Press and workflow automation has been fairly stable since drupa 08. Going back to 2004, workflow solutions have evolved from separate systems controlling only part of the production process to those managing business-related information in a comprehensive fashion. "Printing using movable type...
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Also at drupa, Enfocus will show its newest iteration of Switch automation technology, which has undergone a metamorphosis, according to VP Prudhomme, thanks to a multipage ground-up restructuring of the product line. Its open architecture and neutral file format handling means it can seamlessly integrate with existing systems, software, and people. Built-in intelligence allows Switch to "see" deep inside of files, software, and workflows to maximize resources and to make existing workflows "intelligent." Now, instead of choosing between three versions of Enfocus Switch (Light, Full, and Power), customers can completely customize Switch according to their unique needs.
"Switch is a masterpiece of automation engineering," Prudhomme proclaimed. "But because it has always been ahead of its time, restructuring the range of Switch offerings has resulted in easier implementation by broader markets." With the help of focused market research, Enfocus teams worked for more than 12 months to make Switch easier to customize. "The system is fully scalable and can evolve with client needs, so that professionals utilize the building blocks they need, at least initially, and then use additional modules as their requirements change and grow," he explained.
The difference begins with a new, multi-purpose Switch Core Engine that not only serves as the necessary foundation for all Switch operations, but is now itself an automation solution for the most common, time-consuming tasks faced daily by all publishing production companies. Eight additional modules cover the market's most in-demand functions for intelligent connectivity with existing or new prepress, database and other applications.
"There are great numbers of people out there who understand how to really manipulate Switch," Prudhomme said, referring to several hundreds of existing customers ranging from small, local operations to mid-size and large organizations such as The Economist, Hallmark, and Playboy. A company's size truly does not matter, he concluded. "Small companies face the same challenges as big companies," Prudhomme noted, adding that is why there are scalable, flexible workflow solutions on today's market.
Hinderliter won't be a bit surprised if Enfocus announces more partners at drupa. "Switch is ideal even for people with high-end systems," he said, explaining how (starting at $1,900) it can function as a low-cost add-on for activities such as archival storage and PDF proofs on FTP sites that chew up server space.
When Cloudy Is (Virtually) Sunny
Application Software Provider (ASP) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) have been around for some time, but today it's all about web connectivity. In layman's terms, software developer Novell defines the cloud as "a set of services and technologies that enable the delivery of computing services over the Internet in real-time, allowing end-users instant access to data and applications from any device with Internet access." Content-management systems for publishers went to the cloud a few years ago, but the wind is swift and the clouds are moving fast. A printing infrastructure that runs in cyberspace enables people to take out steps in the process and work faster—without a lot of overhead. Cloud computing is a game-changer that has fundamentally altered the way in which data is stored, routed, and handled.
InfoTrends associate director Kaspar Roos has predicted that drupa 2012 will be a "cloud-heavy" show. Indeed, digital workflow developments in the cloud figure to be prominent in Dusseldorf next month. Here are three "cloudy" highlights that are quite bright:
- Hiflex, already showing its iPhone application at drupa 08, is taking the lead with its next major release of Hiflex MIS called version 2012 or "drupa-release." It will take the complete management information system to the cloud. In this way, both Hiflex MIS and Webshop can be entirely operated via the Internet and installed and executed on a server in a printer's facility (a "private cloud"), in an external data center ("public cloud"), or at the Hiflex Data Center. It took Hiflex almost three years to develop this new architecture for its existing solutions. Using the cloud will reduce the Total Cost of Ownership as users no longer need to invest in server hardware, facilities, or back-up solutions.
- Introduced in February, paper manufacturer UPM will show its first web/cloud-based ColorCTRL Service. The print workflow pilot project is powered by Dalim and managed by GMG's color-server technology.
- A world first for Screen at drupa will be the introduction of a cloud-based variable-data print (VDP) application that simplifies the production of VDP jobs and gives printers an investment-free entry into one of the fastest growing areas of printing. Designers and data owners can collaborate on projects via a standard web browser before the finished file is sent to the print provider (in Screen's case, Equios user). The service will be launched within the next 12 months, Screen said.