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We’re all in favor of making printing easier. And when a new solution does that while also supporting an IT department’s zero-infrastructure and zero-trust network initiatives, you definitely have our attention. That’s the hat trick Toshiba America Business Solutions has pulled off with its new e-BRIDGE Global Print offering. Part of the company’s Elevate Sky cloud platform of MFP-centric apps and utilities, Global Print aims to simplify the printing process for end users and IT personnel alike.
Toshiba calls it “radical print simplicity”—a user’s print jobs are submitted to a single cloud-resident print queue, and are released at any supported Toshiba printer with the e-BRIDGE Global Print applet installed. End users don’t have to worry about finding the right printer in a list of available printers (usually with arcane device names), seeing if they have its print driver installed, IP addresses, or any of that noise. In the bargain, end users gain secure print release functionality whereby a print jobs remains in the cloud queue (safe from prying eyes) until the user authenticates at the desired printer to release the job. This not only keeps printouts secure, it also cuts down on wasteful printing since jobs that are not needed are not printed in the first place.
IT personnel, meanwhile, don’t have to hassle with print servers, print queues, assigning devices, or distributing drivers. And since Global Print is hosted—the platform resides on Microsoft Azure servers and is managed by Toshiba—it plays right into the zero-infrastructure environments many IT departments are striving for. Global Print also supports zero-trust security initiatives, since it requires that every user authenticate at each step.
While Global Print isn’t a “first of its kind” solution, our back-of-the-napkin analysis shows it has some advantages over some other secure-pull-print and/or cloud-print platforms. First and foremost is easy deployment and setup; Toshiba claims a customer can be up and running in 15 minutes. Also (unlike some solutions) when releasing a job, users have access to all the print capabilities of the device’s native driver for things such as duplexing and finishing. Some cloud print solutions default to a lowest common denominator print driver. And then there’s the attractive pricing model: Global Print carries an MSRP of $720 per device for the life of the device. No separate server licenses, user licenses, or perpetual monthly X-as-a-service fees like most competitors. Amen!
As with any v1.0 offering, there are a few features we would like to see added (or things that might be less than ideal). First, note that the platform converts all print jobs to PDF files in the cloud before sending them down to the target printer. While that is fine for the vast majority of office documents, there will be the occasional document type where PDF is not a great substitute. Also, right now, Global Print supports printing only from Windows, Mac, and ChromeOS desktops and laptops; there is no iOS nor Android mobile OS support (yet). And, unlike some cloud print solutions, Global Print only works with Toshiba’s own print devices, whereas some solutions support printers from multiple OEMs.
We’ll let you know our full opinion of the solution once we’ve had a chance to test it. But our quick take is that e-BRIDGE Global Print is worth a look for any organization that has Toshiba MFPs in the mix.
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