Earlier this week, SMB Nation reported that Xerox released ConnectKey, its newest software system embedded in Xerox multifunction printers. According to the company, 16 ConnectKey MFPs– including the new WorkCentre 5800 and 7800 Series – will use the industry’s first embedded security protection from McAfee, giving IT managers more control and peace of mind in BYOD workplaces. ConnectKey MFPs also have an extra layer of security with Cisco’s TrustSec, which protects data paths to and from the devices.
Because ConnectKey is largely focused on the SMB community and the solution providers who service them, we wanted to know more in terms of how this solution will benefit our community. To gain additional insight, I spoke yesterday with Tom Gall, Xerox’s Value Channel Marketing Director, who offered his thoughts on ConnectKey as well as the managed print services market as a whole. “This new offering (ConnectKey) makes it easier for our partners to support their customers, Gall told me. “We are trying to help their customers and their employees in their everyday activities.”
When I asked Gall about the strategy behind ConnectKey, he said that is was comprised of several different moving parts, but one of the main components was the upward trend of mobility in our space. “Mobility caught everyone by surprise in terms of how fast it has grown,” he said. “Solution providers are catching up to that, and to some degree, a lot of the workflows in business aren’t leveraging all of the technologies out there.”
Gall added that ConnectKey’s workflow component will be a huge game-changer for SMBs and partner alike. “With all of the devices currently out there, there is a change in how companies support their workflows,” he said. “We have been working on this for some time, not just the mobility side, but also the ways they can utilize our products as more than just a printer through access to the cloud, access to information and how partners can help customer with their workflows.”
While we were on the subject of mobility, I asked Gall for his thoughts on the whole BYOD phenomenon and how ConnectKey will be playing into this trend. “We want to help customers print anywhere from any mobile device from anywhere to their infrastructure,” he said. “This is regardless of whether it is a Xerox or non-Xerox device…with ConnectKey we can allow this to happen.”
I also asked Gall to address why Xerox chose to work specifically with McAfee and Cisco for the security components of ConnectKey: The solution comes equipped with McAfee’s security platform as well as an extra layer of security with Cisco’s TrustSec, which protects data paths to and from the devices. “If you are a solution provider, you obviously have a lot of trust in these companies and their reputations, (McAfee and Cisco) and security is of huge importance to you,” he said. "These devices are embedded devices, not meant to change the software, so we have to protect it. Through McAfee we only let the pieces of software or files that go to device that are allowed to go there and allow them to be printed.”
Gall added that via the Cisco TrustSec solution, the network can better-understand what the issues are with the device, and gives both the partner and customer confidence that everything is working the way that it should as it relates to their networks.
So most importantly, how will ConnectKey help SMBs and MSPs alike? Gall noted that the whole concept behind ConnectKey is about the personalization, flexibility and customization. “It’s about the technology and the usability, that is the key part for customers and partners,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, partners are always trying to increase their monthly recurring revenue, and we want them to consider print as part of that.”