Insights from the industry
When Printing Is a Crucial Function
How important is printing to your enterprise? If most of the documents your company prints are personal or workgroup documents, then your server OS's native spooling function is probably sufficient for those needs. But if your business depends on the documents that land in your printers' output trays (think pick tickets and medical records), then you're functioning in the realm of print management—or what Plus Technologies (http://www.plustechnologies.com), a division of Digital Controls, calls "output management."
In a conversation with Joel Vedder of Plus Technologies, I learned about OMPlus, the company's advanced print spooling software.
Sitting on the print queue between enterprise applications and printers, OMPlus manages print jobs from the time they're sent to the printer until well after they've been printed. The software will route jobs around failed devices, load-balance across printers, confirm that a job landed in an output tray (even if the tray is on another continent), burst and bundle documents, deliver print jobs to email or fax servers, and automatically fail over to backup printers. OMPlus doesn't automatically purge documents after printing but lets authorized users perform additional functions. To manage diverse OS environments, OMPlus runs on Windows, Linux, and UNIX, without requiring any modification to back-end servers.
I could easily see the value of the software to large healthcare-related companies such as hospitals and clinics, and to logistics and manufacturing businesses, but wouldn't it be overkill for a small-to-midsized business (SMB)? Joel replied that SMBs successfully use OMPlus as Help desk software. The application's notification features, automated failover capability, permission-based security, forms management, archiving capability, and centralized control help SMBs recover some of the time support personnel typically spend on the large percentage of Help desk calls that are printing-related.
Network Appliance Presents New SMB Division
Small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) face a number of challenges created by limited budgets, staff, and knowledge. In no area are these challenges more apparent than the storage realm. With increasing amounts of data and various storage technologies such as NAS and SAN to consider, SMBs can find it difficult to sort through the choices. After talking with Sajai Krishnan, general manager of Network Appliance's StoreVault division (http://www.storevault.com), I learned that Network Appliance has made a huge commitment to help SMB customers. "The new StoreVault division was created with the SMB customer in mind. And because we have typically focused on enterprise customers, almost 90 percent of the StoreVault division staff was brought from the outside to help better serve our new customers." Krishnan says that StoreVault was created for IT generalists—people who work on all aspects of IT. "With the introduction of the StoreVault S500 appliance, new technologies—iSCSI, SAN, and NAS—are wrapped into one platform scaling from 1TB to 6TB and can be set up with no previous knowledge." According to Krishnan, a Fibre Channel SAN add-on kit will be available in fall 2006. The StoreVault S500 appliance also ships with Data ONTAP StoreVault Edition software, which comes with a number of data-protection features to help you manage your data.