Printer Management Solutions for Enterprise Businesses

Posted by Andrew Miller

Enterprise printer management has traditionally taken one of three forms: a centralized print server, distributed print servers, or direct IP printing. Unfortunately, as many IT professionals already know, none of those legacy architectures is ideal. Here’s a quick summary of how those printer management setups look in real-world implementations and how they fall short.

  • Centralized print server: One print server is responsible for the entire organization’s printing needs. This keeps infrastructure costs down and reduces some printer management overhead, but it creates a single point of failure for the entire organization. It also generates increased amounts of bandwidth-sapping WAN traffic between remote sites and the central print server.
  • Distributed print servers: With a print server at every branch, this avoids the risks of a single point of failure, but it drives up infrastructure and operation costs significantly. From an enterprise printer management standpoint, it’s far more difficult to administer. And yet, as with a centralized print server, it still requires complex scripting and group policy objects (GPOs) for deployment and installation.
  • Direct IP printing: While known for its stability and reliability in demanding print environments, direct IP printing is equally known for its tedious, time-consuming printer management. To perform basic administrative tasks like installing printers or updating drivers, IT admins usually have to log into each workstation separately, and end users are almost wholly reliant on the service desk to make changes and new installations.

PrinterLogic’s next-generation printer management software does something remarkable: It takes the strengths of all these legacy architectures and combines them, resulting in a single enterprise printer management solution that’s so versatile, robust and intuitive that it can be comfortably deployed in any print environment. It’s powerful enough to eliminate print servers while providing even more functionality, intelligent enough to simplify printer management while giving you more control, and stable enough to allow your end users to keep printing normally in the event of a server outage.

Compared to the shortcomings of the legacy architectures listed above, here’s how PrinterLogic’s enterprise printer management solution stacks up:

  • Centralized management: Deploy and delete printers, update drivers, or edit profiles from a single pane of glass anywhere in the organization. Whether you’re administering a single printer or making sweeping changes to the whole fleet, almost everything you need to do in terms of printer management can be accomplished in a few clicks.
  • Seamless integration with VDIs and EHR systems: Printer management is notoriously challenging in environments that rely on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions like VMware and Citrix or electronic health record (EHR) systems like Epic or MEDITECH. PrinterLogic’s printer management software brings an unprecedented level of control and reliability to the environments, yet it integrates so smoothly and seamlessly that you’d think it was a native solution.
  • Mobile/BYOD and Secure Printing: PrinterLogic makes it incredibly easy to enhance your print environment with added functionality. Our Mobile Printing solution enables you to provide your mobile/BYOD employees and guests with easy-to-use printing functionality that can work with any printer. And our Pull Printing solution introduces convenient security-minded features like release printing, which are so easy to use that end users will gladly make tighter security part of their workflow.

And that only names a few. With PrinterLogic, you can also empower your end usersthrough our unique self-service installation portal and even do away with scripting and convoluted GPOs when assigning printers. No other printer management solution for enterprise businesses really comes close to its feature set, ease of use, cost-effectiveness or speed of deployment.

What to Do When Your Print Server Crashes

Posted by Devin Anderson

Got print server problems? Actually, that’s a silly question. Who doesn’t have print server problems?

Among IT professionals, print servers are notorious for being fickle and unreliable. The level of oversight a print server requires often exceeds any benefit it might bring to your print environment. Their susceptibility to issues like driver conflicts, software incompatibilities, buggy code and stuck queues makes them liabilities, and their lack of transparency coupled with their restrictive administrative controls makes them obstacles to effective print management.

That’s why print server problems—especially crashes—are a matter of when, not if. So how can you best prepare for the inevitable and respond when it happens?

Restart the print spooler: When print servers crash, printing stops. Getting the print spooler back up and running as soon as possible will minimize the impact of the crash and the resulting downtime on end users. Sometimes this is easier said than done, because there’s a chance that the spooler and print server will immediately crash again. This will keep happening until the print server problem is solved.

Diagnose the problem: Whether the spooler is running again or not, the next thing to do is get to the heart of your print server problem. The odds are high that a rogue driver is at fault, so it’s best to start sifting through the diagnostic logs to see which drivers were in use or which printer was being called at the time the print server crashed. If a user or workstation is the culprit, you’ll have to determine how that particular user account or workstation is different from the rest. It could be the OS not playing well with the print server, or it could be logon scripts or an improper printer installation that is causing the print server problems.

Update, patch, replace or disable: Once you’ve identified the cause of this particular issue, you should still run through a comprehensive list of solutions:

  • First, make sure you’ve applied all the current software patches to your print server. This advice comes with some caveats, because while some patches do correct existing print server problems, others can actually cause new ones.
  • Check for available software updates for the offending device and apply them. This means updating the printer driver or the workstation. Again, sometimes these updates can cause a different set of print server problems, so be sure you can roll back to a previous version if issues arise.
  • Should patches and updates fail or are unavailable, you might have to resort to simply disabling the offending software or device, or replacing it with a known working solution.

Look for a new print management solution: This is an unconventional step but one that could save you and your organization a lot of time, money and headache. Instead of regularly bracing yourself for the worst and dealing with print server problems like hangs and crashes, you could be enjoying superior ease of management, self-service installation, incredible scalability from minimal infrastructure, robustness toward software incompatibilities and driver conflicts, as well as unprecedented uptime.

PrinterLogic provides the enterprise print management solution that will enable you to eliminate print servers from your print environment while enjoying greater reliability and enhanced, seamlessly integrated functionality like mobile/BYOD and pull printing.

So maybe it’s worth asking that question again. Who doesn’t have print server problems? Simple: Organizations that use PrinterLogic.

Top 3 Gains from Print Management Services

Posted by Andrew Miller

There are hundreds of potential tweaks and optimizations to be found in your organization’s print environment. Some are big, some are small. Some are obvious, some are obscure. Some are short-term, some are ongoing. But what they all have in common is that they can be discovered and unlocked through sound print management solutions.

Printer management can take a variety of forms. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common ones—including next-generation print management solutions like PrinterLogic—as we examine the top three areas in which print management services can benefit your organization.

1. Print Consumable Usage

Consumables such as toner and paper account for approximately 10% of most printing budgets. These are what you might call “invisible” costs because they are integral to the act of printing itself and tend to be automatically resupplied by support staff as needed. This means the end user rarely gives the costs of these consumables any thought before, say, printing the full 30-page report a third time after correcting a single typo on page 4.

A good printer management strategy understands that there are huge cost savings to be found in curbing consumable usage. But how can end users be made aware of their consumable overuse? How can departments gather enough data to monitor their consumption and incentivize resource conservation?

With traditional print management solutions such as print servers, this is difficult to achieve. In the absence of extra software add-ons or plug-ins, print servers don’t offer comprehensive periodic or longitudinal reporting on consumable usage. Some print management companies do monitor consumable use as part of their services and, depending on your organization’s service tier and infrastructure, they can deliver prepared reports along those lines.

Next-generation print management solutions like PrinterLogic have built-in reporting features that allow you to review current as well as historical data on consumable usage for individual devices or whole printer fleets. This compartmentalized or aggregate information can be automatically e-mailed to department heads, managers or other decision-makers on a periodic basis. Your organization can then use this shared data as a basis for efficiency initiatives. Independent surveys of PrinterLogic customers have shown that close to 70% of the respondents succeeded in reducing print consumable usage by 15% or more this way (TVID: 7F5-FCC-413). It also paves the way for informed decisions about hardware fleet optimization.

2. Purchasing, Deploying and Maintaining the Hardware Infrastructure

Infrastructure costs money. From the initial outlay to purchase the hardware and software, to the cost of deploying it (including any productivity lost to a prolonged implementation and teething period), on to the ongoing maintenance of all aspects of that infrastructure, it adds up to a dollar figure that gets subtracted from your bottom line. Therefore, as far as printing and printer management infrastructure is concerned, it makes sense to aim to achieve more with less.

Conventional print management solutions give you a choice: Either expand your infrastructure through multiple print servers, or consolidate your infrastructure with a centralized print server. The former means a lot more hardware, oversight and maintenance – the exact opposite of our “more with less” goal. The latter, however, creates a single point of failure that can jeopardize printing across the entire organization and drives up the costs of redundancy. In distributed environments, centralized servers can also place huge and unnecessary burdens on the WAN connections.

Because PrinterLogic can scale to suit organizations of any size from a single central server, it enables you to operate an entire printer fleet—even in distributed environments—on minimal infrastructure without any of the drawbacks associated with traditional print management solutions. Even in the event of a host server failure, PrinterLogic’s robust printer management and direct IP backbone allows printing to continue as normal with no loss of core functionality. This is why independent surveys have shown that nearly 80% of PrinterLogic customers are able to reduce their remote server infrastructure by 30% or more (TVID: 77B-13B-830) while simultaneously experiencing significant gains in printer management.

3. Productivity

There are many events that threaten printing availability to end users. Among these are print server crashes, queue congestion, improper printer deployment, limited access to printer installation and paper jams. Regardless of the root cause, every time printing is unavailable for any reason, productivity takes a hit.

And it’s not just the end users who are inconvenienced by lack of printing downtime and interrupted printing availability. The service desk and technical support staff are also affected because they have to devote time to addressing printer management and print-related issues. This might equate to the time that they spend performing backend troubleshooting and restarting a server. Or it might be the hours they spend on the phone walking end users through basic printer installation. The simple fact is that the resources expended on addressing printing problems are resources that cannot be directed elsewhere.

Print servers are notorious for being resource vortexes, sucking up a disproportionate amount of IT’s time and effort. As print management solutions go, they are the least optimal when maximizing productivity is a priority.

As a total print management solution that also integrates seamlessly with virtual environments like Citrix and VMware, PrinterLogic enables organizations to realize serious boosts in productivity through multiple areas. For example, PrinterLogic has an intuitive self-service portal that allows end users to identify and install printers themselves with a single click. It also has robust features to deal with the driver conflicts and software incompatibilities that can regularly crash print servers.

All this drastically reduces print-related calls to the service desk, with an independent survey showing 77% of PrinterLogic customer reducing their downtime by at least 15% (TVID: 5CC-DBB-F3A). And PrinterLogic’s centralized administration and ease of use allows IT staff to carry out printer management far more efficiently than ever before. In another independent survey (TVID: 539-304-868), 83% of PrinterLogic customers reported reducing their time spent on routine printer management by 30% or more.

Additional Benefits

Unlike traditional print management solutions, PrinterLogic has the ability to provide enhanced functionality through its Mobile Printing and Pull Printing modules. These deliver convenient full-featured printing for mobile and BYOD users as well as easy-to-use secure printing for confidential documents. With other print management services, next-generation features like these might be inconvenient, cost-prohibitive or difficult to integrate, but PrinterLogic’s print management solution seamlessly incorporates them into any print environment.

Given its proven ability to reduce usage of consumables, increase print-related productivity across the organization and shrink infrastructure while delivering enhanced functionality, PrinterLogic avoids the shortcomings of conventional print management solutions yet matches or exceeds their strengths.

Print Server Management Best Practices

It’s no secret that managing print servers is never high on the list of things IT people want to do. Print servers are renowned—infamous, you could say—for being finicky, unstable and high maintenance. They frequently require a lot of work (and workarounds) just to provision printers and maintain basic printing functionality.

Because every print environment is different, the optimal approach to print server management can vary widely for each organization. Yet there are some general rules of thumb that might be considered best practices when it comes to managing print servers and keeping printing running as smoothly as possible. Below we’ll also consider how PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution stacks up against print servers.

Standardize your hardware: Even with small printer fleets, a mix of manufacturers and models can make the job of print server management exponentially more difficult. This is because print servers crave homogeneity. A multitude of drivers for different devices can lead to serious conflicts that can prevent a workstation from printing – or worse still, crash the print server and bring printing to a halt. A huge driver repository is also tough to manage using print servers’ limited tools.

The trouble is, homogeneity is hard to come by. Organizations’ printer fleets naturally become varied over time as some old devices are phased out and new ones are acquired as necessary. Homogeneity can also get expensive because it requires devices to be retired en masse in regular cycles. Improved print server management comes at the expense (quite literally) of cost-effective printer fleets.

Implement the right infrastructure: Print servers give you two broad implementation choices: centralize or distribute. When you consolidate your print infrastructure in one central print server, you reduce the amount of hardware you’re purchasing, managing and operating. But you also expose your print environment to a single point of failure, which means printing stops when that print server crashes, hangs, or is knocked offline for any reason. If your organization has multiple locations, it also means that the WAN connections will be heavily taxed by printing traffic.

Should you choose to distribute your print infrastructure via multiple print servers, it might increase localized print availability but it will increase infrastructure costs and make managing print servers less efficient. That’s the unfortunate tradeoff.

Weigh your deployment options: Do you use scripts or group policy objects (GPOs) to provision your printers? These tend to be the default deployment methods but they entail compromises. GPOs can be useful in most situations, although anomalies and outliers that exist outside of GPOs’ strict hierarchy can lead to complications. This isn’t helped by the limited print server management provisioning options. Scripts are more customizable and can be tailored to niche instances, yet they can slow down logon times and need to be custom coded for each new instance.

PrinterLogic eliminates the need for print server management best practices because it eliminates the need for print servers and all their flaws. It’s a comprehensive enterprise print management solution that scales to infinite size despite having only minimal infrastructure requirements. And it provides enhanced printing functionality, powerful print management tools and centralized administration even in distributed environments. It’s robust toward driver conflicts and brings unprecedented ease and stability in heterogeneous print environments. You can even carry out targeted printer deployments without resorting to GPOs and scripts.

It’s time for print management to shed its stigma and become the job that your IT staff loves. But for that to happen, it has to involve far less print server management and much more effortless printer deployment, printing availability, and straightforward printer and driver management. With PrinterLogic, you can stop managing print servers and start managing your print environment.

Streamline Your Print Management

Posted by Jordan Pusey

If streamlining print management in your organization isn’t already a priority, it should be. The right print management solutions—whether that means introducing dedicated print management software, outsourcing to a print management company or adhering to print management best practices—can end up saving you a hefty chunk of change. As printing expenses are generally considered to account for anywhere between 1 to 3% of a company’s annual revenue, identifying print management solutions that can streamline your operations have the potential to recoup up to 30%—or more, in some cases—of that outlay.

A good place to start is by looking at print management best practices and taking steps to implement them in your organization. Broadly speaking, some of these best practices include:

  • Know your print environment: Which network and USB printers are the most heavily utilized? How does consumable usage vary from department to department? What is your print server downtime in a given month? The answers to questions like these will help you better analyze your print environment and carry out the next steps.
  • Optimize your printer fleet: Swap heavily utilized printing devices with devices that are less utilized to extend their lifespan. Consolidate printers based on sound and up-to-date guidance. And when devices are past their prime, stop sinking unnecessary costs into keeping them running. Make sure you have a pre-allocated budget for hardware replacement, then retire inefficient devices that are long in the tooth.
  • Look to the future, not the status quo: Growing trends like mobile/BYOD printing and secure pull printing took many companies by surprise. As a result, their aging print environments weren’t in a position to accommodate new technologies, putting them at a disadvantage. Start researching next-gen print management solutions today and make sure your print environment is ready to embrace cutting-edge changes to your workplace and workflow.
  • Manage smarter, not harder: Provisioning printers using group policy objects (GPOs) and scripts is common, but is it really the optimal method for targeted deployments? Are you still relying on the service desk and technical support staff to perform routine printer installations, or are you empowering your end users instead? Find the right print management company or print management software that can help you leverage alternative management methods and your organization’s natural assets.

Once you’ve worked towards print management best practices, outsourcing or consulting with a print management company can help you streamline your print management further. Companies like these can use their expertise to help you plan printer consolidation strategies and determine ways to reduce your infrastructure. Outsourcing has been shown to reduce the direct costs of print management but it could mean relinquishing some control over your print environment, which might run contrary to your organization’s attempts to streamline its print management.

Uniquely, print management software like PrinterLogic has the ability to realize the benefits of multiple print management solutions without the drawbacks. With PrinterLogic, you can:

  • Reduce printing infrastructure and eliminate print servers altogether
  • Centralize and simplify printer administration for the entire organization
  • Effortlessly deploy printers and drivers without GPOs and scripts
  • Empower end users through a straightforward self-service portal
  • Integrate seamlessly with virtual solutions like Citrix and VMware, enhancing their native print management
  • Increase printing availability and dramatically reduce downtime
  • Future-proof your print environment with optional functionality like Mobile Printing and Pull Printing

All this makes PrinterLogic equal to a whole host of print management solutions and print management best practices bundled in a single print management software package. It’s the easiest, most far-reaching and most cost-effective way to streamline print management in your organization.