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Virtualize Fax Server

Posted on 2011-10-12
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I have a fax server that has a dedicated fax card in it.  I want to virtualize this server with VMware.  We have already virtualized all of our servers except this one because of the fax card.  Does anyone know of any way to virtualize a server that contains a fax card?
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Question by:tholdren
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 36957176
I doubt you can.  At least, I've never heard of a way.  A Virtual server abstracts the hardware - meaning the virtualization software creates a computer with certain hardware specs and presents it for the operating system you want to use.  What you're asking is that the virtualization software should pass through a PCI card directly to the VM.  I've never heard of ANY Virtualization product that could do this.  If you really want to virtualize the fax server, I'd suggest doing what most of the other consultants I know recommend to their small clients with fax requirements - use an online service instead and drop the fax card.

Bottom line, I think your answer is "it cannot be done".  It'd be nice to learn I'm wrong, but I'm fairly confident in my statement.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 2000 total points
ID: 36957206
If you are using VMware ESXi 4.x, 5.0 you may be able to use VMDirect Path, and add this PCI card into the existing VM.

See here for details of VMDirect Path.
http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/VMDirectPath/USB_Setup.php

This is how we've worked around deploying these solutions. Just a few issues, your ESXi server needs to support VM Direct Path, and not all PCI cards support VM Direct Path.

So you would then just add the drivers to the VM, and the VM uses the Fax Card in the Host ESXi server.

This means, that you must not vMotion this VM from this host Server, otherwise the VM hardware would not see the card anymore.

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by:lords1979
ID: 36958366
If it is not an internal card or you have the option of getting an external, you get a usb/ethernet switch, serial/ethernet switch, parallel/ethernet switch and connect this to the existing vm.
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LVL 124
ID: 36958454
more details on VMDirectPath I/O pass-through for your Internal PCI FAX Card

VMware KB: Configuring VMDirectPath I/O pass-through devices
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1010789

VMware ESXi4 and VMDirectPath
http://www.petri.co.il/vmware-esxi4-vmdirectpath.htm

Configuration Examples and Troubleshooting for VMDirectPath
http://vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMW-vSphere4-directpath-host.pdf
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