Xerox Turns Over the Development of its FreeFlow Print Server Digital Front End to EFI

Xerox Turns Over the Development of its FreeFlow Print Server Digital Front End to EFI



Jim Hamilton

Today Xerox and EFI announced a move that extends their longstanding partnership: Xerox is selling its FreeFlow Print Server digital front end business to EFI. EFI will manage production and support of the existing FreeFlow Print Server and later will integrate it with EFI’s Fiery digital front end.

This next generation digital front end will integrate with EFI’s Productivity Suites, including print management information systems such as PACE, PrintSmith Vision, Monarch, and Radius ERP. It will also integrate with Xerox FreeFlow Core and XMPie workflows as well as third-party prepress solutions from Agfa Apogee, Heidelberg Prinect, and Kodak Prinergy. There is also the future opportunity to leverage JDF more effectively. EFI reports that its Fiery DFE is currently the only JDF certified digital front end. This opens the opportunity, through an API, to allow integration to any other applications.

Xerox Trivor 2400 with an EFI Fiery digital front end at drupa

Xerox Trivor 2400 with an EFI Fiery digital front end at drupa

Some who hear this news may be confused by a quirk in the nature of Xerox’s FreeFlow branding, which includes not only the FreeFlow Print Server (FFPS) but also the FreeFlow workflow tools. Only the FreeFlow Print Server development and support are going to EFI. Some will remember that in the past Xerox used the DocuSP brand for its digital front end. It might have been better had Xerox never applied the FreeFlow brand to its DocuSP server. It would avoid confusion now. It is very important to note that Xerox is not selling or moving its FreeFlow workflow tools. These tools, including FreeFlow Core, FreeFlow VI Suite, FreeFlow Makeready, and FreeFlow Digital Publisher, remain with Xerox.

Neither company released any financial details about the transaction. Nothing was said about impact on employees. As development work for the FreeFlow Print Server digital front end has been handled by a third-party contractor, it does not look like Xerox jobs will be lost or shifted to EFI. It appears that along with ongoing development and support, this is primarily a move to transfer to EFI the intellectual property associated with the FreeFlow Print Server digital front end.

I believe this acquisition will be beneficial to both parties. EFI gains important intellectual property as well as the flexibility to integrate it tightly with its own Fiery assets. For Xerox the move transfers the development and support of FFPS to an acknowledged market leader. The move strengthens an already strong relationship and opens new possibilities for future offerings. How customers will react is yet to be seen. Tighter integration to various workflow components could be a big positive, but for those who desired a non-EFI front end, the options have been reduced.

Update: Interesting to note two new additional details from a Form 8-K filing today by EFI:

  • EFI will make a series of payments totaling $22 million over 18 months to Xerox
  • Xerox committed to an annual minimum DFE purchase level