Multiport Serial Adapters

When selecting Microsoft Small Business Server-related hardware for a Remote Access Service (RAS) and Fax solution, another important consideration is how the modems will interface with the server hardware… specifically the bus interface on the Small Business Server system’s motherboard.

For most Small Business Server systems, regardless of whether “white box” custom-assembled systems or servers from top-tier OEMs, there are only two serial ports. This poses a huge problem and stems from a convention dating back to the original IBM PC design of the early 1980s.

If the Small Business Server system has a UPS connected up to the server via serial interface, this means you probably only have one serial port left to serve all of the modems you’ve identified for the Small Business Server system.

To get around this, you’ll need to look at multiport serial adapters.

Multiport serial adapters usually add at least four additional serial ports, and in many cases eight, to an Small Business Server system.

Because an Small Business Server system very often needs multiple modems, you should find a multiport serial adapter that you’re comfortable with and add this to your standard Small Business Server system hardware configuration for nearly all of your clients.

In addition to mitigating the scarcity of serial ports, most multiport serial adapters have built in processors that offload processing overhead to the multiport serial adapter harware. This frees up the Pentium class CPU to focus on processor intensive tasks, like running a Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft SQL Server database on the Small Business Server system.

Many vendors who’ve traditionally offered multiport serial adapters are now also offering multiport modems. These boards actually integrate multiple internal modems on a single PCI (or in some cases ISA) expansion card. While these products with built-in modems can be useful, bear in mind that you lose many of the advantages of external modems; in particular, the ability to easily reset a “hung” modem without rebooting the Small Business Server system.

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