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EFI enables iPad, Android device printing for enterprise users

by David Needle

June 12 2012

Printing from your iPad at home just takes a few taps to connect to a wirelessly-enabled printer, but printing in the enterprise isn’t nearly as straightforward.

That’s where EFI says it has the answer with the latest PrintMe Mobile 2.2 software for secure mobile printing. 

“The utility of the tablet is fantastic. It’s so easy to take it to a meeting or the building next door, but it doesn’t do what a laptop does, access a printer,” says Tom Offut, VP of business development at EFI

EFI’s solution is designed for enterprises with a mobile workforce and dealing with the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where employees are using their personal devices for work. 

“We see two scenarios,” says Offut. “One is a company has a BYOD policy that allows employees to use their devices. They’re not allowed on the network but they still have a need to print. We have that solution built-in to PrintMe Mobile.” 

Offut says that even if the user is outside the firewall they can see the wireless printers on the network and can print to them. 

“It’s a unique solution and the print transmission is secure and encrypted,” he adds.

The other scenario Offut says is something EFI first started to see at universities and schools that needed to distinguish printer access. For example, a college dean may want to print from his iPad, but he doesn’t necessarily want students or others with iPads to have access to that same printer. The same might apply in a company where certain printers need to be reserved for specific users. 

“I can certainly imagine a CEO or CIO saying the same thing,” says Offut. “So we came up with a way to let companies distinguish printers. Apple’s AirPrint is totally anonymous, but in PrintMe Mobile 2.2 we created a way for users to identify themselves; access to specific printers can be authenticated against the mobile directory.” 

Offut says competitive solutions like Lantronix “are a good solution for a workgroup or small business, but not if you want centralized management across multiple subnets across buildings.” 

EFI is offering a free 45-day trial that covers an unlimited number of seats. There is no charge for the server software that EFI provides as a free download. Fees are based on the number of printers in the organization and range from $500 for just a few printers to less than $300/printer for companies that want to enable a higher volume of printers throughout the organization. 

EFI is also working with third parties such as PaperCut Software to offer additional printer management. 

“The explosion of tablets in the enterprise has created a serious challenge to tracking, managing and reporting print jobs,” said Chris Dance, CEO of PaperCut Software. “The standard AirPrint print job is anonymous and does not provide a way for companies to track who printed it. With PrintMe Mobile working together with PaperCut, companies can now bring mobile printing in line with their job accounting rules in order to properly account for print activity and reduce overall consumables.”

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