HP makes printing easier, secure in BYOD environments

HP is adding NFC and Wi-Fi Direct printing features to new office printers

Using mobile devices for one-off printing tasks on office printers may not be a big deal, but Hewlett-Packard is trying to mitigate any security risk through direct wireless printing features it is bringing to enterprise printers.

HP is adding NFC (near-field communication) and Wi-Fi Direct to its new color LaserJet printers so mobile devices can establish a wireless connection directly to a printer without being logged into an office network. The printer establishes a peer-to-peer connection to tablets or smartphones, and users can send a print command direct to a printer within proximity.

The goal is to provide everyone in an office easy access to a printer, and keep rogue smartphones and tablets from a corporate network, said Todd Gregory, director at HP's Personal and Printing Systems group.

Increasingly, office printers are being used to print personal documents, but rogue devices can be a security hazard in bring-your-own-device environments, Gregory said. The new peer-to-peer printing features can make BYOD environments easier to manage while ensuring document security on corporate networks.

"There is this balance between how do we protect the environment and how we enable access for temp employees, contractors, or even our own employees that have certain types of work that I don't want floating around," Gregory said.

Many printers are usually connected behind a firewall to the document workflow system, with security measures in place to print and access documents. A direct connection to printers through NFC or Wi-Fi Direct is independent of the firewall, and also spares system administrators from putting permissions in place in mobile-device-management software.

The new color laser printers introduced by HP on Monday have an independent module with Wi-Fi Direct and NFC that physically attaches to the printer and can be easily snapped out. Once snapped out, the peer-to-peer printing features cannot be used.

One of the new printers is the Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M680. The printer can render 45 pages per minute, and costs US$0.01 per grayscale page and $0.07 for each color page. New algorithms and technologies help squeeze more pages per cartridge, HP said. It has a keyboard and an 8-inch color touch panel. The printer will ship next month and be priced between $3,649 and $5,899. The MFP can also scan, copy and fax.

NFC features are also in the Color LaserJet Enterprise M651, which is only for printing. It will be available next month starting at $1,349.

HP is also offering software to secure printing. HP announced the ePrint Enterprise 3.2 app for mobile devices, which adds security layers before users are allowed to print either through a peer-to-peer connection or over a Wi-Fi network.

In addition, the new printers also support Mopria, a plug-in designed to make wireless printing via Android 4.4 a simple affair.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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