of physical location. On the other hand, active-passive architecture is built on a failover process, often triggered manually, that shifts telecommunications, user accounts, old fax images, etc. to an alternate location when the primary data center has a problem. Users of a cloud fax or other service with active-passive configuration often cannot even access the service while a failover process is happening. Even worse, users may be locked out of their systems for hours or even longer, depending on the precipitating problem.

Failover Servers Also Can Be a Compliance Problem

For organizations with strict compliance requirements, it is vital to confirm that all the data centers involved in an Internet fax solution are compliant. For active-passive configuration, it is possible that the primary server may well be compliant, while any failover servers are not. Some cloud fax solution providers with active-passive architecture also may use back-up servers physically located in other countries, adding data sovereignty issues to other compliance concerns.

When investigating network availability as part of a cloud fax vendor decision, these considerations are just the starting point for how to audit and compare the network availability of different electronic fax solution vendors. Other considerations about availability include vendor data and policies about peak volumes and capacity, disaster recovery, uptime service level agreements (SLAs), scheduled maintenance, and infrastructure change notification processes. This goal of this post is to explain some of the basics involved in assessing network availability for cloud fax and to prepare you to ask important questions as you are investigating a new electronic fax solution.

Download fax requirements checklist

To help you gather the right questions to ask other internal stakeholders for your fax solution purchasing process, we’ve put together a checklist of considerations to help you begin scoping your project. Download the checklist below.

 

Download the fax requirements checklist

Start asking the right questions about your organization’s fax uses and needs, so you can find the right solution for the entire organization.

Concord Technologies