Tech watch: The print and network intersection

Tech watch: The print and network intersection

A printer is a humble box that is expected to work. When one of your employees wishes to have a hard copy of a document, they will hit File -> Print, and if the box doesn’t make noise and spit the printed documents out, the IT manager is going to get a heated call. It’s something just about every organisation has experienced at some point in time.

Meanwhile, with the interest in virtualisation, the cloud, and collaborative technologies, networked infrastructure and centralised management tools have become more important than ever to an organisation. So how can you ensure that humble printer (or fleet of printers, if your customer is large enough) sits on the network in a reliable fashion? And what can be done to take advantage of current technology trends and provide additional value out from a printer investment?

The first step is making sure you’ve got a network-ready printer in the box. It sounds simple to the point of being ludicrous, but HP managed enterprise solutions business manager, Guyon Collins, claimed it was a scenario the vendor still encountered.

“We still have customers going and buying products, and then having to use third-party additional add-on inkjet direct cards to enable that network connectivity,” Collins said. “Which is okay, but it can causes challenges later on around how well we can monitor that device through things such as remote monitoring.”

A properly networked printer, however, becomes a far sounder investment for an organisation by giving administrators the ability to control how much is printed and allowing proactive maintenance of those machines to minimise downtime.

It’s a keen concern of the customer, Collins claimed, that they are able to keep the cost of printing down.

“What they’re interested in knowing is once it comes into a network environment, how many people have got access to that environment, what they are going to be printing, and how do they control that,” he said. “I get a lot of questions along the lines of: ‘If I introduce that printer to the environment and I network it, how do I control what my staff can do with it? Because if I don’t, I’m going to have a huge cost’.”

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