Worried About Anthrax? Try IPP Instead!

DQW Bureau
New Update


With the growing threat of Anthrax and other biological agents being possibly used by terrorists, the advantages of email over snail-mail are again coming into focus.

Not that all the mailing functions can be taken care of by email, but many of them can easily be carried out digitally. Many American establishments have issued requests to avoid postal mail and use phone/fax/email for communications.

To use the phone, both parties have to be available at both ends simultaneously in real time. Also conversation on phone cannot be easily documented or authenticated.


If you are using a thermal paper for fax, it doesn't last long. The document needs to be photocopied, and once photocopied - loses its authenticity.

Email is best suited for most of communication needs and can be easily filed and archived for future reference. If you are using email attachments that are editable, there is a possibility that they can be tampered with. Use digital signatures, and it becomes quite a costly affair.

Digital communications run the risk of software viruses, but they can be taken care of, by keeping an updated version of a good anti-virus on your system and by avoiding opening of suspicious emails.


The threat of email viruses is not as serious as Anthrax and other biological agents. No one has ever died of an email virus attack!

This is where IPP steps in

There is one more way of using the Internet for digital paper-based communications. Internet Printing is as good as any conventional paper-based communication and as safe as a digital communication. IPP is very simply Internet Printing Protocol.


IPP is a method of delivering print jobs from a client machine to a printer or print server. As a function of delivering print jobs it also acts as a method of communication between a client and print server.

To provide a standardization in communication between a client and server that is platform independent, IPP relies on the existing standard of HTTP.

Already a ubiquitous protocol in networks, HTTP provides the transport layer of the IPP. Every IPP message is formatted with an HTTP header and IPP command or response.


Just like the HTTP has made browser-based applications, platform independent, IPP too makes printing jobs platform independent.

How to do it

All you need is an IPP compatible print server and printer at the location where you want your document to get printed. It's immaterial where you are yourself located physically, as long as you have access to the Internet.


Sitting at your home PC you can send a print job to the network printer in the office or at your customer or supplier's office.

IPP cannot be used by spammers like in case of email or fax as an authentication method along with secure socket layers can be used to limit accessibility. This provides specific people the ability to print to a location from anywhere that they can access the Internet.

Using this method the standard function of faxing can be replaced or added upon to provide the ability to deliver hardcopy data with no loss in quality and a reduction in cost.

Safe and easy


Internet Printing allows you to connect to the print server with your web browser for the purpose of connecting to printers and checking the status of printers (ie you can connect to a print server by typing its address in your browser address window -

Any client that uses Internet Explorer 4.x or higher can connect to the print server, then connect to the printer for a print job or simply to check print queue status.

For Internet Printing to work, your printer server needs to be connected to the Internet and must have its IP address known to the people who are authorized to send print jobs to your Internet printer.

This means either you must have a leased line or an ISDN connection with a fixed IP address connected to your LAN. Not many companies in India have this facility at the moment, but it will become available at more and more offices as the tariffs fall.

There are applications software packages available, which combine the advantages of e-mail and IPP. InterPrint is one such Internet e-mail management and printing solution.

With InterPrint, messages sent to your email account can be automatically printed to your printer. Important messages will be waiting for you on your printer, instead of waiting for you to start your email client. This is also referred to, as 'driverless' printing since no specific printer driver needs to be installed on the client machine.

Hardware requisites

The important piece of hardware required to be installed in your network is the print server. A typical print server like Accton's CheetahPrint allows three printers/plotters to be connected to the same Ethernet network on 10/100 Mbps.

Remote managing and diagnosing is possible and print functions across multiple protocols like Netware, Windows95/98, Windows NT/2000, MacOS or Unix are supported.

Large and small print servers are available from many companies like Epson, HP, Lexmark and IBM. Printers with embedded IPP are also available from Canon, Epson, IBM, Ricoh, Xerox and others.

More and more network-ready printers include IPP, but most computers with older operating systems do not necessarily have this capabilities. Future versions of all major operating systems and network operating systems promise IPP support, and support is already built into Windows 2000.

A shining future

The future of IPP looks bright. Although the percentage of printers today with IPP capabilities is small, The Printer Working Group (PWG) expects that number to skyrocket within a year, with print servers and small plug-ins for older printers, and new printers with built-in


Anthrax or no Anthrax, IPP is sure to become an important standard protocol like the TCP/IP and HTTP. Channels must get ready with this new technology before it takes root in India. The early entrants always have an advantage of a bigger


Ashok Dongre