Printer configuration and job management via the Web have been possible for some time through Hewlett-Packard's Web-based version of its powerful JetAdmin software. However, it has always been the poor cousin of the Windows-based product. But the beta version of Web JetAdmin 3.0 indicates that this is about to change dramatically, bringing the Web product on par with the Windows version.
Web JetAdmin 3.0 provides full control over any HP printer—and limited control over any printer—that is managed by an HP JetDirect print server. If the printer type is "known" to the software and is accessible through an HP JetDirect server, then printer-configuration and job-management controls are made available using standard browser-based components.
Although the product provides strong management capabilities for these printers, you can't use the product if you don't have JetDirect servers. This is the key difference between the Web and Windows versions, because the latter allows you to manage printers directly attached to a system's local parallel port. Web JetAdmin requires that managed printers be attached to JetDirect cards or print servers.
However, Web JetAdmin does allow you to configure printers attached to JetDirect systems over IP or IPX. You won't have to replace all of your older JetDirect systems in order to take advantage of the enhanced management features.
Integrated Web server
Earlier versions of Web JetAdmin required that you have a Web server already in place on a Windows NT, Solaris, HP-UX, or OS/2.0 Warp Server system before you can install and use the printer-management software. Web JetAdmin 3.0 includes a native Web server that is easily installed and immediately available—with almost no server configuration required.
The integrated Web server also supports native security restrictions, allowing administrators to lock users out of the entire program or to restrict access to groups of printers and even individual printers on the network. However, because it's not integrated with existing Web servers, no advanced authentication is supported.
The new version includes printer descriptions for more than 70 different printers. Additionally, any printers that conform to the printer SNMP Management Information Base specification can also be monitored, and possibly managed, depending on the printer and the SNMP controls available to it. HP officials said that scanners will also be supported by the time Web JetAdmin 3.0 ships, although this functionality was not available in this beta release.
One of Web JetAdmin 3.0's more noticeable improvements is the expanded auto-discovery capability. Using this feature, the Web server locates all JetDirect devices on the network and queries them for printer information.
The printer status and details are returned to the user in one of four formats: as a graphical map of the network, or sorted by printer type, function, or capability. If a new device appears on the network, or if an existing device's status changes, this is reflected in the Web browser via the Web server's use of Java.
Once you have located the printers you wish to manage, you can modify them one at a time or use a new batch configuration option. This allows you to simultaneously modify the details of several printers. However, this option was not enabled in this beta version.
Although this version of Web JetAdmin is very powerful, it's not yet a replacement for Windows-based JetAdmin because it's limited to printers on JetAdmin servers.
This software provides real-time, extensive printer-management services using just a Web browser—a boon to remote or non-Windows users, but not a replacement for JetAdmin.