Konica Minolta has recently made its Workplace Hub available in the Netherlands and Belgium. This product goes beyond the company’s traditional Multi-Functional Printer (MFP) solutions. With the “all-in-one box” Workplace Hub, Konica Minolta aims to become a fully-fledged IT service provider for SMEs, for example by also providing server capacities and backup capabilities. The company even wants to become an IT service provider for large enterprise organizations, although that might be more suited for later.

The Workplace Hub is a total solution that has all kinds of services and products to take IT worries away from SMEs. This includes traditional Konica Minolta functionalities such as printing, copying and scanning. In the Workplace Hub, however, you will also find other components that ensure that an SME’s entire network can be managed from the central point. In addition to this functionality for the system administrator, the new product also has features that will enable the average employee to work better with colleagues.

The Workplace Hub has been in development for some time now. At the beginning of 2017, Konica Minolta presented the all-in-one box, and later it was made available in some markets. Konica Minolta has already gained some experience with the Workplace Hub, which should also simplify the product launch in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Server with HPE components and custom Linux software

With the Workplace Hub, Konica Minolta is actually bringing a 2U server onto the market, with HPE providing the server components. The server can also be integrated into an MFP tray. Placing the server in an MFP will be desirable for most companies, as it is neatly removed from view. For example, there is an entry-level model available that is combined with an MFP.

Konica Minolta has chosen to run a Linux environment, Canonical’s Ubuntu to be precise, on the Workplace Hub. The software has been redesigned, creating real custom work. Both the system administrator and the user have a custom-made dashboard. From there you can, for example, make use of collaboration tools, visit the marketplace and take care of storage and backup matters.

Solutions from other IT vendors complement Workplace Hub

This makes HPE and the Linux environment the basis of the Workplace Hub. The other components and services ultimately ensure that the Workplace Hub is really finished.

Regarding security, for example, Konica Minolta has concluded two collaborations. For example, Sophos’ next-gen firewall XG Firewall has been integrated to secure an SME’s company network. This component comes with a management interface, which can be configured from the firewall and gives the administrator insight into the network activities. Sophos products have traditionally been focused on SMEs, which makes the match with Konica Minolta logical. The other security component comes from Oracle + Dyn, which secures DNS traffic between the Workplace Hub and a DNS server. This is more of a solution for enterprise organizations.

In addition, various microservices can be found on-board the Workplace Hub, such as an API connection to regulate the integration with cloud services. The containers that support this have a ScienceLogic agent. The services and infrastructure of the Workplace Hub can thus be continuously monitored.

Acronis also provides the Workplace Hub with backup capabilities, integrates with Office 365 and links the Workplace Hub to ServiceNow Cloud Management to determine and manage workflows.

Seeking internal and external help

All the components represent Konica Minolta’s new move. It will become more of an IT service provider. However, this requires more than just cooperation; it also requires more specialisation internally. Konica Minolta took over the Belgian company Aurelium for an unknown amount in mid-2018.

The acquisition came a little later than the revelation of the Workplace Hub, but given what Aurelium does, it is a logical addition on a local level. Konica Minolta now has an IT service provider for SMEs that specialises mainly in infrastructure solutions. Knowledge and expertise on such a subject are more than welcome for Workplace Hub.

Shift a logical picture considering the market

Konica Minolta’s desire to break away from the traditional MFP market is understandable to us. It is generally assumed that the average annual growth rate for the market is still one percent. In today’s IT market, where cloud, security and analytics companies often record growths of tens of percents per year, this is a bit meagre. As a result, Konica Minolta is more or less forced to look beyond what it originally did.

In any case, we believe that the Workplace Hub is a good step towards becoming a fully-fledged IT service provider. Perhaps SMEs will continue to be the best target group for this. Companies in that segment can make good use of an on-premise solution with a cloud connection. Large enterprises will occasionally purchase a Workplace Hub, but they still need just that little bit more functionality. The cloud specifically offers them the link they are looking for. This makes the Workplace Hub a successful all-in-one box that offers added value to a specific target group.