Cisco, Xerox Put Mobile Printing Into The Cloud

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Cisco and Xerox are teaming up to allow businesses to print from any device to any printer via the cloud

Cisco Systems and Xerox are partnering up to offer print services via the cloud through Cisco’s data centre technology.

At the Interop 2011 show in Las Vegas on 9 May, the two companies unveiled a partnership plan that will enable businesses to print from any device anywhere on any printer on the businesses’ networks. Through the alliance, “print becomes part of the managed network“, Rick Dastin, president of the Xerox Enterprise Business Group, said in an interview with eWEEK before the show opened.

Integration

Cisco will integrate print agents into its routers and switches – the first of which will be the ISR (Integrated Services Router) – to facilitate the printing services. The ISR is designed for SMBs and branch offices. The offering will leverage the technologies within Cisco’s Borderless Networks initiative, from WAN acceleration capabilities to speed up the printing process to security solutions to ensure the data is protected. Businesses also will be able to monitor and manage the mobile printing solution.

Businesses will be able to leverage the joint Cisco-Xerox offerings in multiple ways. They will be able to deploy the solution themselves via the Xerox MPS over Cisco Borderless Networks, with capabilities such as security, monitoring and WAN acceleration being run on Cisco technology. In addition, Xerox will offer Xerox Cloud ITO services that will be delivered via the cloud from Xerox data centres running Cisco technologies, such as the UCS (Unified Computing Systems) converged solution – which includes tightly integrated servers, storage, networking and virtualisation capabilities – and Vblock infrastructure.

In addition, mobile print software will be offered on Cisco’s Cius enterprise tablet and its Virtualisation Experience Client devices, which essentially is Cisco’s desktop virtualisation offering.

Cisco’s channel partners will be able to sell these offerings, which will become available at different times throughout the year.

The deal with Cisco builds on mobile printing efforts Xerox announced earlier this year and mirrors a similar partnership that rival Hewlett-Packard entered into with Google in March. In that instance, HP is enabling users of Google Cloud Print to print documents and other files to any HP ePrint-enabled printer from any device.

The deal with Cisco also furthers the printing giant’s services efforts, which took a big leap forward in 2009 when the company bought business process outsourcer Affiliated Computer Services, or ACS. At the time of the ACS purchase, Xerox officials said the acquisition would enable it to rapidly ramp up its services capabilities. It also came relatively soon after HP bought EDS and Dell acquired Perot Systems, part of a trend of major tech companies gathering services as a way to add recurring sources of revenue and give customers help with their increasingly complex IT environments.

Cloud computing

In addition, it gives the companies a way of taking advantage of the rapidly growing cloud computing trend.

For Xerox, the change has been good, according to Russell Peacock, president of Xerox’s North American operation. In an interview with eWEEK earlier this year, Peacock said the ACS acquisition is helping Xerox in its efforts to become more of a solutions company than a technology company. Xerox right now gets about 49 percent of its revenue from services, he said.

“It gives Xerox as a company a completely new way to look at the market,” Peakcock said, noting the new capabilities in such areas as BPO (business process outsourcing) that Xerox can now leverage. “We’re still proud of our heritage in the technology space, [and] we still spend a significant amount of money on R&D on [building technologies], but our company is changing.”

He said he senses that the rest of the industry is also embracing the change in Xerox.

“The view of the outside world, we hope, is more and more of Xerox as a player in the outsourcing space,” Peacock said.

‘The new Xerox’

Xerox Chairman and chief executive Ursula Burns reiterated that point during the company’s shareholders meeting on 10 May, where she spoke about opportunities in such areas as business services and document management.

“This is the new Xerox,” Burns said in a statement. “Today, we provide the most diverse set of services in the industry, offer the broadest portfolio of document technology, have a growing global customer base, and continue to invest in world-class innovation that brings differentiated value to customers.”

Xerox is continuing to look for a greater percentage of its revenue mix to come from services, which company officials should grow 6 to 8 percent by 2012. More than 90 percent of revenue from services is annuity-based, which they said offers Xerox a long-term revenue stream.

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