5 Things To Know About HP's Major Print Security And Software Update

New Enhancements For Print

HP Inc. is doubling down on its efforts to endow enterprise printing with modern security and software, with a series of announcements this week. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP has the largest worldwide market share for printer units sold, according to research firm IDC, and has been touting its print security capabilities as a key differentiator from competitors. The company is also looking to expand in areas such as bringing apps onto printers, which rivals such as Xerox have pushed aggressively into in recent years. This week, HP announced new printer security integrations with tools from Microsoft and McAfee along with the launch of new printer firmware that will enable greater app connectivity. What follows are five key things for solution providers to know about the announcements.

Security And Management Integrations

HP is integrating its printers with two new tools for printer management and security--Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and McAfee Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). HP says it's the first-ever printer integration with Microsoft SCCM—a dominant endpoint security manager in the enterprise for PCs—as well as one of the first printer integrations with McAfee SIEM. The integrations allow IT professionals "to manage endpoint security consistently across PC and print," said Tuan Tran, general manager of the Office Printing Solutions business at HP, in an interview with CRN. IT pros can now "manage the entire, end-to-end endpoint security for all their devices in consistent manner," Tran said.

Firmware Update

HP is also rolling out the next generation of its printer firmware, with the launch of HP FutureSmart 4. The firmware will cover both HP's core business of A4 printers, as well as its newer business in A3 printers. Key features of the new firmware include "serverless job accounting," which lets printers record analytics without the need for a central server and makes setup faster by mirroring print settings to new printers using USB. The new firmware also debuts "embedded fax over IP," so that faxes can be sent via existing VOIP infrastructure. Printers running FutureSmart firmware dating back to 2012 can be upgraded to FutureSmart 4, while the firmware is also included on new printers including the PageWide Color 755dn; PageWide Color MFP 774dn and dns; and PageWide Color MFP 779dn and dns. (The embedded fax over IP feature is available for devices dating back to 2015.)

Cloud-Based Apps

Another major feature of the FutureSmart 4 firmware is that it will enable printers to connect to six popular cloud-based apps – including Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, HP said. To date, "many of the apps that we've had in printers were very much resident apps, which needed a server to run," Tran said. With the new FutureSmart 4 firmware, HP has "changed that fundamental architecture to be all cloud-based," he said. "Basically, we'll have every printer connected to the cloud with a repository of apps."

Along with general-purpose apps such as Dropbox and OneDrive, the aim is also to connect HP printers to vertical-specific apps for institutions such as hospitals and law firms, Tran said. Rather than always needing to log into their PC, "they can have all of their access from their MFP to their cloud apps"--taking out a lot of legwork at many paper-oriented institutions, he said.


New Analytics

In addition, HP is rolling out a new "immersive analytics service" as a component of its Business Intelligence Services, in order to provide an improved view of customers' print environments. The service provides a look into important factors such as where printing is taking place, print volume and utilization of color--and ultimately provides guidance such as how to optimize print jobs and how to ensure balanced deployment across locations, Tran said.

Partner Opportunities

The new moves in printer security and software can all help solution providers to drive improved relationships—including more selling and services opportunities—with customers, Tran said. The integration of HP printers with key enterprise tools "allows the channel to have a conversation with customers around security," he said. "And that conversation can lead to services that they can layer on top, and lead to people wanting to upgrade their current fleet to make sure they have the latest security features. There's a customer benefit message, and ultimately for the channel partner there's an incremental business opportunity for them."

Likewise, for channel partners that have sold HP products over time, they can "go back to their customers with the new FutureSmart firmware release, to continue to provide value to the customer after the sale," Tran said. "It's a conversation starter for them."