IPS Eases IPDS Printing with OnePrint G2 for Windows
by Alex Woodie
Integrated Print Solutions unveiled a new product last week that allows companies to use standard Windows-connected printers to print Advanced Function Printing (AFP) jobs originating on iSeries and mainframe servers. By encapsulating AFP's Intelligent Print Data Stream (IPDS) into good old Internet Protocol (IP) packets, OnePrint G2 for Windows enables users to gain the benefits of IBM's high-end AFP architecture, but without the high cost of AFPDS printers.
IPS has been in the IPDS-conversion business for some time. The Richardson, Texas, company has a couple of hundred customers using its OnePrint ServerExpress appliance, which combines IPDS print conversion with a Pentium-class PC. It also sells a software product called OnePrint ClientExpress, but it is limited to supporting a single local printer.
OnePrint G2 for Windows breaks the barriers imposed by the predecessors in the OnePrint line. First, it is software based, and therefore allows customers to install it on any X86-based machine of their choosing, as long as it's running Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003. Secondly, it supports a much greater number of printers than OnePrint ServerExpress.
In fact, one of the beta testers of the product has supported more than 250 printers from a single instance of OnePrint G2 for Windows, company officials say. And in tests at IPS, OnePrint G2 for Windows was able to support 500 printers from a four-way machine, says Julian Leibowitz, president and CEO of IPS.
Leibowitz says companies are rediscovering the power and cost efficiency of AFP printing. "Of all the printing protocol, nothing comes close to AFP/IPDS. It's very efficient, reliable, and offers a lot of capability," he says. "You can do very interesting things with AFP. You can save a lot of money by not using pre-printed forms."
Because AFP stores a copy of the template on the printer, and only sends the text and data that changes with each document, it makes better use of bandwidth between the printer and the server, and is therefore faster on big print runs. The other benefit is the two-way IPDS communication between the printer and the server. If there's a problem with page 50, and the print job needs to restart, it doesn't start back at page 1, but picks up where it left off with page 50.
OnePrint G2 for Windows lets users enjoy the benefits of the AFP architecture at a cost they can afford. "IBM is pushing customers to have it all centralized. 'Go to the big printer in the printer room'" for an AFP job, Leibowitz says. "Now, you can just print it on your desk jet."
Organizations can use any ASCII laser, ink jet, or bubble jet printer with OnePrint G2 for Windows, which utilizes Windows' print server software, and features a Web-based management console. OS/400 and mainframe servers don't know they're printing to a Windows printer because OnePrint G2 mimics an AFP printer and communicates with the server using IPDS.
Customers should not be dissuaded from using Windows for critical print jobs, Leibowitz says. "Windows Print Manager never loses a job. Windows does the intelligent part. . . .You don't have the true end-to-end connectivity [as you would with a native AFP printer], but you don't lose jobs."
OnePrint G2 for Windows was developed by LogNet Information Technologies, an Israeli software company. IPS is the exclusive North American distributor for OnePrint G2 for Windows.
In 2003, IPS announced--but never delivered--a product called OnePrint G2 for Linux. The company says that product is now back in development and will be available later this year.
While OnePrint G2 Windows replaces OnePrint ServerExpress as the flagship AFP print converter for IPS, the company has no plans currently to retire OnePrint ServerExpress any time soon. One feature that OnePrint ServerExpress has that OnePrint G2 Windows does not is support for SNA. Some of IPS' clients have many printers still successfully using the SNA protocol, so discontinuing support for that product would have a negative affect on customer relations.
OnePrint G2 for Windows is available now; pricing starts at $800 per printer. For more information visit IPS' Web site at www.ipslc.com.