Printer Driver Installation in VDI Environments

In virtual desktop interface (VDI) environments, the convenience of server-side computing is often offset by the difficulty this creates for print management. On account of their unique approach, VDI printing scenarios increase the complexity of printer deployment and printer driver installation, which means that the time your organization saves by administering a centralized VDI environment might easily be spent meeting the additional demands of administering VDI printing instead. That could potentially impact the cost-effectiveness of your VDI solution. At the very least, it could cause frustration where none should exist.

Printer driver installation definitely varies between VDI solutions and their variants, such as VMware Horizon View and Citrix Virtual Desktops, but one common method is to install drivers onto the master image. This master image is, as VDI admins know, the basis for all of the virtual clients. However, the major problem with this method of printer driver installation in VDI printing is bloat, particularly when your environment has multiple printer models from multiple manufacturers.

Furthermore, the higher number of drivers, the greater the likelihood of conflicts. As a result, solutions like Citrix recommend using their universal driver for VDI printing. This one-size-fits-all approach might cut down on the time required for print driver installation, but it also risks losing certain functionality for certain printers because universal drivers aren’t always able to support advanced model-specific features.

PrinterLogic’s print management solution was designed to integrate seamlessly with Citrix, VMware and other popular VDI environments in order to tame the chaos of VDI printing and make all aspects of print management easier—including printer driver installation. Our next-generation software can be implemented alongside your VDI solution in a variety of ways to complement your preferred printer provisioning methods and your unique print environment. In this way, PrinterLogic can introduce an unprecedented level of administrative control and oversight to VDI printing in your virtual solution.

One of the many advantages of PrinterLogic’s enterprise print management solution is its improved driver management. You can maintain a central driver repository without fear of bloat or the usual confusion between 32- and 64-bit driver versions. In Citrix, for instance, PrinterLogic’s printer driver installation can easily be automated regardless of whether you’re using session printers or auto-created printers. You can choose to use specific manufacturer drivers or the Citrix Universal Print Driver for VDI printing.

But our software isn’t limited to a single capability. In addition to its superior driver management and dynamic printer driver installation, it introduces features that are all but unattainable through any other VDI printing solution. These include:

  • Location-based (proximity) printing: Using Active Directory (AD) criteria such as computer, user, container, organizational unit (OU) or group, as well as IP or MAC address, you can have printers deploy to individual users or groups of users dynamically, precisely and automatically.
  • Self-service printer installation: Through PrinterLogic’s acclaimed self-service installation portal, end users can safely and confidently carry out printer and printer driver installation themselves with a single click—even in VDI sessions.
  • Preconfigured profiles: Want to assign custom printer or driver settings to a particular user or group? PrinterLogic allows to do so through its intuitive web-based admin console.
  • No GPOs, no scripts: PrinterLogic’s streamlined and advanced software doesn’t require group policy objects (GPOs) or scripts to deliver the right printers to the right users.

With PrinterLogic, you’ll experience a newfound ease of use with VDI printing, and effortless printer driver installation is just one of many ways our next-gen print management solution makes that possible.

How to Deploy Printers without Group Policy

Group policy objects. GPOs. The mere mention of them is enough to send a shudder through the many admins who’ve wasted countless hours wrestling with their quirks and their nuances. Compounded with the usual headaches of enterprise print management, it’s no wonder that there’s a strong and continuous demand for alternative methods to deploying printers with group policy.

But is it possible to set up precise automated deployments without GPOs? Can you deploy a TCP/IP printer accurately and reliably without group policy? And what print management solution will let you deploy printers without group policy in Windows Server 2012 R2 and similar print environments?

The answer to all those questions is PrinterLogic. Our next-generation print management solution combines the stability and simplicity of direct IP printing with a centralized approach to management and oversight that is almost impossible to achieve with print servers. Instead of deploying printers with group policy, you can use the intuitive web-based admin console to set up targeted deployments to individual users or even user pools without any GPOs at all.

If you need to take a moment to do a double take, that’s okay. We know this stands in stark contrast to the conventional methods used to deploy printers with group policy in Windows Server 2012 R2. But PrinterLogic’s print management solution was designed with advanced functionality and ease of use at its core, allowing you to deploy TCP/IP printers without group policy—quickly, effortlessly, reliably and precisely. Our solution integrates seamlessly with Active Directory (AD), which means you can deliver printers to specific users based on criteria such as AD user, group, container, organizational unit (OU), computer, or even to a host name or range of IP addresses. Setup is as simple as a few clicks.

Not only does this save time on the administrative side, it also ends up saving time for the end user. PrinterLogic’s advanced printer deployments get the right printers to the right users every time, so those users don’t have to spend their lunch break calling the service desk and asking them to deploy a printer they should already have access to. And because your support staff now has the ability to deploy TCP/IP printers without group policy, they don’t need risky elevated rights to add or remove printer assignments.

Another problem when you deploy printers using group policy in Windows Server 2012 R2 is that the default options can be limited and don’t always “stick”. With PrinterLogic, setting the default options—including such variables as duplex, paper type, color settings and dpi—can be as simple as ticking a check box. Our print-management solution also allows for one-time or permanent defaults, which is far more useful than the usual slate of options when you deploy a TCP/IP printer with group policy. Practically speaking, this means you can create default settings for the first time a printer is installed, each time the user logs on, or only when the user logs on from a particular location.

When you implement PrinterLogic, you don’t just get to eliminate GPOs. You can also eliminate your print servers completely and replace them all with one server running a single instance of PrinterLogic—or without any physical server at all using our new SaaS solution, PrinterCloud. To put it another way, you won’t have to worry about how to deploy printers with group policy in Windows Server 2012 R2 because you won’t be dealing with Windows Server 2012 R2 any longer.

And that comes with clear advantages, such as the reduction of single points of failure, increased visibility and manageability, minimization of wide area network (WAN) traffic in consolidated environments, and the elimination of the costs of procurement, operation and upgrade of print servers. In big-picture terms, the ability to easily deploy TCP/IP printers without group policy is just one of hundreds of benefits of PrinterLogic.

Printing without a Print Server

For a long time—too long, in fact—enterprise printing has pretty much been dominated by two architectures. The first is direct IP printing. The second is print servers.

Direct IP printing is great because it’s reliable and straightforward. But in its conventional form, direct IP printing suffers from a lack of manageability because each client–printer connection has to be established and updated manually. This makes direct IP printing inefficient in all but the smallest and most static environments. It also doesn’t offer a centralized window into the print environment, which hinders overall visibility.

Whether consolidated or distributed, Windows print servers offer improved manageability, especially in large or distributed organizations, but they do so at the expense of reliability. Print spooler crashes—which can be caused by corrupted print jobs, driver incompatibilities, and a host of other issues that stem from single points of failure—have the potential to bring printing to a halt for large pools of users or even the entire organization until the problem can be identified and fixed.

Furthermore, print servers can be expensive to purchase, operate, maintain and upgrade, and routine printer deployments and installations can be finicky as they depend on complex hierarchical attributes like group policy objects (GPOs) or a certain level of technical skill from end users. This is why many admins have long looked for a Windows Print Server alternative that will free them from the constraints of print servers while leveraging their advantages.

Wouldn’t it be great to have something like direct print server software — a solution that would combine the stability of direct IP printing with a Windows Print Server alternative that offered centralized manageability, increased oversight, reliable deployments and additional enterprise printing features?

That next-generation solution is precisely what PrinterLogic offers. Our enterprise print management solution is the centrally managed direct IP print software you’re looking for. It’s a Windows Print Server alternative that actually enables your organization to eliminate print servers entirely while enjoying the proven reliability of direct IP printing along with the ability to administer printers anywhere in the print environment from a single pane of glass. In short, it’s effortless and robust printing without a print server.

The advantages of PrinterLogic’s print management solution are extensive. To begin with, you can automatically and dynamically deploy printers using criteria like Active Directory (AD) attributes, IP address ranges and even MAC addresses in a direct IP printing environment without having to rely on GPOs or scripts. All of those deployments can be set up and modified using our acclaimed web-based admin console, which offers intuitive yet powerful control over the entire print environment.

Unique among Windows Print Server alternatives is PrinterLogic’s self-service installation portal, which empowers end users with the ability to identify and install nearby printers with a single click. You can even upload floorplan maps to make it easier for them to select the right local printer. By replacing your print servers or traditional direct IP printing environment with what amounts to hybrid of the two models that has this kind of functionality, you can drastically reduce print-related calls to the service desk as a result. That saves time, resources and ultimately money.

And that’s not all our solution can do. You can easily enable advanced features like Mobile Printing and BYOD Printing as well as print auditing to imbue your print environment with additional capabilities that can increase productivity, offer more flexibility and provide additional insight into your print environment. PrinterLogic’s solution delivers a level of manageability that is simply unavailable with conventional direct IP printing and a level of stability and functionality that no other Windows Print Server alternative can provide.

Hospital Print Management Solutions

Posted by Jordan Pusey

There are a lot of organizations out there running some pretty complex print environments. But if we had to say which sector tended to operate the most intricate print environments alongside incredibly stringent requirements, it would undoubtedly be healthcare. Not only are there a lot of high-pressure situations and moving logistical parts, hospitals, medical facilities and other healthcare organizations also have to ensure strict confidentiality of patient records. That makes the stakes higher in healthcare printer management than in many other industries.

Which is why it’s a shame that healthcare printer management solutions are so lacking. What you often find are Epic or MEDITECH environments—largely because these solutions can ensure HIPAA compliance in print management—in which the actual printer and driver management is sometimes a seat-of-your-pants, crossed-fingers exercise. Once a print environment is set up, it’s almost dangerous to disturb it because the balance is so delicate. Adding new drivers can cause system-wide instability. Adding new printers can inexplicably result in the loss of print functionality for certain users.

In hospital printer management scenarios where Epic is the solution of choice, the process can also be tedious because Epic requires manual intervention on each Epic Print Server (EPS) when changes are made. In dynamic environments like hospitals and medical facilities, this process is incredibly time-consuming and can in fact result in unforeseen problems because it increases the likelihood of human error. The tradeoff for HIPAA compliance in print management, it would seem, is more uncertain and laborious print management.

Organizations like OhioHealth and Princeton Community Hospital thought so too—until they discovered PrinterLogic. Our next-generation enterprise print management solution is ideal for healthcare printer management, including challenging hospital printer management implementations, because it has advanced secure printing features that can help ensure HIPAA compliance in your print management operations while also providing an ease of use that is simply unprecedented in the healthcare sector.

For example, in Epic environments, PrinterLogic completely transforms the print management paradigm for the better. Instead of having to make meticulous individual changes across each EPS, PrinterLogic allows admins to make a single change in its centralized web-based management console, which it then pushes out to every corresponding EPS. It doesn’t matter whether you’re changing a tiny setting on one printer profile or making a batch edit to the whole printer fleet—PrinterLogic saves huge amounts of time and effort, drastically reducing the investment in healthcare printer management across the entire organization.

The same could be said for MEDITECH environments. Like Epic, which has its share of well-known quirks, MEDITECH can’t be assumed to work with just any hospital printer management solution out of the box. Except for PrinterLogic, that is. PrinterLogic’s convenient centralized driver repository and its ability to avoid print-driver conflicts prevents the common driver-related issues from affecting MEDITECH printing. When an IT environment includes diverse hardware and software, PrinterLogic can be the decisive factor in ensuring high print availability and maximum uptime in the print environment. And that’s something that physicians as well as their patients will appreciate. Their lives might even depend on it.

Generally speaking, hospital printer management has a lot of room for improvement, but you can’t entrust your print environment to a healthcare printer management solution that won’t stand up to high-demand, mission-critical applications and the strict security requirements of HIPAA compliance. PrinterLogic has been field-tested in rigorous healthcare implementations that include Epic printing, MEDITECH printing and even more conventional medical print environments (such as Guthrie, the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey and Laser Spine Institute) where it’s either partially or completely eliminated the need for print servers. As complex and exacting as hospital printer management can be, it can do the same for you.

Print Server Management Is No Cake Walk

Posted by Devin Anderson

Tired of dealing with Windows Server 2012 print management and all the headache the goes along with enterprise print servers? You’re far from being the only one. Widespread dissatisfaction with traditional print management solutions like print servers has led an increasing number of organizations to discover PrinterLogic’s next-generation enterprise print management solution, which delivers unprecedented ease of use with powerful administrative capabilities and a vastly reduced infrastructure footprint.

Before we look at PrinterLogic in more detail, let’s first consider all the work that goes into print management with Windows Server 2012. To begin with, there’s the enterprise print servers themselves. These need to be purchased, housed, maintained, rebooted, upgraded and ultimately replaced. All of that requires time, expense and effort above and beyond day-to-day Server 2012 print management and all the administrative oversight that entails.

Part of that day-to-day print management of Server 2012 includes tasks like printer deployment. This often requires finicky group policy objects (GPOs) or custom-made scripts in order to get the right printers to the right users, and even those methods aren’t always reliable. Nor do they provide both the precision and the flexibility you need in a dynamic print environment. Printer and driver management leaves a lot to be desired too.

On the end-user side of things, there’s printer installation. Sometimes end users will have the ability to install printers themselves, but to do so they often have to choose blindly from a pool of printers with long and confusing names, and then they have to correctly map that printer (not an easy process for newbies) and hope that the correct drivers are available and install correctly. Print management in Server 2012 hasn’t made the process much easier compared to earlier versions of Windows Server.

Most of the time, the printer installation process is so convoluted, intentionally restricted or prone to errors that end users have to call the service desk and ask for help. That eats up the support staff’s valuable time and prevents them from concentrating on more pressing issues. Like restarting the print server, for example, after the spooler has crashed due to a driver conflict.

And this isn’t a deliberately grim illustration of Server 2012 print management. For many organizations that continue to rely on enterprise print servers, this is the daily reality they face. As one of our customers once mildly put it: “Print server management is no cakewalk.”

PrinterLogic’s unique, forward-thinking approach to enterprise print management changes all that. With PrinterLogic, you have the ability to eliminate your enterprise print servers completely and replace all of them with a single instance of our infinitely scalable print management software—even in large, geographically distributed organizations. All that cost and hassle of purchasing, maintaining and replacing print servers? It disappears.

And, unlike print management in Server 2012, PrinterLogic’s intuitive management console gives you access to and control over your entire print environment from a single pane of glass. Making changes to one or more printers is as simple as a few clicks, and it’s possible to deploy printers individually or en masse, manually or automatically, without ever having to bother with GPOs.

Plus PrinterLogic can be easily enhanced with additional functionality to suit your organization’s print environment. Are you considering Mobile and BYOD printing? Secure printing? Advanced print auditing? Seamless integration into your existing (or future) Citrix or VMware environment? In stark contrast to Server 2012’s print management, PrinterLogic can deliver all those features without resorting to third-party solutions.

With PrinterLogic, you can rid yourself of the headache of enterprise print servers and transform your print management into a streamlined, cost-effective, feature-rich platform that works for you, not against you.

SaaS Printing in Your Citrix or VMware Environment

Posted by Jordan Pusey

Software as a service (SaaS) has taken the enterprise and SMB spaces by storm, and it’s not hard to see why. SaaS solutions, such as collaborative document editing or SaaS printing, provide organizations with the ability to enjoy enterprise-level features and support at a reasonable subscription-based cost.

As the prevailing wisdom goes, however, SaaS solutions are still in their infancy and don’t always handle special requirements smoothly. Therefore they’re best suited to organizations that have traditional, run-of-the-mill IT infrastructures. So, for example, customers with a Citrix or VMware virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment wouldn’t draw much benefit from a SaaS print management solution because it would require too many workarounds to make it sufficiently time-saving or cost effective.

At PrinterLogic, we’re accustomed to challenging the prevailing wisdom. Our popular on-premises print management solution proved that organizations of any size could completely eliminate their print servers—something they once thought impossible—in exchange for a far more feature-rich and easy-to-manage enterprise printing solution that brought newfound stability and flexibility to their print environment. With incredible ROI to boot. Thanks to its seamless integration with VDI solutions, PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management software even enabled organizations with virtual environments to enjoy the same power, availability and ease of use in VDI printing. Well, now the same can be said of SaaS printing.

PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud) is PrinterLogic’s cloud print management solution, and it integrates just as seamlessly with VDI environments such as Citrix and VMware as our on-premises solution. And yet, as you might expect from PrinterLogic, PrinterLogic SaaS delivers all the benefits your organization would want to derive from the forward-thinking SaaS printing model.

In a Citrix environment, PrinterLogic SaaS imports all the information typically stored on a print server, including name, location, IP address, drivers and profiles, during the simple migration process. From that point onward, fat clients can print directly to network printers and zero clients can print to the network printers via the central Citrix server. Better still? With PrinterLogic SaaS printing, the need for print servers is gone. You can simply eliminate them from your print infrastructure. Oh, and best of all? You’ll enjoy effortless cloud-based SaaS print management that is simply unattainable with typical VDI printing solutions.

To name just a few of the advantages of SaaS print management with PrinterLogic SaaS, depending on how your organization chooses to implement our SaaS printing solution:

  • Deliver printers to end users automatically according to Active Directory (AD) criteria, subnet, hostname, etc.
  • Empower end users with a self-service portal to identify and install nearby printers themselves
  • Easily manage printers and drivers via an intuitive cloud-based administrative portal
  • Accurately deploy printers and drivers without using group policy objects (GPOs) or scripts

And because PrinterLogic SaaS is such a versatile yet consistent SaaS print management solution, the implementation and advantages are almost identical for VMware setups.

PrinterLogic SaaS refutes the idea that SaaS printing is still beyond the reach of virtual environments. By taking PrinterLogic’s advanced approach to enterprise print management and transferring it to the cloud, PrinterLogic SaaS provides organizations that use Citrix or VMware with even more flexibility in terms of cost and implementation. Take a look at this brief video to see how straightforward and effective PrinterLogic SaaS can be when it comes to SaaS print management in VDI environments, and then start your free trial to see how seamlessly it can be implemented in your organization.

Fixing VDI Printing Problems: Heavy WAN Usage

Posted by Devin Anderson

There’s a fundamental drawback to centralized virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments that can be summed up in three letters: W-A-N. And, as we’ll see, this can have a serious impact on your VDI printing in VMware or Citrix.

As you probably already know, WAN stands for wide area network—the link to the networked world beyond your immediate four walls. VDI solutions place a heavy reliance on the WAN because they swap a purely local environment for one that is hosted centrally or offsite. In distributed environments, this means that the data transfer that traditionally took place within the client terminal itself is instead relayed over the WAN connection. Although this architecture has many advantages, VDI printing is not one of them.

That’s because VDI printing in VMware, Citrix and other virtual solutions puts additional strain on the WAN. Printing is an inherently data-intensive operation, and that goes double for VDI printing, as print jobs can easily consume your finite WAN throughput and balloon in size as they are bounced from client to server, server to server, all the while subjected to different rendering or compatibility measures before finally being relayed to the local network printer. Some organizations have implemented VDI printing solutions to improve the functionality of out-of-the-box VDI printing, yet these can actually lead to even more WAN load because they increase the number of rendering or relay steps.

Unlike these inferior VDI printing solutions, PrinterLogic’s next-generation enterprise print management solution was designed to have both a small physical footprint and a small network footprint. It uses direct IP technology to create one-to-one connections between client devices and network printers, so print job data travels along the most efficient and direct route—thereby reducing the WAN traffic in VDI printing scenarios. What’s more, PrinterLogic is so compact and powerful that you can replace your entire print server infrastructure with one on-premise server running a single instance of our infinitely scalable software.

For VDI printing with VMware, PrinterLogic seamlessly integrates with the virtual solution to enhance its print capabilities and manageability. After implementing PrinterLogic in your VMware environment, you’ll be able to dynamically and automatically deliver printers to end users on the basis of criteria like Active Directory (AD) user, group, organizational unit (OU), IP address, as well as hardware identifiers. That means you can enjoy features promised by advanced VDI printing solutions—including location-based printing—without the usual caveats like greater reliance on the WAN.

The same can be said for VDI printing with Citrix. Depending on how you choose to implement PrinterLogic, you can configure VDI printing using the Citrix Universal printer (for increased printer compatibility), using Citrix auto-created printers (preferred in many environments) or using session printers (to unlock additional PrinterLogic-exclusive features). Whichever way works best for your organization, PrinterLogic is able to leverage direct IP printing to reduce WAN usage to a minimum during VDI printing. That frees up bandwidth for other WAN-reliant applications and eliminates a key point of failure in the print environment.

Through PrinterLogic, it’s possible to regain complete control over VDI printing while addressing one of its most glaring vulnerabilities—regardless of whether you’re VDI printing using VMware, Citrix or a niche virtual solution. PrinterLogic stands out among VDI printing solutions on account of its seamless integration, cost effectiveness, high availability and unparalleled ease of management, not to mention its ability to eliminate print servers completely. With it, you’ll be able to keep VDI printing from burdening the WAN while taking print management to a whole new level.

Fixing VDI Printing Problems: Improper Print Driver Installation

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments—usually in the form of solutions from VMware or Citrix—are used by thousands of organizations across all sectors on account of their simplicity and flexibility. Well, that is, except when it comes to VDI printing. As many IT veterans can attest, printing problems come with the territory when using these virtual solutions.

The underlying reasons for these VDI printing problems have a lot to do with the VDI architecture itself. This is most notable when dealing with print drivers, because drivers can be installed in one of several ways in VDI printing environments—yet none of these methods is entirely without its shortcomings. In day to day use, these shortcomings can lead to improper print driver installations that cause myriad problems such as failed print jobs, inability to print, printing to the wrong printer, spooler crashes and more.

So how does print driver installation go off the rails? That’s best answered by looking in a bit more detail at how print driver installation is carried out in VDI printing environments.

Golden image installation: In this scenario, the print drivers for every printer in use within an organization are installed on the golden images that are the basis for the thin or zero clients in the VDI environment. This is acceptable for fairly fixed and static print environments, but large or dynamic organizations tend to shy away from this method because one change or update, however minor, requires a complete reinstallation of those print drivers on the golden images. It’s not hard to see how this cumbersome, space-hungry method can result in driver mix-ups and cause VDI printing issues for large numbers of users if one thing is amiss.

End-user installation: Instead of installing every single driver for every single printer on the golden image, the print drivers that a user will need (and usually only those drivers) are installed in the end user’s dedicated account. This is more customized in some respects, but it results in two potential VDI printing problems. The first is bloat. With individual printer drivers replicated across multiple accounts, this method can easily begin taking up vast amounts of storage. The second is that end users can only access a limited pool of pre-determined drivers, so their VDI printing will be complicated should they move to new or unexpected locations.

Session installation: By installing the print drivers fresh with each new session, this method sidesteps the drawbacks of the previous two methods by reducing storage overhead and making it better suited for dynamic environments. Unfortunately, it also resets end users’ printer profile settings by default and often requires a more complex initiation process that prolongs logon times and doesn’t always deliver the correct drivers. Essentially, it exchanges one set of VDI printing issues for another.

Because none of these driver installation methods is ideal, it’s not uncommon for organizations to go out looking for VDI printing solutions that will correct (or at least mitigate) some of the drawbacks of VDI printing. What they soon discover is that many VDI printing solutions are stopgaps. Either these solutions add another software layer—another layer to manage, another layer to negotiate—on top of an already complex VDI printing environment, or they create a parallel VDI printing framework that forces end users and admins to work within a new set of rules and VDI printing methodologies.

PrinterLogic’s on-premises enterprise print management solution is unique among VDI printing solutions because it seamlessly integrates with virtual environments like Citrix and VMware and complements their VDI printing paradigm by leveraging centralized administration, precise yet effortless deployment without the need for group policy objects (GPOs) and scripts, and a self-service portal that enables end users to easily identify and install printers themselves—all of which work to address the root causes of improper driver installation. And not only can PrinterLogic eliminate VDI printing issues that stem from poor driver management and deployment, it can even help your organization eliminate printer servers too. However you ultimately choose to implement it, PrinterLogic brings unprecedented ease and oversight to VDI printing.