Lexmark has unveiled three new Lexmark Cloud Services on a new purpose-built cloud platform, with more services to come. While one service, Lexmark Cloud Print Management, is direct, the other two are channel, provided free for partners to offer, and where they fully control the contracting with the customer.
Lexmark has announced the availability of Lexmark Cloud Services, a new suite of cloud service solutions. Three services are available at launch, although Lexmark intends to expand the portfolio. One of the offerings, Lexmark Cloud Print Management, is a direct play, while other two will have broad channel applicability. Lexmark Cloud Fleet Management is the one that will likely interest the most partners. It lets them remotely manage devices at customer locations, updating firmware, apps and settings from any location. Lexmark Cloud Connector, the other service, lets organizations access, store and print documents from popular content sharing sites, utilizing a capability that has already been added to newer Lexmark printers.
“Lexmark Cloud Services is a net-new offering for us, which we have spent the last couple of years developing,” said Eric McCann, Software Product Marketing Manager for Lexmark. “It is a true cloud solution, and multi-tenanted.”
The services are designed to support very large customers at the high end of the market, but McCann said it isn’t limited to that, and maximizes the channel opportunity by being able to effectively offer the services to smaller customers as well.
“We built the Cloud Services platform the way we did to scale regardless of the amount of users,” he said. “We have one partner on it who is trying it on one customer who has one printer. We have another with a customer with over 100,000 users. It is meant to scale up and down the channel.”
Lexmark Cloud Fleet Management is specifically designed to make Lexmark partner technicians more productive by giving them secure remote access to their customers’ Lexmark devices within an easy-to-use portal.
“This was designed based on partner feedback,” McCann said. “They told us that they wanted a portal where they can see all devices and manage them. Through the portal, they can collect page count, get toner levels, restart and configure devices, and do troubleshooting. The partner can set up multiple organizations within the portal, so they can set it up to look at printers by specific customers.”
The key for the partners is the ability to do servicing without the need for truck rolls.
“The real differentiator is that they can do it all through the portal,” McCann said. “An embedded agent that regularly phones home to see if it has new orders provides the partner with the flexibility without having to travel onsite. Partners need the data collected from the device, and they need it without having to go on site. This service solves those two issues.”
Lexmark has soft-launched the fleet management service over the last couple of months, trying to get partners to try the tool, and McCann said they have onboarded many of them.
“Cloud Fleet Management is a tool that we really want our partners to use,” McCann said. “It’s the purpose-built cloud element that really has people excited. Partners are immediately starting to use it, and we expect that to continue and spread. We have made managed print services offerings available to the channel before, but with this offering, we have asked the channel what they wanted. We also have a had a road map to bring more enterprise functionality from our MPS services into this, like predicting when toner will be empty, so that they will be available to everybody.”
The other service aimed at the channel, Lexmark Cloud Connector, lets organizations access, store and print documents from popular content sharing sites like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
“It is similar to Netflix in how it works,” McCann said. “You select the service you want to use, enter the account, and you are saved on the device. Once you are saved you can access and print from a service, or scan and upload to it.”
The technology for Cloud Connector is already standard on all devices that Lexmark ships, and can be accessed through the portal.
McCann indicated that both Cloud Connector and Cloud Fleet Management are services which Lexmark itself won’t make money from, where the partners will handle dealing with customers.
“Both are free offers for partners,” he said. “Lexmark itself isn’t involved in any contracts. The partner does the contracting directly. We enroll the partner in them, and once that is done, they can create their own organizations of their customers and keep asset tags of all their devices.”
The other service, Lexmark Cloud Print Management, is a direct service.
“A lot of large enterprises want to outsource their IT and print infrastructure, but still like having things on-prem, especially for compliance reasons,” McCann said. “Lexmark Cloud Print Management has a hybrid option, which is a net-new for us. It lets the customer store a job locally, and when they select secure print release, it locally pulls the job across to the printer in an encrypted fashion.”
McCann said that Lexmark thought that the market for Cloud Print Management would take a while to develop, but that it has exceeded expectations.
“We planned for it to ramp up narrowly, so that we would be able to fully understand the requirements,” he said. “We expected slow adoption as people would have to get comfortable. But we have found that enterprises have been through the change curve here already, and they are ready for this.”
All the Lexmark Cloud Services leverage real-time analytics, to provide a snapshot of all printing, copying and scanning activity across the enterprise.
“The analytics core is common across all services, although they are utilized in a way that is specific to each,” McCann said. “Cloud Fleet Management can do a device-level historical view around supplies and toner, to see if they are being replaced at the interval the partner wants. They can get a timeline approach they never had before.
“As we bring on board additional services, the analytics will scale along with them, so partners will be able to see how the fleet is being used,” McCann added.