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LaserNet Counts on Barr - To Make Every Second Count

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When your company prints millions of pages every month, the old adage that "every second counts" becomes a literal truth. But when all of that print is for paying customers who rely on you to print their invoices and statements, you've got more than truth, you've got a mission—and a responsibility to match. You've simply got to make every second count to keep your customers satisfied.

So how do you do that? Take a cutting-edge outsource document management company like LaserNet, Inc., whose business is improving and streamlining document processing in all its many varieties. They turned to Barr Systems for high-volume, high-speed print management and data communications solutions.

"Barr Systems has reasonably priced products that are easy to install and use, saving us valuable production time," says Mark Gilson, president of LaserNet, a company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. With Barr solutions onboard, LaserNet accepts 25 gigabytes of data, resulting in more than five million printed pages in a typical month—effortlessly, without a hitch.

Workloads like that might crush less capable outsource companies, especially considering the many types of incoming and outgoing data that need to be managed. That's why Ron Snyder, director of technology at LaserNet, chose the Barr Enterprise Print Server as the cornerstone of the company's print infrastructure.

"Barr Systems provided LaserNet with one of the most reliable and versatile products for the collection and management of production data on the market," Snyder says. "The Barr Enterprise Print Server provides sorting and management of thousands of print jobs daily."

Now, when Snyder says data collection, he means data in just about every form you can imagine. With more than 20 production printers in Milwaukee and Green Bay, and customers throughout the United States, LaserNet's information infrastructure is complex. It involves Barr installations at different sites, working with several mainframes, UNIX machines, Microsoft Windows NT-based servers and workstations.

In view of their demanding environment, several factors drew Snyder to the Barr Solution. Cost-effective connectivity to LaserNet's mainframes and networks with ease of installation and use was the primary attraction. Report management and distribution capabilities with robust sorting and routing features further convinced Snyder, along with the ability to have central control of multiple printers on a native Microsoft Windows NT platform.

Here's how it works: All jobs are received in Green Bay via a Token Ring interface by a Barr Remote Job Entry (RJE) solution, BARR / RJE. Each file is labeled according to whether it is bound for production printing in Milwaukee or Green Bay, or storage on LaserNet's Computer Output to Laser Disc (COLD) reporting solution or fiche archival systems.

The job is then processed in Green Bay prior to being sent to its destination. First, BARR / RJE writes the file via Token Ring to the Barr Enterprise Print Server directories. Next, it goes to a UNIX-based utility. After initial processing there, the file is sent back to the Barr Server—via TCP/IP (LPR) this time—where special codes, or ‘headers,' in the job are used to create a custom ‘banner page' for each document. These critical steps are achieved by implementing BARR/PRINT TCP/IP, a software module of the Barr Enterprise Print Server that accepts files over TCP/IP networks. It also supplies the Barr Server with any variable in the LPR control file, including LPD queue name, job name and user name, as criteria to route the job to any final destination.

The Barr Server in Green Bay then sends the job to the appropriate site for printing, storage or archiving. The file is received by the local Barr Server, which then routes the job to its destination. If the destination is a channel-attached production printer, this is achieved with BARR/PRINT390, a scalable software and hardware module of the Barr Server. With BARR/PRINT390, all of the input streams available to the Barr Server can be distributed to channel-attached printers. This module includes an adapter that connects up to eight printers; and up to four adapters can be used with a single Barr Server.

If the destination is storage or archival fiche, the local Barr Server simply writes the file to a directory, where it can be received by many enterprise reporting and archiving systems.The whole procedure involves multiple passes through the local and remote Barr Servers, as needed to support LaserNet's multi-step document management services.

Snyder says, "The Barr Server has both SNA and TCP/IP communications capabilities, so in effect this solution 'bridges' our networks. This was a critical component, that many vendors could not provide for LaserNet's environment."

Working with Barr sales consultants and support professionals was a pleasant experience for Snyder, who states that "Barr support is outstanding; they are knowledgeable, responsive, and courteous. They have been a pleasure to work with."

The most dynamic companies in the business recognize that Barr Systems' solutions are an essential component in managing current print requirements while anticipating future technologies. LaserNet's implementation of Barr solutions to support enterprise reporting systems illustrates the importance of this segment of the printing and data communications industry. Barr offers complete reporting solutions that provide many key benefits to companies who need to get critical data online.

The multifaceted networking environment is not apparent to LaserNet's customers. But, with Barr supporting their printing and storage operations, and thousands of files being processed, this outsource document management company is truly making every second count in servicing their customers' needs.

"Barr Systems provided LaserNet with one of the most reliable and versatile products for the collection and management of production data on the market," Snyder says. "The Barr Enterprise Print Server provides sorting and management of thousands of print jobs daily."

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