Corporate Print Management Solutions: Empowering End Users

Posted by Andrew Miller

In the world of corporate IT, there’s a tendency to overlook the end user as a valuable resource. Nowhere is this more apparent than in corporate print management. Almost all corporate printing solutions fail to leverage end users as a means of assisting IT professionals in their job. Instead they treat end users like obstacles or inconveniences.

Take print servers, for instance. Like most traditional corporate printing solutions, they force server admins to constantly monitor and limit end user interaction for fear of them installing the wrong printer or driver (or worse). And it’s hard to blame the server admins for doing so. How many times have they had to troubleshoot an incorrect installation or deal with print spooler crashes as a result of driver issues? And how many times have service desk reps had to spend valuable time walking users through printer installation processes that are supposed to be easy and routine?

The same applies to general printer usage. In an effort to clamp down on runaway corporate print costs, many admins try to control end users’ printing behavior assigning them specific printers or restricting their available printing options. In some cases, it makes sense to do this, but the management options offered by corporate printing solutions are lacking. Usually it requires complex group policy objects (GPOs) or custom scripts to set the printing parameters for a given end user, and this can slow logon times or cause rights issues that are difficult to troubleshoot without methodical, time-consuming examination of the entire GPO hierarchy.

At PrinterLogic, we’ve long considered end users to be an organization’s most under-leveraged asset. This sets our next-generation print management solutions apart from other corporate printing solutions, and our real-world results speak for themselves. Like the 77% of organizations surveyed by the independent research firm TechValidate that reported reductions in service desk calls of 30% or more after installing PrinterLogic (TVID: AC0-21B-DC5). Or RPC, Inc. specifically, which used PrinterLogic to reduce service desk calls by more than 90% (TVID: 138-6AB-436). They’re able to do this in part because PrinterLogic empowers end users in a way that benefits corporate print management.

The clearest example is our self-service installation portal, which enables end users to identify and install nearby printers with a single click. No guesswork, no call to the service desk. Your organization even has the ability to upload floor plan maps that show the location of printing devices, so the user has an additional visual aid when identifying nearby printers. And as simple and intuitive as that process is for the end user, your admins can be confident that those users are consistently getting the right printers and drivers. This is because PrinterLogic’s centralized print management lets admins deploy and assign printers in a targeted way anywhere in the organization – all from a single pane of glass and without the need for GPOs or scripts.

In the same way, PrinterLogic also enables you to stay on top of corporate print costs. You can easily limit end users to certain printing options such as duplexing, black and white, paper trays and more, most of which can be selected by simply checking a box in the centralized management console. Our optional Pull Printing module goes one step further and unites printing security with corporate print cost savings. By dividing printing into two deliberate but convenient steps for your end users, it can protect confidential documents while curbing the number of wasted print jobs that are left abandoned in output trays.

Corporate printing solutions that don’t empower your end users just can’t come close to fully optimizing your print environment. By integrating your end users into your overall corporate print management strategy, PrinterLogic is able to realize incredible efficiency gains, security, and ROI.

Are There Opportunities for Print Server Consolidation in Your Organization?

Posted by Devin Anderson

Here’s a thought exercise. Picture your organization’s IT infrastructure. All of it: the servers, the workstations, the mobile devices, the routers, the printers, the switches, down to every last device, however tiny or obscure.

Now picture your organization’s print infrastructure. What does that look like in terms of your overall IT infrastructure? What is the proportion of print relative to the whole? Where does overlap exist, and where is there opportunity for consolidation? More specifically, can you easily spot opportunity for print server consolidation?

For many organizations, especially distributed ones, print server consolidation is often thought of in terms of the elimination of remote or satellite print servers in favor of one centralized print server. This seems like a great way to reduce infrastructure easily and quickly, but it has several fundamental drawbacks. The first and most important shortcoming of this method of print server consolidation is that it creates a single point of failure in the print infrastructure. When the central print server hangs, crashes or fails—and that’s a matter of when not if—it will take down printing for the entire organization until it can be brought back online. That downtime could last minutes or it could last hours. To prepare for this, the obvious solution is redundancy—and multi-server redundancy at that. But the irony is that these redundancy measures run counter to the primary aim of print server consolidation!

Common approaches to print server consolidation have other drawbacks. Not as severe, maybe, but they can still jeopardize productivity. In distributed environments, for example, because print traffic has to travel from remote sites to the central server and back, it can consume the finite WAN bandwidth and degrade the performance of other Internet-reliant services like email, VoIP telephony, and even web browsing. Of course, print servers have much more inherent failings, too, such as their susceptibility to driver issues, their temperamental print spoolers, and their reliance on complex group policy objects (GPOs) and scripting to deploy printers with any accuracy.

At some point, you might have already weighed all these factors and decided that print server consolidation isn’t possible for your organization because of them. But when contemplating print infrastructure consolidation in general and print server consolidation specifically, one solution you might not have considered is PrinterLogic. Our print management solution actually makes it possible to eliminate print servers entirely—no matter how large, diverse or distributed your organization happens to be.

PrinterLogic surpasses mere print server consolidation because it replaces your entire print backbone with a single instance of our next-generation print management software. Even in the rare event of a server outage, your entire user base can keep printing as usual with no loss of core functionality. PrinterLogic is able to do this by leveraging the strengths of direct IP printing, long regarded as the most reliable form of print connectivity. Yet our solution also features the powerful, centralized print management that is often missing from direct IP environments – and print server environments, too, for that matter.

This way, you get the reliability of direct IP printing but an unprecedented ease of management that allows you to deploy printers with precision (and without relying on GPOs or scripts), to effortlessly change settings for select printers or even the entire printer fleet from a single pane of glass, to deploy and update drivers without fear of conflicts, and to empower your end users to identify and install nearby printers themselves with a single click. Even the most flawless and streamlined print server consolidation initiative can’t introduce features like that.

Opportunities for print server consolidation likely exist in your organization. But with PrinterLogic, you have an opportunity to go beyond print server consolidation by eliminating your print servers altogether and replacing them with a more feature-rich, robust, scalable and cost-effective print management solution.