Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite. An Oracle White Paper August 2005

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1 Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite An Oracle White Paper August 2005

2 Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite Introduction... 3 Fax Support in Oracle Collaboration Suite... 4 Outbound Fax Configuration... 7 Generic Integration... 7 Fax Servers in the market... 8 Fax Server Product Considerations... 8 Outbound Fax Deployment Considerations Addressing Conventions Volume/Size of Faxes Physical Location of Fax Servers: Least Cost Routing: Deploying Captaris RightFax with Oracle Process Overview Outbound Fax Message Flow Integration Steps Summary Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 2

3 Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite INTRODUCTION Facsimile continues to be an important communication medium in the global economy. Fax is used for everything from marketing to execution of legal documents. Its strength is its ability to send documents over a regular telephone line and that faxed signatures are accepted as legally binding in most countries. Due to its ubiquity and low infrastructure costs, fax is the preferred electronic document delivery solution for much of the world. Oracle Collaboration Suite provides a collaboration and communication infrastructure leveraging the strength of the Oracle Database and Application Server. Oracle Voic & Fax builds on this infrastructure to provide voic and inbound fax services, and offers ready integration with mail and voic for a full messaging infrastructure offering through Oracle Unified Messaging- or beyond, through s full Suite deployment. Outbound fax capabilities are not provided as part of Oracle Voic & Fax but third party fax servers can be easily integrated. This paper will review the existing inbound fax features of Oracle Collaboration Suite, describe the general concepts for outbound fax integration and discuss deployment considerations. An overview of the integration between Oracle Collaboration Suite and Captaris RightFax is provided. Other information as well as step-by-step set-up and deployment instructions are available from Oracle at Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 3

4 FAX SUPPORT IN ORACLE COLLABORATION SUITE Oracle Collaboration Suite Voic & Fax allows inbound faxes to be received in a user s mail inbox assuming the user is enabled for fax and the appropriate hardware is in place. Outbound fax is not provided as part of the product, but can be integrated easily using third party products or open source software. Inbound Fax In order to enable Inbound fax for a user, the appropriate fax resource hardware must be available on the Voic & Fax Server. The Intel infrastructure used by OCS supports the following fax resources: - VFX/PCI - D/41JCT-LST - HMP Fax Resource (Voice over IP) Note: Other resources may be certified or made available for use by Intel. Updated certification information is available from Intel s site. Incoming fax calls follow the same call flow as voice calls bound for the voic system. In the case of a fax call, the voic system answers the call and the fax machine on the other end, presents the fax tone. Oracle Voic & Fax recognizes the fax tone and replies with fax initiation tones. Once communication between the fax systems is enabled, the fax is received by the fax resource in the server. When transmission is complete, Oracle Voic & Fax creates a MIME compliant mail message with a TIF attachment containing the fax and delivers it to the intended users inbox. The message arrives as a regular message with a TIF attachment containing the fax. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 4

5 Oracle Voic & Fax inbound fax capabilities are normally deployed behind a PBX to a single phone number (DID or Direct Inward Dial) meaning that the call will first be directed to a users handset by the PBX and if not answered, the call will roll over to the voic system.. This means that users who pick up fax calls directed to their DID phone number hear fax tones. To resolve this issue, telephone system administrators may choose to deploy separate numbers for voice vs fax and have these fax numbers routed directly to the voic system. Another option may be to use group fax numbers routed directly to the voic system with group fax inboxes where users share folders or have access to dedicated fax accounts. The deployment of Oracle Voic and Fax provides many more integration options than those available in normal fax systems. Not only are messages delivered directly into a users mail inbox, server side rules / filters and the Oracle API s can be leveraged to integrate with other applications. One example of this can be found at Oracle s Dublin Service Center. Prior to the deployment of Oracle Voic and Fax, European customers sent signed fax orders to group fax machines. Runners hand carried these faxes to the account representatives who added tracking information and messengered the paper copies to an operations group. This operations group then scanned the fax into the Order Entry system. With the integration capabilities of Oracle Collaboration Suite and Oracle Voic and Fax, inbound facsimile messages now arrive in the same message store as all other messages. The operations user adds the appropriate information and forwards the to the appropriate parties. Integration through the Oracle Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 5

6 API s enables fax messages to be moved directly into the Order Entry system for further processing. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 6

7 OUTBOUND FAX CONFIGURATION Outbound fax capabilities can be integrated with the Oracle and Mobile Access components of the Oracle Collaboration Suite. The choice of integration methods is based on the business requirements of the organization. Companies will prefer to integrate via mobile access when: - They primarily require faxing from a wireless device or the Voice Access interface. - Require that alerts be delivered via fax. Companies will prefer to integrate via Oracle when: - They require outbound faxing from clients (Outlook, Webmail or 3 rd party clients). - They do not implement the Mobile Access component of Oracle Collaboration Suite. This paper focuses on implementing outbound fax with the Oracle component of OCS. Additional information on configuring outbound fax using Oracle Mobile Access can be found in the OCS documentation (http://otn.oracle.com). Generic Integration At the highest level, Third party fax solutions which support SMTP or IMAP / POP can be integrated with Oracle using these standard interfaces. SMTP SMTP is the standard means by which all travels over the Internet. Oracle uses SMTP as it s native internal transport as well. In SMTP integrations, the fax server is configured as a separate mail system and messages are delivered to that Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 7

8 system via SMTP. Any response messages are returned via SMTP to the sender s inbox. IMAP / POP IMAP / POP are the standard means by which mail clients retrieve and manage messages from a mail server. Oracle Collaboration Suite provides native IMAP and POP interfaces. In an IMAP or POP implementations, the fax server is configured as an standard client and polls for new messages at defined intervals. Response messages (message delivery, error messages, etc.) are normally routed to the sender s inbox via SMTP. Fax Servers in the market Many fax servers support standard interfaces with licensing models ranging from open source to commercially available product. Fax server providers range from software only to complete solutions including implementation services. A google search on Fax Servers provides a large number of products that could be integrated with Oracle Collaboration Suite. Two examples include: - RightFax from Captaris- Software only solution which supports Microsoft Windows and a number of common fax / telephony boards from Brooktrout and Intel (among others). RightFax has extensive documentation, support options and a large re-seller network. RightFax is certified for use with Oracle CRM, the Oracle Application Server, and Oracle Collaboration Suite. - HylaFAX from HylaFAX.org Open-source software only solution with extensive web information. Available for download and targeted for use by organizations preferring free-ware solutions. Fax Server Product Considerations Beyond support for standard interfaces and required features (e.g. least cost routing, reliability, etc) considerations for choosing a fax server vendor should include: Server hardware and Fax Cards: Some vendors provide software only products with defined system requirements, while others require that their own customized hardware be deployed. Fax cards and/or telephony cards may also be required. Hardware requirements and card compatibility are specified by each vendor. Operating Systems: Fax servers are available on many major operating system platforms including Microsoft Windows and Linux. The organization s operating system standards should be kept in mind. Supported telephony interface(s) support: Connectivity to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) is required to make outbound fax calls. T1, E1, or analog are common interface types for deploying outbound fax solutions. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 8

9 Connectivity requirements will vary based on the telephony infrastructure currently in place and whether the fax server will be placed behind a PBX or connected directly to your providers central office (CO). Support for Voice over IP (VoIP): Support for VoIP should be factored into the fax server decision based on the organization s deployment plans. Note that physical site and protocol / vendor should also be taken into account. Implementation Services: Services may be important based on the organization s depth of telephony resources and relationship with existing telephony vendors. Ongoing Support: While freeware is available, the organization s appetite for unsupported / lightly supported solutions should be taken into account. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 9

10 OUTBOUND FAX DEPLOYMENT CONSIDERATIONS Outbound faxes sent through Oracle Collaboration Suite are normal mail messages and add minimal additional stress to the system (messages are delivered to an inbox and the /Fax Gateway is counted as a IMAP or POP based client). Many factors should be taken into account when deploying outbound fax capabilities within an organization including: Addressing Conventions There are many ways to address a fax message and are based on the integration method and the product used. Captaris RightFax supports it s own format or the more recently approved IETF addressing format which uses similar semantics. Training users on the chosen format is essential. Additional customizations and processing may be required in some mail clients to make sending faxes easier for end users. Volume/Size of Faxes The total number and size of faxes to be sent during the Busy Hour will determine the number of fax servers / fax cards needed. Size of fax is directly related to the time it takes to transmit a fax over a phone line. Note that business requirements also drive sizing requirements. An organization with requirements for all faxes to be transmitted within 5 minutes will require more hardware/phone lines than a similar size organization which requires that faxes be transmitted within 2 hours. Physical Location of Fax Servers: Many organizations have distributed telephone systems (one for each location). Integrating an outbound fax server with a consolidated deployment of Oracle Collaboration Suite allows companies the flexibility to deploy centralized or distributed fax servers based on the business requirements of the organization. Note that business continuity and redundancy should also be factored into the deployment architecture. Least Cost Routing: Least cost routing is a fax server feature that routes faxes over the IP network to the nearest fax server based on the prefix and fax number. As local calls are normally less expensive than long distance, this feature may reduce faxing (call) costs for organizations with large geographic footprints and distributed fax servers. Depending upon the product chosen, it may be easier and cost effective to implement least cost routing in a centralized environment. Rules can be managed centrally on a set of servers rather than on each independent outbound fax server. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 10

11 Existing Network / Telephony infrastructure: Existing infrastructure should always be taken into account when determining deployment architectures. The amount / size of any message traffic over your LAN / WAN should be compared to the cost of adding additional phone lines at single site or multiple locations. Call cost savings from least cost routing (if implemented) should be factored into this equation as well. Management / Administration cost: The call cost savings with least cost routing schemes requiring a number of local fax servers should be compared to the cost of managing the outbound fax application(s) and server components in a distributed environment. This cost may also vary based on the server operating system required by the Outbound Fax Server. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 11

12 DEPLOYING CAPTARIS RIGHTFAX WITH ORACLE There are many Outbound Fax Servers that can be integrated with Oracle . Oracle has chosen to document an implementation of Captaris RightFax as an example. Process Overview Oracle Collaboration Suite and the Captaris RightFax SMTP Gateway provide numerous configuration options allowing a great deal of flexibility for implementing outbound faxing from . The implementation documented below is one example of how to implement Outbound fax in Oracle Collaboration Suite . Please consult the Oracle Administrator s Guide and the Captaris RightFax Administrator s Guide when planning your deployment. Outbound Fax Message Flow A message goes through a number of steps when being routed to a Captaris RightFax Server for transmission. The following is a high level overview of these steps: 1. A message is addressed to a fax number at the Fax domain by an end user using an client (standards based, Web Access Client, or other). 2. The message is sent by the client via the Oracle SMTP Server. 3. Message re-write rules re-route the message and deliver it to the outbound fax account inbox. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 12

13 4. The RightFax SMTP Gateway polls the outbound fax account as a user to retrieve any messages to be faxed. 5. RightFax transmits the message via fax. 6. Confirmation and/or error messages are returned to end user via SMTP. Integration Steps At the highest level, the process of Configuring Outbound fax Capabilities for Oracle Collaboration Suite using the Captaris RightFax SMTP Gateway can be define in the four steps described below. 1. Create an domain in Oracle server that acts as a gateway for all fax-bound Provision a RightFax user account in Oracle that will be accessed by the RightFax SMTP Gateway to retrieve fax-bound messages and attachments from a IMAP or POP inbox. 3. Setup and configure the RightFax SMTP Gateway to retrieve fax-bound messages and attachments from the RightFax users IMAP / POP inbox in OCS Configure the Inbound SMTP process in Oracle to re-route any messages addressed to the fax gateway domain to the RightFax POP inbox. This is accomplished by using server side rewrite rules in the Oracle . Additional details and step-by-step instructions in configuring Captaris RightFax and Oracle Collaboration Suite for outbound faxing are available from Oracle by clicking on Oracle Collaboration Suite at SUMMARY Oracle Collaboration Suite provides a robust, enterprise class collaboration environment which provides a flexibly deployment architecture built on standards. By leveraging the provided inbound fax capabilities and integrating third party products, organizations can implement complete fax solutions that fit their needs at lower overall cost and with higher levels of reliability and security. Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite White Paper Page 13

14 Fax and Oracle Collaboration Suite August 2005 Authors: Marc Ottenville, Duane Jensen Contributing Authors: Oracle Corporation World Headquarters 500 Oracle Parkway Redwood Shores, CA U.S.A. Worldwide Inquiries: Phone: Fax: Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. Various product and service names referenced herein may be trademarks of Oracle Corporation. All other product and service names mentioned may be trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright 2005 Oracle Corporation All rights reserved.

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