Xerox ConnectKey Platform Allows VARs To Embed Apps

Xerox has introduced a new software platform embedded in its multifunction printers that allow solution providers, ISVs and more to develop and implement apps that can help customers around mobility, cloud, big data and other workflow areas, according to the company.

The ConnectKey system is available on 16 MFPs including the WorkCentre 5800 and 7800 series, which also include new embedded security from McAfee, according to Xerox.

Rick Dastin, president of Xerox's Office and Solutions Business Group, explained the new functionality as "ecosystems for simplicity."

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Xerox's strategy is to build up a software platform to lift the company's value proposition "above the box" and to enable users to look at Xerox as more than a print provider.

"We will transform the way work gets done," Dastin said. "We will have our devices be integral to the new world [of mobility, cloud and big data]. We're moving from peripheral to integral with software to make everything more relevant."

For example, the embedded McAfee technology will give IT managers more control and peace of mind in BYOD workplaces, according to the company. In addition, ConnectKey devices also come with Cisco Systems' TrustSec technology, which protects data paths to and from devices, according to Cisco.

"As people get more mobile, there are concerns around confidentiality of documents. They're not just worried about box, but also end-to-end security management," Dastin said. "With McAfee intrusion detection built into the system, if you don't have a mobile device configured and totally managed correctly, McAfee can detect it and stop that malware from executing [on the device or network]. It's the same with Cisco. You can manage the device like the way you manage a PC or server. The MFP is just another device on the network. It should have all the management tools as a PC or server."

NEXT: Redefining MFPs

Meanwhile, the ConnectKey platform features an open API to allow channel partners to develop and embed their own apps on the MFP with no additional software requirements.

Any app developed for ConnectKey must receive a "digital signature," i.e., be certified by Xerox, and the developer will be able to monetize that app by placing it in a marketplace that Xerox plans to launch later this year, Dastin said.

"The solution provider can upload that app to the marketplace. [With] the pricing model, we're looking for solution providers to monetize it mostly on their own. We're trying to incent solution providers to develop apps and get the monetization of that," Dastin said.

Xerox also plans an "app studio," where users can partner with developers to customize and tailor apps themselves for a fee, he said.

"We're really trying to redefine MFPs. We all know where print is headed. We're moving the MFP from a printer to a documents system. It's important to drive that with things like the ConnectKey software platform where you're able to move from where you would print and distribute hard copies, then email and print, to where you can, with mobility, access a document and collaborate," Dastin said. "Just as we moved from single-function phones to smartphones to collaboration tools, we see our MFPS in the same way. This is the beginning to extract connectivity around the box and not be constrained by print."