j2-like voicemail/fax: how to implement?

Discussion in 'Cisco' started by Guan Yang, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. Guan Yang

    Guan Yang Guest

    I have used the j2 service (also available at efax.com) for a while.
    Here is a short description of the service:

    I have a personal phone number, let's call it 555-1234. When someone
    calls 555-1234, a friendly voice says "Press 1 for voicemail, press 2
    for fax, or start faxing at any time." The caller can then leave a
    voicemail message or fax. If the call was made with a fax machine then
    the fax machine would normally start faxing immediately.

    I then receive the fax or voicemail message by email. Faxes come as
    TIFF attachments, while voicemail messages are compressed with the GSM
    codec. (The latter works fine on Mac, but may have file/mime type
    issues on Windows.) I can also see a log of received voicemails and
    faxes on the j2 website.

    The service also allows me to send faxes. Little authentication is
    done on this apart from the RFC822 From header. I can send an email
    with attachments in a myriad formats (including PostScript, PDF, plain
    text and AutoCad (!)) to <fax-number>@something.j2.com and the fax
    gets sent off and billed to my account.

    Does anyone know what software/hardware j2 uses for this service? How
    would I go about implementing a similar service? What about just the
    fax component?

    I was thinking along these lines:

    Buy a Cisco 2600 and a BRI card for it (I am in Europe) as well as the
    store-and-forward option for IOS (is that the VoIP license?). (Would
    cheaper hardware work?) Set up the 2600 to send all faxes by SMTP to
    <called-id>@internal.server.com. internal.server.com is a qmail or
    similar mail server with a script to process it and put it into a
    database. A web app takes care of the rest, i.e. looking up the
    recipient's email address and sending it off.

    Outgoing faxes are handled in a similar way. The mail server accepts
    messages with attachments, reformats them into fax-compatible TIFF
    images, and sends them to the Cisco 2600 (is this possible?). XML-RPC
    or SOAP calls are made for accounting.

    How much would the 2600, cards and applicable IOS licenses cost? Is
    this the cheapest or easiest way to do this? Would it be better to get
    a specialized ISDN fax PCI card and a PC server? How hard would it be
    to configure the 2600 for this app?

    What about the voicemail part?

    I hope that someone can help. Thanks,
    Guan Yang, Jan 17, 2004
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  2. An AS5300 with VFC technology has an included TCL script to handle almost
    this this exact scenario. It can also autodetect FAX transmissions. The
    only thing is, I don't know that it can email a voice mail message. It can
    hand the voice call off to a different system to do this though. They're
    EOS, so they are cheap on the grey market too.
    Cliff Campbell, Jan 18, 2004
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  3. Guan Yang

    Guan Yang Guest

    Thanks for the reply. I'm not very familiar with Cisco hardware. When
    you say "included", does that mean that the Tcl script is stored
    physically on the AS5300's firmware? Or do I have to download it from
    some Cisco website (which I guess I can't get access to without Cisco

    What are the potential pitfalls with buying second-hand Cisco
    hardware? Is it difficult to get updates? Do I have to relicense IOS
    in practice? Is it possible to get support?

    Guan Yang, Jan 20, 2004
  4. Included means on the VFC board in the DSP firmware there are scripts for
    default things, an autodetect FAX/Voice app and T.37 script are two of them.
    TCL scripts can be downloaded from the Cisco webpage (CCO acct required) to
    do other things as well.

    Pitfalls? Depends. I have a smartnet account that lets me into Cisco
    support web site. If you don't things could be marginally more difficult.
    And yes, technically you are supposed to relicense IOS although I think IP
    Only is $15 bucks. For this functionality you'd need IP Plus. Most
    unofficial resellers (ebay for example) do ship with whatever IOS was last
    on it, sometimes they ship with an updated IOS and they put the
    responsibility on you to make it legal. You can purchase a SmartNet
    contract for this equipment at any time. At least I've never had a problem.
    I believe it is also possible to pay for support per incident as well.
    Cisco hardware is well supported for sometime after it goes End of Sale
    Cliff Campbell, Jan 21, 2004
  5. Guan Yang

    Guan Yang Guest

    Thanks for all the answers. One last question: If I get a really cheap
    smartnet contract (the Cisco 2509 support looks cheap), do I still
    have access to the TclWare portion of CCO?

    Guan Yang, Jan 23, 2004
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