A documented success

If your department or agency is like most, chances are you deal with a lot of documents. Although the largest organizations have the flexibility and the budget to buy enterprise-class document management and delivery solutions, smaller agencies often have to settle for much less, which often means the manual method.

The bottom line is that end users — whether they are other agencies, other departments or even other individuals — expect and require reliable delivery of documents to and from a variety of media, including fax machines, e-mail and even the Internet or an intranet.

Thanks to the efforts of Hewlett-Packard Co. and its recently acquired software company, Dazel Corp., users now have a cost-effective solution that unifies output delivery and management of files, faxes and e-mail messages across an organization via the HP Document Router.

Best described as a plug-and-play output management appliance, HP's Document Router combines hardware and software to enable users to reliably deliver information to almost any output device or destination. This can be done from any application using standard file print commands on Microsoft Corp. Windows or line printer commands on Unix, AS/400 or other mainframe systems.

As the device is meant to be affordable and scalable, we were pleased to find HP offering its users several choices and upgrade paths. The low-end Model 2010, priced modestly at $12,000, enables up to 1,000 jobs a day from about 100 users, with up to 40 devices and four fax ports. Those requiring higher usage levels or more devices will find the Model 2090 — and its 10,000 jobs a day from 800 users, 300 devices and eight fax ports — also priced appropriately at around $70,000.

The Document Router supports an array of platforms (see box, above right). For those employing the Web as a destination, the product supports almost as many Web servers as it does platforms, including Sun Micro-systems Inc. and Netscape Communications Corp.'s iPlanet, Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS) and the Apache Software Foundation HTTP Server.

The unit, intended for rack mounting, measures 3.5 inches tall by 17 inches wide by 28 inches deep. We found the installation of the appliance extremely easy, requiring only eight easy-to-follow steps, the hardest being the input of the device's IP address, subnet mask and gateway. With our definitions complete, we needed only to launch a browser, point it to the newly assigned IP address location and begin our prompted software setup.

Once connected to the router, we found the interface unencumbered and composed of only two panes. We performed all configuration and administrative tasks using a control window on the left. An action window was on the right; it displayed and enabled selections of the tasks from the left. As with the hardware, we found software setup easy. In fact, thanks to the simple interface, we quickly defined and configured each destination device. Those with many printers will be glad to know that the solution also comes with a device-discovery function.

Throughout our testing, one of the most appealing aspects of the device was its ability to retry delivery until successful and notify us of its success or failure.

In all, we found the HP Document Router a truly wonderful product, worthy of any agency or department. Its low cost and high usability make it a best buy.

Fielden is a frequent contributor and senior analyst with the InfoWorld Test Center. He can be reached at tim_fielden@infoworld.com.

REPORT CARD

HP Document Router

Grade: A

Hewlett-Packard Co.
(800) 357-8357
www.documentrouter.com

Price: Model 2010 costs $12,000, Model 2040 is $40,000, and Model 2090 is $70,000.

Remarks: Departments or agencies looking for a cost effective, powerful document management and delivery system would do well to consider HP's Document Router. Not only does it simplify management of numerous devices needed for today's business, it does so in an unintrusive fashion.

MORE INFO

The supporting cast

Clients

Microsoft Corp. Windows 95/98, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0.

Hewlett-Packard Co. Unix (10.20 and 11.0), Sun Microsystems Inc.

Solaris (2.6, 2.7, and 2.8) and IBM Corp. AIX (4.2.1, 4.3.2 and 4.3.3).

Line printer requester interface on AS/400, Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh,

MVS, Novell Inc. NetWare and other Unix and mainframe operating systems.

Output devices

Network-attached printers from HP, Lexmark International Inc., Xerox

Corp. and others.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol e-mail servers.

Intranet Web servers (Sun-Netscape Communications Corp. alliance's

iPlanet Web server, Microsoft Internet Information Server).

Connections

Power, 10Base-T/100Base-TX network port, 4 or 8 RJ-11 modular connectors.

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