I have been asking a lot of MS and Cisco folks about the options of inbound and outbound faxing with Exchange 2007 UM and Cisco CM also known as CCM, I didn’t have a clear answer so I tried to figure it out, please keep in mind that the below lines doesn’t hold any official responses neither from MS nor from Cisco.
Let us summarize what we want to do:
- Outbound faxing, meaning that the user will send an email to whatever server then it is sent as a fax to its destination.
- Inbound fax, meaning that a sender send a fax to a user, the user gets the fax in his mailbox and open it using the outlook.
Pretty simple but hard to achieve, why, well I believe that this problem occur because Microsoft folks are not focusing in this part “looks like the R2 will have something to bring”, and Cisco is not playing fair with MS since they don’t let their technology work with MS specially in this part.
Let us design a simple design for inbound faxing:
The problem that we want to deliver the fax to the user’s mailbox, we will have UM and typically OCS, to achieve those 2 things has to be known:
- Users’ external extension which must be unique.
- Users’ email address.
The exchange 2007 UM server can intercept the fax signal and deliver the message correctly to the user’s mailbox, the problem that it doesn’t work fine with CCM, although that Microsoft inbound faxing relies on using t.38, Cisco uses t.38 as well but Cisco’s implementation relies on UDP while Microsoft relies on what…yes TCP and there is no way to change any of them to the other protocol.
So using t.38 while a Cisco voice GW inplace is not possible, so we will have to let the UM server intercept the fax signal and tries to do the job by enabling EnableInbandFaxDetection, I tried it with CCM 4.3 but it didn’t work “I will upgrade mine within 2 weeks to CCM6 so I shall give you what it does with CCM 6”.
So what is the available option, I believe that onramp http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/voice_ip_comm/unity_exp/rel3_1/administration/guide/voicemail/fxgatewy.html
And trying to deliver the fax either to a shared mailbox or specifically to the user.
Note: you can deliver the message directly to the user by configuring you DID distribution to be as following for example: suppose that you have xxxx5000 up to xxxx5100 as DID, so distribute odd numbers for users direct phone and even numbers for direct fax.
Configuring such a configuration poses a real challenge for organizations with large number of employees, but configuring a single extension for everything in the world relies on CCM to talk to Exchange server nicely.
For outbound faxing, Exchange UM doesn’t support using outbound faxing, but if you have Cisco GW inplace you can use offramp faxing, I didn’t go into designing it since I am waiting for my CCM6 boxes, once they are here I will post an update about if anything make any feature works, and about offramp design and implementation.