Printers get one IP address for wired, wireless links

The latest print server software from Paxar Corporation now lets network administrators assign a single IP address to cover the printer's twin network interfaces, wired and wireless Ethernet.

With the new software, Paxar's Monarch 9800 line of RFID and barcode printers can use as needed either a wired Ethernet or a 802.11b/g WLAN, without any manual reconfiguration.

The updated software, loaded in the network interface module called the 7411 Ethernet Print Server, is an option for new and some recent Monarch printer models. Other enhancements in the new release are:

-- Support for IPv6 128-bit addressing.

-- Improved wireless LAN security.

-- Support for 54Mbps 802.11g .

-- Support for XML schemas used by Oracle's Warehouse Management System and Mobile Supply Chain applications.

The 7411 module has separate Ethernet and WLAN interfaces, linked to the module's 32-bit network processor. But they share a single MAC address. As a result, one IP address applies to whichever net connection is active. The printer uses one or the other at any given time. If one interface should fail, the printer automatically begins using the second and keeps running.

"If one of the network links fails, now you don't need an IT guy to come and fix things so you can print that label," says Andy Evans, Paxar's product manager for networking and connectivity, at Paxar, based in White Plains, N.Y. The Monarch printers are manufactured by Paxar's Ohio-based barcode and RFID systems division.

By contrast, Evans says, a typical laptop user likewise has both Ethernet and WLAN interfaces. But shifting between them takes time and effort.

Twin network interfaces provide a higher level of reliability. Tagging products with printed barcodes and, increasingly, with RFID tags is considered mission critical, according to Evans. "If you can't print the label, you can't ship the product," he says.

Security is improved in the new release with support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2, which supports the Advanced Encryption System. Paxar also added support for the 802.1x authentication standard and a broad range of Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) techniques. The software also supports certificated-based techniques such as TTLS.

Available now, the 7411 is an option for the Monarch 9855, 9855RFMP, and 9860 printers. List price is US$575. Upgrade pricing varies, depending on whether it's done onsite or at a Paxar depot. Price for a depot-level upgrade for an existing, non-networked models above is US$750.

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