Server virtualization is the term used for the method of running multiple
independent applications or operating systems on a single physical machine. It
is used as a means of enhancing physical resources to maximize the investment in
hardware, where the server administrator uses a software application to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments.
Server virtualization brings the possibility of sharing hardware between multiple server applications, with each application believing it is running on its own computer with no risk of one application causing another to fail. Disk intensive applications can be matched with CPU heavy ones in order to get the maximum out of each piece of server hardware.
Zetafax's fax virtualization software supports VMware (ESX and ESXi), which can be seen illustrated in the diagram to the right hand side. Zetafax also supports the vSphere Suite and Microsoft Hyper-V.
In a virtualized environment, server applications and their virtualized
operating systems access the underlying hardware through a virtualization layer.
Communications hardware (such as a fax board) is typically not supported in this
virtualized world, and so any server application that needs to use such
hardware requires an alternative approach - this obstacle often results in fax
servers being maintained separately from an organisation's virtualized
environment. With Fax Over IP (FoIP) this is no longer necessary. Below is an example illustration on how
Fax servers can be deployed in several ways. A common configuration is to connect the fax server directly to the PSTN through an analog or digital (ISDN) telephone line. This is done using fax hardware such as an intelligent fax board, ISDN controller or modem. This is a common setup in smaller organizations, where the fax server simply replaces one or more stand-alone fax machines.
In a virtualized environment, the server applications and their virtualized operating systems access the underlying hardware through a virtualization layer. As communications hardware is typically not supported in this virtualized world, this environment can prove problematic for fax software. Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) allows faxes to be transmitted using the IP connection rather than the physical hardware. A software-only device can therefore be implemented on the fax server, which typically integrates with an IP gateway on the network. The gateway is a device, similar to a router, that converts FoIP signals coming from the fax server to fax signals (squeaks) that are transmitted over the PSTN or telephone network. See a more technical illustration of how FoIP works in a virtual environment, or download our Zetafax server virtualization datasheet.