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History of Activities

January 23, 2009
Contents  
Introduction  
1 History of Phase 1: May, 1998 through May, 2000  
2 Activities During Phase 2: June, 2000 through May, 2002  
3 Activities During Phase 3: June, 2002 through May, 2004  
4 Activities During Phase 4: June, 2004 through May, 2006  
5 Activities During Phase 5: June, 2006 through May, 2008  
6 Activities During Phase 6: June, 2008 through May, 2010  

Conclusion

Introduction

In May, 1998, JBMIA (Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association) set up the JBMIA Project for OA Systems committee with the objective of providing an integrated interface specification (BMLinkS). Based on the "Connect, Find, Get" slogan, the committee started activities to dramatically improve connectivity between office appliances as well as data exchange on networks.
The activities in each phase of two years have been carried out steadily. During this period, a number of measures have been taken to prepare an environment to work on both standardized specifications and product launch. Good results have been achieved.

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1. History of Phase 1: May, 1998 through May, 2000

The JBMIA Project for OA Systems, which was established in May 1998, mapped out a new standard specification for an integrated interface to office appliances (the three specifications for Searching, Data Format, and Job/Device Control mentioned above) in December 1999, and issued a press release indicating the direction to be taken with BMLinkS. A second call for corporate participation brought in additional companies for a total of fourteen companies participating in the endeavor.
Of these fourteen companies, ten installed the prototype of the standard specification BMLinkS (on twelve models), and after two connection verification tests, the prototype was presented at the Business Show 2000 in May 2000, which was held at the Tokyo Big Sight.

Ten live demonstrations were held every day at the Business Show, and the idea and user-friendliness of BMLinkS were successfully exhibited to more than 4,000 spectators over the course of four days.

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2. Activities During Phase 2: June, 2000 through May, 2002

After the formulation of the BMLinkS specification and it’s successful demonstration at the Business Show, Phase Two activities began.

There were two major activity objectives during Phase Two, “promotion of standardization” and “promotion of product commercialization.”

As part of the promotion of standardization, the committees explored opportunities for cooperating with major standardization groups, revised the BMLinkS specification, developed installation specifications with actual product commercialization as the objective, formulated rules, and from July through September 2001, performed a connection demonstration test to verify the BMLinkS specification. In promoting product commercialization, the committees discussed how to work out the marketability of BMLinkS, and by demonstrating before companies that are members in the committee, were able to solidify a foundation for product commercialization. The committees are also discussing business scenarios and other factors.

 

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3. Activities During Phase 3: June, 2002 through May, 2004

Starting from phrase 3, BMLinkS will enter the stage of its practical application. The BMLinkS Project Committee will use this name and move into the phrase of actually introducing BMLinkS to the marketplace, as well as promoting the popularization of BMLinkS. For this reason, the BMLinkS trademark registration was done in Japan, US, and Europe; certification test of equipment based on the integrated specifications (BMLinkS) related to interconnection of office equipment was performed. As of May, 2004, about 40 models had been certified. Also, Integrated Printer Driver (the common software for using the printing service on BMLinkS compliant equipment) was developed, released, and distributed.


Furthermore, to continuously develop BMLinkS, activities leading to product commercialization by each company, expansion of BMLinkS functions, and the preparation of an infrastructure for implementing BMLinkS services are some of the key points. Based on this understanding, specifications of scanning services and storage services were added and published. Also, confidential printing was extended to enrich printing services, and preparation for implementation testing was finished.

Activities for the Next Phase


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4. Activities During Phase 4: June, 2004 through May, 2006

Phase 4 continued phase 3 with clearly defined requirements on extending printing services for the mobile environment, and implementation of field trial on printing services with confidential printing for the purpose of promoting widespread use of BMLinkS. Based on this result, version upgrade of the integrated printer driver was performed to improve the confidential printing functions and ease of use. Also, common software (Storage service, Document viewer) was developed and announced, which enables even simpler use of network scanning functions based on the specifications of the scanning services and storage services. With this improvement, an environment where network printing functions, network scanning functions, and network storage functions provided by office appliances can easily be used across vendors. In other words, a document distribution infrastructure based on BMLinkS is now ready.

Activities During Phase 4: June, 2004 to May, 2006

 

Activities During Phase 4: June, 2004 to May, 2006

 

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5. Activities During Phase 5: June, 2006 through May, 2008

In phase 5, an “BMLinkS Prospectus” was drawn up to make the activities of the BMLinkS Project Committee easier to understand for more people, and clarified the committee’s role and goals, and the aims of such goals in statutory form.

And, the BMLinkS Project Committee has defined and released BMLinkS Office Device Management Standard Specification and Security White Paper in an effort to help use office equipment, including multi-function devices(MFPs) more securely and efficiently in a network environment, taking measures regarding device management and security, according to the BMLinkS Prospectus, after taking into account hearings and other surveys conducted on system integrators and users.

Applying BMLinkS Standard Specification for device management helps system integrators to develop applications to efficiently manage devices from vendors, and enables users and IT administrators to consistently and securely configure all the BMLinkS compliant equipment, monitor it, and obtain the devices’ usage history in an environment where devices from different vendors co-exist.

Also, the Security White Paper described how to deploy BMLinkS Standard Specification to use BMLinkS compliant equipment securely.

Office Device Management Standard Specification and Security White Paper will be used to establish an industry standard of device management that helps to use multi-function devices(MFPs) efficiently.

BMLinkS Device Management

BMLinkS Platform & Document Distribution Infrastructure

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6. Activities During Phase 6: June, 2008 through May, 2010

The activities of Phase 6 are positioned as “Application and Expansion,” with the following objectives:

  • For ”Application,” to strengthen activities that accelerate broad use of the BMLinkS platform.
  • For “Expansion,” to search for new areas on the BMLinkS platform where the value can be expanded.

History of Activities and Positioning of Phase 6 Activities

Among activities to accelerate broad use of the BMLinkS platform, implementation of the Standard Specification for Device Management (a result of Phase 5 activities) would reduce the office work related to TCO (total cost of ownership) and provide value for environmental protection. The committee approach not only end users, but many stakeholders including system integrators.
Moreover, the committee focus on the “document security” area, which demands further enhancement, as an area of value expansion now and in the future. The plans are to search for new areas of value expansion in multi-vendor environments, and to promote standardization in such areas.

We expect such efforts to lead to further solutions, which we can provide for the issues that multi-vendor users face.

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Conclusion

Each specification for BMLinkS was developed with participation of major office equipment vendors in Japan. Over 300 types of BMLinkS certified devices from multiple vendors are available on the market (as of May, 2008). With BMLinkS, it is becoming possible to create multi-vendor systems where office equipment is easy and convenient to use on networks. Additionally, following Print-Scan-Storage Services, the BMLinkS Project Committee looks forward to the time when device management among multiple vendors' devices is possible, as well as equivalent developments in the security field. The BMLinkS Project committee believes that services provided by office equipment will further evolve.

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