Launching the S900
series (see our Machines section of December 11 2013) means Hewlett Packard
is broadening its high-volume range. This means their Managed Print Services (MPS) offer is wider too, now including machines for in-house print shops.
has become one of the main IT infrastructure providers since they bought Compaq, thus inheriting DEC, over 10 years ago.
Their IT customers among medium and large businesses have substantial printer fleets to manage too.
These customers want to outsource low value-added tasks, hence their increased interest in MPS.
They are also expecting to be able to automate and to optimize more business processes using software which is already available, but evolving very fast - and with which the copier fleet needs to be compatible: solutions for document capture and workflow, fleet management, print and document security, enterprise content management, customer relations management, production management (ERP) - not to mention the plethora of vertical-specific company systems.
HP wants to meet to these requirements, and needs a flexible MFP software development platform to do so.
Our partner Andy Slawetsky of Industry Analysts
asked Pradeep Jatwani, Senior VP, HP LaserJet and Enterprise Management why HP have selected Sharp, given the existing relationship with Canon
(HP resells imageRUNNER ADVANCE machines). Pradeep's answer was, HP found Sharp's development platform particularly easy to work with.
The development platform is the part of the copier controller that third-party software can be installed on. Sharp's is known as OSA
. "O" stands for "Open." OSA is one of the web-services platforms, whereas Canon's MEAP
is a Java-based platform. Java is rock-solid stable, but is famously tricky to develop on (requires expensive developers for long periods of time, and, crucially, apps running on MEAP need to be tested and authorized by Canon ...).
HP will probably rename OSA on the rebadged Sharps, and will then be able to leverage the wealth of software which is available from the world's leading providers, develop their own, and can even allow third parties to pitch in.
So HP needed Sharp. And especially given the last couple of years, Sharp needs HP too.