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Fax over IP: Going Paperless - When Is Virtual Real?


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March 23, 2012

Fax over IP: Going Paperless - When Is Virtual Real?

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

Over that past weeks, part I and part II of this series reviewed several topics related to virtual reality and virtual solutions.  Now may be a good time, however, to define – or redefine as it were – virtual reality. 

“In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.” (Wikipedia) 

Merriam-Webster defines reality as “the quality or state of being real.” 

Wikipedia also adds “A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.” And Webster’s expands the definition to include, “something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily.”

The reason for looking more closely at these definitions is to clarify what prevailing misconceptions exist regarding the Internet, virtual networks and cloud computing.  Virtual networks are, in effect, “real networks” and just as REAL as any traditional network.  In companies running VMware, Xen or Hyper-V, the networks actually exist, they have that quality or state of being real. 

The Internet is also very real.  Referring to being on the Internet as being in the “cloud” is interpreted by some to mean less than real or insubstantial like one of those fluffy Cumulus Clouds that clouds look like floating pieces of cotton.  That may have been true in the early days of the Internet.  But, just as Cumulus Clouds can transform into powerful Cumulonimbus Clouds, seen in severe thunderstorms or Supercells, the Internet evolution, or revolution to some, has also transformed itself into a powerful global SuperNetwork.  

In meteorology, a weather front is the boundary that separates masses of air.  A clash between a warm and cold front is sometimes very powerful and capable of producing violent thunderstorms and tornadoes that can cause extensive damage.  This is analogous to the clash between “legacy networks” and “Global Cloud” technologies.  The clash is also very powerful but not necessarily perceived as violent.  However, organizations that are adopting Global Cloud technologies are definitely blowing away the competition with their powerful resources and high-level efficiencies.

Today’s global economy requires companies to be mobile, flexible yet still be resilient in the event of natural adversities like floods, ice storms and other negative events.  The key is to provide employees (the most valuable of all company resources) with the tools operate at full efficiency from anywhere at any time.  From this perspective, the Internet is a much better platform than customer premises equipment (CPE) deployments both from a Business Continuity (BC) perspective and normal daily operations.  Granted, some very large organizations can achieve the same BC protection by deploying across multiple geographic locations with redundant architectures.  Smaller organizations, however, cannot afford this type of CPE deployment so virtual is the only real, affordable solution that still provides a full set of applications and features.

In the same sense, paperless environments – especially those that leverage virtualization or cloud technologies – are highly resilient and provide continuity in any circumstance.  Beyond the inherent cost benefits, the business benefits of migrating to virtualized communications (including fax over IP and electronic document management) deliver operational flexibility and drive business efficiency.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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