Quadrant Unleashes Fax Solution for AS/400, Windows

Many AS/400 shops have likely implemented high-performance batch-based fax solutions, used primarily in manufacturing or production environments. While such solutions have sufficed for quite some time, the advent of client/server networks and corporate-wide e-mail services has occasioned a transition of sorts. Organizations now wish to retain their existing batch-based fax solutions while at the same time provide client-side end users with access to integrated fax and e-mail services. With the introduction of Version 2.0 of its FastFax/LAN fax server software, Quadrant Software (www.quadrantsoftware.com) hopes to address a burgeoning market need.

According to Dennis Corain, director of marketing with Quadrant Software (Mansfield, Mass.), the market for an integrated AS/400- and LAN-based fax solution is a relatively new one. "We’ve recently detected in the marketplace an overlap of NT and AS/400 -- 80 percent of AS/400 shops have NT, for example," Corain explains. "So the strategy was undertaken to develop a new product that really was an enterprise focus, not just a LAN piece or an AS/400 piece, but a fax server that took both sides into design at the very beginning."

Quadrant Software’s FastFax/LAN 2.0 fax server software resides on a dedicated Windows NT fax server integrated by means of a software component with the AS/400 and with Windows clients. For AS/400 managers who might not be terribly excited about the prospect of setting up and configuring a dedicated Windows NT fax server, Quadrant Software’s Corain indicates that the FastFax/LAN 2.0 server is a self-configured, standalone turn-key box. "There’s a software component that sits on the 400 and the Windows Client, and on the NT side, we basically sell a standalone, fully configured box which under the covers is running NT 4.0."

FastFax/LAN 2.0 also includes support for standard faxing amenities, such as least cost routing and direct inward dialing (DID). Least Cost Routing allows an end user to keep a fax in the free Internet domain for as long as possible, directing it to a fax server in the calling area of the fax number to be dialed, thus reducing long distance bills. Using DID, the phone company provides a series of virtual telephone numbers which are in turn associated with a Microsoft Exchange Server Inbox account.

But one of the most important additions to FastFax/LAN 2.0, Corain maintains, is the availability of a new e-mail gateway for Microsoft Exchange and Outlook client software. Accordingly, the new e-mail gateway allows users to send and receive faxes directly from their Microsoft Exchange or Outlook clients. The FastFax/LAN 2.0 E-mail Gateway is designed to run as a service on the Microsoft Exchange Server and contains a fax template that integrates with the Microsoft Outlook Contact database to select fax recipients.

Quadrant Software positions FastFax/LAN 2.0 as a solution that interoperates with an enterprise’s existing application infrastructure. According to John Trygstad, MIS director with chemical supplier AG Chemical Equipment (Minneapolis), FastFax/LAN 2.0 did just that with his company’s existing MAPICS purchase order creation application.

"We had been using MAPICS for quite some time when we decided that we needed to automate the purchasing process," Trygstad says. Initially, purchase orders created using MAPICS were sent to a printer and collected at a later time by company personnel who in turn manually faxed them to corporate suppliers. Trygstad consequently determined to implement FastFax/LAN 2.0 in conjunction with MAPICS as a means to automate the faxing process, and is pleased with the results.

"We figured that the system had already paid for itself within 90 days," he contends. "It reduced our mailing costs, cut down follow-up calls to customers and helped us reduce phone costs by automatically saving certain faxes to transmit after-hours."