Pharos Launches ‘Beacon,’ a New Cloud-Based Print-Management System with Real-Time Analytics

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Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Last week, Keith Nickloff, president of print-management specialist Pharos Systems, invited Wirth Consulting to a personal preview of Pharos Systems’ latest innovation, Beacon, which Pharos is introducing today. Beacon is a cloud-based print-management solution that Pharos calls a revolutionary print-management and optimization platform for corporate, government, and higher education. The cloud-based platform with a central dashboard has been in development for the past three years at Pharos. “Beacon is a clean-sheet platform designed to make print the way our customers want it to be,” commented Pharos CEO Kevin Pickhardt.

According to Pharos, before Beacon, collecting and presenting key printing and usage metrics could take days and sometimes weeks. As a consequence, many organizations rely on quarterly business reviews to assess what’s going with their print fleets. Pharos says that with Beacon, that time is now reduced to minutes and hours.  Beacon, which is vendor-neutral, aggregates information for nine categories: print volume, users, print cost, applications, color printing, duplex printing, devices, job characteristics, and “green” eco-friendly metrics.  Each provides for drilling down and multiple layers of views and analysis, and custom reporting by category. Beacon also reports on user printing activity by:

  • Day, week, month, year,
  • Manager, department, region, floor, and building.
  • By user, and by black-and-white and color printing.
  • By printing using various paper sizes, including A3, A4, etc.
  • By MFP, standalone-printer, desktop, and direct IP address.
  • By MFP and printer vendors, and by MFP and printer make and model.
  • By IP address, by MAC address, host name, and serial number.
  • By toner levels, and by toner color.

Beacon also provides trackable mobile printing via a Web-based portal, and email and desktop submission. The platform is aimed at any organization that chooses to manage their printing. In practice, Pharos says that means end-user organizations with more than 50 output devices and 500 users – and up to Pharos’ current enterprise clients with hundreds of thousands of users. The product is also designed for managed print service (MPS) providers, from dealers to print output-equipment manufacturers who can view customer usage data via the cloud. Beacon can also route printer alerts through popular service-management solutions used by dealers and MPS providers.

In sum, Beacon can track the usage of virtually any printer or MFP from any vendor, from networked-connected to directly-connected, via a deployable client applet and can operate in conjunction with a network server and/or the cloud. Printer discovery is automatic, as each printer is automatically entered into the Beacon database the first time that it’s used. The database of users can be imported from virtually any source, including Microsoft’s Active Directory. Consequently, setup and maintenance is comparable to that of virtually any other print-management solution.

While the Beacon platform is installed at over 120 customer sites today, and at several higher-education and corporate institutions, full availability will be later this summer, at which time pricing will be announced. Beacon will be provided on a subscription-service basis.

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The Beacon dashboard.

“We have seen very little change in the fundamental technology surrounding print in the last couple decades”, commented Pharos’ Chief Technology Officer Fred Schempp, “but we believe the next few years will result in dramatic change that will reset customer’s expectations and experience of printing. We expect to be a catalyzing force for this change.”

“The Beacon platform has been in the market supporting OEM partners since 2013 rebranded for their needs,” added Schempp. “We have already set a new bar for ease of use and scope of functionality.” Pharos is currently in discussion with several other partner organizations looking to license and brand all or parts of the Beacon platform.

“Early customer feedback has been phenomenal. What took weeks before has been reduced to minutes. The world is moving quickly to real-time access, big data, and intelligent analytics. Beacon has been designed to provide instant access to a master dashboard that integrates comprehensive printer, document, and user data. The dashboard presents the most important metrics within a print environment and easy drill-down analysis of those metrics to help get at the core of what drives results.“ Pharos says the Beacon platform scales up and down, opening up new channels for Pharos in small and mid-size business (SMB) markets and with the dealers serving those markets.

Paul Reddy, co-founder of Pharos, commented, “The best thing about our Beacon platform is that it is designed to integrate with our traditional on-premise products, Uniprint and Blueprint. We have thousands of customers who have been instrumental in the design of the platform. It is our intent to guide our current and future customers toward the path of best migration on-premise, cloud or hybrid. In the end, our customers have asked us to simplify and reduce their infrastructure. We are answering.”

Pharos is also launching Uniprint 9.0, with a new Web-based Student Print Portal that Pharos says brings the power of print management to any connected device for the millions of students who use Uniprint today. Uniprint 9.0 is pre-enabled to integrate with Pharos’ Beacon analytics dashboard, providing university customers with the ability to see what’s happening in real time with their print fleets anywhere on campus.

For more information on Beacon, contact Pharos Systems at sbordin@pharos.com.

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