Axis Spins Off New Print Servers

In its effort to continually accommodate the variety of protocols found in today's increasingly heterogeneous network environments, Axis Communications Inc. introduces its 570e and 670e print servers for IBM midrange and mainframe systems. The 570e and 670e are designed to provide users with a choice between TN5250E and TN3270E print methods, in addition to support for SNA Character String (SCS) and, more significantly, IBM AFP/IPDS data streams.

More than simply upgraded hardware devices, the new print servers also incorporate Axis ThinWizard device management software, transforming the management of multiple print servers and other Axis products into a one-step process. The 570e and 670e enable high-speed AFP/IPDS printing over Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and Token-Ring networks without application changes, host-based conversion software or intermediate software.

Support for TN5250E and TN3270E is expected to enable AS/400 and mainframe users to migrate to TCP/IP printing while maintaining the management, job control and error reporting currently associated with SNA printing, according to Peter Hanson, business unit manager for Axis, a Sweden-based company with domestic offices in Woburn, Mass. In addition, AFP/IPDS data stream support will enable midrange and mainframe users to choose to print bar codes, form overlays or any AFP application to standard LAN-attached printers without burdening host CPU cycles. Such support will also speed the entire printing process.

ThinWizard is designed to automatically discover and map all Axis thin server devices on the network to the administrator for simultaneous viewing and updating. Axis thin server technology, upon which ThinWizard is based, is a combination of embedded software, optimized hardware and Web-based management designed to make it possible to attach devices to a network without a PC or file server.

Private Medical Inc. (PMI) Delta Dental recently implemented an Axis 570e to replace the company's existing AS/400 protocol converter. "Our executive staff wanted to be able to use the laser printers in the company for LAN printing and AS/400 printing," says Terri Thompson, infrastructure system administrator for the IS and technical services department of PMI Delta Dental (Cerritos, Calif.), a dental insurance company.

"We had two types of infrastructure -- Token-Ring and Ethernet -- and they wanted to have it just on the Ethernet," Thompson says. "They wanted to collapse Token-Ring and have for the user one printer where they could do Word documents as well as reports from the AS/400. They did not want any special escape sequences or proprietary escape sequences to be printed from the AS/400. Before, the GBT boxes required proprietary GBT escape sequences to be hard-coded into the output from the RPG applications."

Delta Dental now runs three different protocols (IPX, IP and SNA) and one frame type (8022) off of a single Axis 570e device. There are about 80 printers on the company's network, which also consists of AS/400, Novell and Windows NT servers, according to Thompson.

Another Axis customer -- Central Maine Power (Augusta, Maine) -- plans to step up from the Axis 570 and 670 devices it has been using for the past year. Peter Kennison, systems programmer at Central Maine Power, expects the new print servers' TCP/IP support will facilitate the company's migration to an IP-based network. "With the new functionality, the Axis product will now offer a wider variety of methods available to us to print from the host," he says.

Designed specifically for Ethernet environments, the 570e is priced at $899. The 670e -- for Token-Ring environments -- is priced at $999. Both print servers support OS/400, OS/390, Windows NT, Windows 95, OS/2 NetWare and more than 20 versions of Unix.