Virtualize Fax Server

Posted on 2011-10-12
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
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?
Question by:tholdren
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    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.
    LVL 116

    Accepted Solution

    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.

    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.

    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    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.
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    more details on VMDirectPath I/O pass-through for your Internal PCI FAX Card

    VMware KB: Configuring VMDirectPath I/O pass-through devices

    VMware ESXi4 and VMDirectPath

    Configuration Examples and Troubleshooting for VMDirectPath

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