written by: Lee Clemmer•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/5/2010
GFI FaxMaker is a fax server solution that integrates with the leading e-mail server platforms such as Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, as well as other SMTP servers. I reviewed the latest version of FaxMaker and discovered why they call it "the leading network fax server".
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Faxes are still a significant portion of business communication today. The legal acceptance and business validity of faxed documents persists despite their limits, being monochrome and low resolution. With the majority of modern business communication shifting to e-mail and electronic document transfer, there is a continuing need for integration of the legacy fax technology with today's Internet messaging and communication platforms. Telephone systems, the backbone that the fax protocol requires, shift from analog to Voice over IP (VoIP) technology more and more. GFI offers FaxMaker as a solution to meet these needs.
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I evaluated version 14.3 of GFI FaxMaker. It supports major mail servers, including Microsoft Exchange and other mail solutions using SMTP/POP3. Cutting edge features include Fax over IP (FoIP/VoIP) support, inbound routing (DID), Active Directory integration, multiple servers & clustering support, reporting, and archiving support to SQL or GFI MailArchiver. Other features include optional OCR integration, junk fax filtering, sending faxes from any application, and the ability to receive faxes as PDFs. SMS text messaging features are included as well, although I didn't examine them.
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Install was straightforward, and had the option to check for a newer build. There are options for the server, a remote fax monitor, and the Exchange 2000/2003/2007 connector. Setting up fax receiving, routing, and sending via SMTP to the FaxMaker server is clear and excellent directions are provided for any common Exchange & e-mail architectures. Support for Active Directory is a nice touch. Even without Active Directory, faxes can be routed to users via e-mail address. If you've ever used a fax client for Outlook, you'll know what to expect. I did find that the FaxMaker client was a bit better thought out and that it was easier to "get used to" than some I've used. Faxing from any application is standard fare through the use of the FaxMaker print driver.
Testing of configuration and use for Brooktrout boards, DID and FoIP were beyond the scope of this review, although from the thoroughness of the documentation I would expect no problems. If you haven't configured multi-channed fax or modem hardware or VoIP equipment before, that would be the more problematic aspect of the configuration for you anyway. I didn't have the chance or need to talk with their support team, and doubt I would need to, since the product was straightforward, worked well, and has excellent documentation.
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Pricing and Support
A base per-user price of $109 for 5-9 users for the small business, $29 per-user for 100-250 users, or $7200 for an unlimited user license. I found the pricing model for upgrades was per-user, as was renewal of the service agreement (version upgrade pricing inculdes SMA). The version upgrade prices were essentially 50% of the main price, meaning an upgrade cost half as much as the original product. In my mind this is rather expensive, considering that there wouldn't be an array of new potential features for fax products, but more likely compatibility with a new version of the mail server. Considering the feature set and flexibility, the price/performance of the product is great.
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GFI has a broad suite of products that satisfy many of the day-to-day needs of IT in businesses. FaxMaker has won numerous industry awards. I can see why--FaxMaker is a solid product that satisfies the need businesses have for fax integration, and provides all the features needed to work in almost any business environment. I'm always hoping for the day that faxes will go the way of the Dodo, but until then FaxMaker can make using them as easy and effective as you need.