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I've got a project that there's no budget for. Basically I need to get a null modem connection set up between our phone systems(physical servers running Win2K8 32b) and our new reporting system(virtual server running Win2K3) in another location. I figured I would use a hardware serial/ethernet adapter and connect it to the VM remotely. This however is expensive at ~80+ per phone system. I then started looking into virtual serial ports hoping that I could find a product that would create a virtual COM port on each server and then link them together. There seems to be a plethora of products that do that, though they cost even more money than the hardware route. I then looked to see if there's a virtual serial port that would act as a TCP connection server so that I could point the call collection system at a TCP port, but I've been less successful there.

Basically, has anyone got any suggestions? Or should I just ask my boss to pony up a few thousand for adapters/licenses?

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If you have a spare system lying around you could configure it to act as a proxy between a network connection and the serial ports on your phone systems. This assumes that your phone systems are all in relatively close proximity to each other, that your spare system has sufficient serial ports, and that you're willing to play around with some flavor of Linux.

The model would look like this:

  • The Linux box would connect to the serial ports
  • The Linux box would would run something like ser2net
  • Your remote system would make TCP connections to the Linux box.

This solution is only attractive if you have the spare hardware (and time) floating around.

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The downside is it's multiple phone systems, and multiple remote locations. These all need to feed to the one central reporting server. Using your solution that would require 1 linux box at each location. I could do it, but I'd need a lot of hardware. Not to mention the power consumption added at each location would likely cost more than the licenses would over time. Thank you for the information though, it was helpful. –  Justin Popa Feb 2 '12 at 21:19
    
As I indicated, "This assumes your phone systems are all in relatively close proximity". –  larsks Feb 2 '12 at 21:45
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