What Are My Options for Driverless Printing Solutions?

For a long time now, the never-ending struggle of managing and maintaining printer drivers has been a major source of grief among admins, regardless of the size or nature of their print environment. Sometimes it seems the only reason they call them “drivers” is because they never fail to drive you up a wall. If your entire printer fleet is made up a single printer model from a single manufacturer or you’re already using a driverless printing solution, maybe driver management isn’t such a nightmare for you. But the majority of print environments are a hodgepodge of printing devices—some new, some legacy—that pose a challenge to driver management.

Even a distributed organization that uses only one brand of printer runs into challenges with driver management. If they employ localized print servers, admins typically maintain drivers for every model on each print server. That’s a laborious process. If there are 32- and 64-bit drivers to support different operating systems, admins often have to create two separate servers to avoid the wrong version from being installed—effectively doubling their workload. If the incorrect driver is installed on a client because of confusing naming conventions or a glitch in the deployment process, it can lead to spooler crashes and printing errors. That’s how driver-management problems can cascade into persistent and widespread printing problems.

Is getting rid of drivers the right answer?
Frustration with these common issues leads some IT decision-makers to consider driverless printing solutions. One common go-to is CUPS, a well-known and free choice for driverless printing. CUPS was first released in 1999, and has a long and respectable open-source history for bridging the gap between a variety of operating systems and printing devices. The major problem with CUPS is it belongs to the realm of driver-specific solutions and not print-management solutions. It may solve some driver issues, but often requires extensive configuration and doesn’t make administrative tasks like printer deployment much easier.

Another option is to buy printing devices that have built-in support for driverless printing. This can be expensive, and the drawback is that manufacturers have different ways of implementing driver-free protocols, so you could be looking at one type of driverless printing for your Canon devices and another type for your HP devices. Not to mention it does nothing to help with legacy printers.

Finally, you can look at third-party software that touts driverless printing. But like CUPS, very few of these solutions are actually print-management solutions. As such, they’re not likely to make printer deployment and administration easier—and could end up adding complexity to your print environment.

Effortless print management, not driverless printing
Instead of a driverless printing solution, what you really need is a print-management solution that enables you to maintain and manage drivers effortlessly. A print-management solution with a single centralized driver repository for your entire organization, enabling you to increase standardization and avoid compounding your administrative effort. A solution that allows you to assign a specific driver to a particular printer model across your print environment simply by ticking a checkbox. One that makes it as easy to update printer drivers as it is to roll them back if you’re experiencing unexpected incompatibilities. One that allows you to maintain 32- and 64-bit drivers side by side, for example, without worrying about the wrong version getting installed.

That’s exactly what PrinterLogic delivers. Our enterprise print-management solution makes driver management a breeze and prevents those all too common driver issues from ballooning into larger printing problems. PrinterLogic’s centralized admin console gives you a window onto your entire print environment, including all of your printer drivers, and its intuitive but powerful interface makes adjusting profile settings and deployment configurations as simple as using a dropdown menu. It turns the nightmare of driver management into one of those beautiful dreams that you never want to see end.

Eliminating the driver-management pain point—even in intricate virtual environments like VMware and Citrix—is how PrinterLogic provides an attractive alternative to driverless printing in the first place. Its unparalleled driver management capability, its remarkable printing stability (thanks to direct-IP printing), and its remarkable ease of use for admins and end users alike, helps you eliminate driver woes (not to mention your print servers) once and for all.

Solved—VMware Printer Not Mapping

No matter what the shape or size of your VMware environment, chances are you’ve run into VMware printing issues along the way. Given that printing is a basic need in most organizations, it can be a struggle to get right, especially in VDI environments.

To make matters worse, the reasons why VMware printing is as varied as the number of configurations and environments. One of the more common problems we hear about is mapping. What form mapping takes will depend on the provisioning method you’re using, so let’s start by reviewing the two printer- deployment methods used in VMware printing.

Frequently used in dynamic environments where users move around a lot, location-based printing is a provisioning method that delivers printers to end users based on variable criteria. Given a user’s access to printing relies on a set of conditions being met (if X, then Y), it’s not unheard of to have misfires in location-based printing scenarios. One of the resulting VMware printing issues is failed or improper printer mapping.

The alternative is printer redirection, which is also known to cause its share of problems. In this scenario, a local printer is mapped into the remote session so it’s visible and accessible to the VDI server via the endpoint device. This, too, relies on multiple steps—including queries for properly named drivers—being completed successfully for a printer to map properly. It’s a somewhat abstract process that can be confusing and frustrating to end users who see a desktop and a nearby printer and can’t understand why VMware printing doesn’t work. Cue the help-desk calls.

With that understanding of the two available provisioning methods, the underlying basis for potential mapping errors should be, too.

There are several standard solutions to VMware printing issues like the ones we’ve described. First, if you’re using VMware View and printer redirection, make sure there isn’t a problem with the View agent, which is the vital liaison between the client and server. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, proceed to reinstalling the View agent on the machine that’s experiencing VMware printing problems. If the printer still does not map properly, stop and restart printer redirection using the following commands: tpautoconnect -d (to stop) followed by tpautoconnect -v (to start).

If VMware printing still doesn’t work, there could be more serious issues in play, and you should probably consult VMware support for more in-depth assistance.

For location-based printing, it’s most likely that the printer-deployment policies or scripts aren’t getting the printers to map correctly. Since these scenarios depend on your use case, it’s recommended you review them for conflicts, permissions issues and coding errors.

Solve your mapping issues and other VMware printing problems with PrinterLogic
PrinterLogic designed its PrinterLogic Web Stack (formerly Printer Installer) to improve operational efficiency and printer control. By using a web-based admin console, self-service installation features, and an unobtrusive end-user client, PrinterLogic solves VMware printing-related problems by converting printers to centrally-managed direct-IP printing. This eliminates print servers—and unnecessary WAN traffic.

PrinterLogic does this without complex printer deployment scripts and GPOs. These old-school, cumbersome methods are replaced by the PrinterLogic Web Stack Client, which receives direction from automatic printer-deployment assignments created in the admin console.

But that’s not all. This combination gives admins full control over printer-driver assignments, while at the same time empowering end users from the client side using the built-in Self-service Installation Portal. End users can easily find a printer nearby and install it with a few clicks.

Rather than spending days, weeks or even months trying to troubleshoot printer mapping issues in VMware, you can deploy PrinterLogic to augment printing and print management in VMware. PrinterLogic is a next-generation enterprise print management solution that integrates seamlessly with VMware and Active Directory to simplify and streamline printer deployment, driver management as well as routine printing.

By taking the pain out of printer redirection—and eliminating GPOs and scripts—PrinterLogic enables you to deliver the right printers to the right users every time, without the usual printer-mapping hassles. At the same time, PrinterLogic’s direct-IP printing paradigm can fully eliminate print servers from your organization while providing more functionality, more stability, and more convenience.

Solved: Citrix Printing Delay

We’ve covered—and solved!—several common Citrix printing problems (such as WAN vulnerabilities and Virtual Apps-specific issues) in previous blog posts, but this time I’d like to concentrate on one that’s slightly more broad but no less frustrating: the Citrix printing delay.

Whether you’re a seasoned Citrix expert or you’ve just launched a Citrix environment in your organization for the first time, your head might be nodding at the mention of a Citrix printing delay. Citrix solutions bring a huge list of advantages to your computing experience, as we all know, but it’s also not unusual for admins to find that Citrix printing is slow.

And when Citrix printing is slow, your end users start to grow agitated. That’s never fun.

There are a number of reasons why the speed of your Citrix printing might be suffering, and nearly all of them have to do with the nature of a virtual environment, regardless of whether you’re dealing with thick, thin or zero clients. When a print job is forced to make one or more network hops across the WAN as it travels between the remote client and the local printer, the risk increases that it will encounter bandwidth restrictions or interruptions in WAN connectivity. There are simply more variables, more moving parts, more potential points of failure, and they all cause speed-related Citrix printing problems.

PrinterLogic is the ideal solution to the Citrix printing delay. With its ability to integrate seamlessly into any Citrix environment, PrinterLogic acts as a replacement or complement to your preferred method of Citrix printing. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the Citrix Universal Printer, auto-created printers or session printers: Unlike many self-styled Citrix printing solutions, PrinterLogic is versatile and powerful enough to be deployed alongside Citrix without compromising any of the features you need and enjoy.

How does PrinterLogic address printing speed in Citrix with such success? It has to do with the distinctive way our next-generation solution fuses direct IP printing with centralized management. By establishing direct connections between remote clients and local printers, PrinterLogic is able to reduce WAN usage and all its inevitable pitfalls in Citrix printing scenarios. Print jobs can now be routed straight from the client to the printer and will no longer be susceptible to WAN outages or bottlenecking.

But PrinterLogic goes one step further. It restores ease and simplicity to Citrix print management, creating an additional bulwark against the kinds of printer installation hiccups and driver issues that can also cause Citrix printing to be slow.

For example, PrinterLogic eliminates group policy deployment errors by eliminating GPOs and scripts from Citrix print management altogether. With PrinterLogic, you can now deliver printers to users automatically and accurately on the basis of a whole host of Active Directory criteria—and even improve proximity (or location-based) printing in dynamic Citrix environments.

PrinterLogic also has a convenient self-service printer installation portal than enables end users to identify and safely install nearby printers with a single click. Not only does this avoid the myriad Citrix printing problems that stem from failed deployments, it also means that end users are getting the closest or most practical printer, which keeps Citrix printing from becoming slow.

That boost in speed and reliability is something they’ll appreciate more than brand new computers. And your helpdesk will too.

You might also be pleased to discover that PrinterLogic can eliminate print servers too, which removes yet another point of failure from your print environment as well as the headache—and cost—that print servers inevitably bring. That’s how PrinterLogic does more than just speed up Citrix printing. It also streamlines Citrix print management.

Reduce Printing Costs with PrinterLogic SaaS

Once organizations realize how much they’re actually spending on SMB or enterprise printing, they often want to take immediate steps to reduce print costs. The question that naturally arises is, what do those steps look like? If they were doable or obvious, why weren’t they being taken since the beginning?

The truth is that it’s not uncommon for organizations to overlook the excesses in their printing and print management costs because, well, they’re not assumed to be excesses at all. When an employee is regularly printing ordinary documents on a color printer, for example, you might be surprised to find how many companies simply chalk that up to the way things are. It’s the same when companies are devoting hours and hours to routine tasks like monitoring and rebooting print servers or troubleshooting printer installation issues.

Basic tips for reducing printing costs
To effectively reduce printing costs, the first thing to do is reset all your assumptions about what SMB and enterprise printing is and instead focus on what it should be. If employees should be printing almost exclusively in black and white, then their default printer settings should automatically revert to black and white. If departmental printing trends need to be monitored to ensure that printer and consumables usage are being kept in check, then a reliable and useful print auditing system should be in place.

It’s also necessary to consider print management as a vital component of your organization’s printing. Are your IT and support staff spending more time deploying printers and scrambling to deal with printing issues than they should be? How might the elimination of unnecessary print infrastructure reduce overall printing costs permanently? Are print servers even worth it? (Spoiler: No, they’re not.)

These hard-to-quantify expenditures on print management tend to get overlooked when organizations are trying to implement these tips for reducing printing costs, and that in turn reduces the potential impact of any cost-saving initiative.

Integration, not initiatives: How PrinterLogic SaaS helps to reduce printing costs
PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud) is a next-generation, cloud-based SaaS print management solution from PrinterLogic. It’s been designed to simplify print management in a holistic and fundamental way, which means that measures to reduce printing costs are integrated right into our solution from the moment it’s deployed. And that integration makes all the difference. Unlike initiatives, which can come and go depending on the resources needed to implement them, company policy or employee buy-in, PrinterLogic SaaS shifts the print management paradigm so cost-saving is a matter of course.

Unlike lesser cloud-based printing solutions, PrinterLogic SaaS deploys seamlessly alongside your existing print infrastructure and has no requirements like special printers with proprietary functionality or extra servers. In fact, PrinterLogic SaaS—like its proven on-premises counterpart—enables you to eliminate print servers completely from your print environment. Not only does that eliminate the ongoing costs of purchasing, maintaining and upgrading those print servers, it also eliminates the frustrating, time-consuming and expensive aspects of having to deal with them and their vulnerabilities.

PrinterLogic SaaS is able to do that through a powerful and unique combination of direct IP printing and centralized management. That means you can deploy and administer printers—right down to their most detailed settings—anywhere in the organization from a single pane of glass. And thanks to direct IP printing, your print environment is no longer susceptible to shared spooler crashes or even WAN outages. That uptime equates to cost savings that aren’t always apparent until you’ve abandoned print servers for good.

Just as importantly, PrinterLogic SaaS features built-in print auditing functionality to help reduce printer costs organization-wide. You can easily pinpoint your heaviest users or have printing trends sent automatically to managers and department heads on a regular basis. PrinterLogic SaaS’s Print Auditing also gives you its own tips for reducing printing costs, such as printer consolidation guidance and real-world cost analysis.

No other print management solution will get your print environment as lean and streamlined as PrinterLogic SaaS, and no other print management solution can promise the oversight and ease of management that PrinterLogic SaaS does. Ready to start saving money? Sign up for the free trial period.

Print Management Security in the Cloud

Security is a hot topic in the technology field and print management security shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. Confidential documents being printed each day, IT staff is at work to make sure the right people access the right printers, and even integrating with existing security technologies such as badge readers at the printer are all needing to be managed better. As infrastructure is moving to the cloud we can start looking at PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud), to start addressing these security issues.

We’ll cover three topics that PrinterLogic SaaS will help with:

  1. Give print access to the right people
  2. Hold print jobs until users are in front of the printer
  3. Use badge swipe to release held print jobs

PrinterLogic SaaS gives IT administrators and help-desk staff the ability to manage network printers without the need of a print server. Included in the management capabilities is the ability to auto-deploy printers as well as publish printers for self-installation without needing to setup complicated GPOs or scripts. For example, you can target Active Directory Users, Computers, Groups, Containers, and OUs to automatically install printers. This guarantees that users will automatically have printers installed that IT staff knows they should have installed.

PrinterLogic SaaS also has a self-service installation web page that users can access to install printers on their own. They find a printer on a floor plan map or in a list, click on it, and select “Yes” to install. On the backend, IT staff can make sure that the printers are published to the correct users by using PrinterLogic SaaS’s portal security filters. The filters include:

  • Active Directory User
  • Active Directory Computer
  • Active Directory Group
  • Active Directory Container
  • Active Directory OU
  • IP Address Range
  • Hostname
  • MAC Address

An example would be with an executive’s printer. You can isolate that printer in the PrinterLogic SaaS management interface to only show up on that executive’s self-installation webpage and no one else’s.

Now that we have the correct printers to the right printer, let’s address holding sensitive print jobs until users are in front of their printer. PrinterLogic SaaS calls this Secure Printing. With PrinterLogic SaaS’s Secure Printing, users can securely send a print job to the printer, choose to hold it, and then walk up to the printer to release the print job. They can authenticate using their Active Directory credentials on a web based release portal using their phone, tablet, laptop, or a kiosk device that has internet connectivity. This will present a menu where the users can select a job to release and it will print to the printer are in front of.

PrinterLogic SaaS can take advantage of security badges today by using a printer application that is designed to be installed on certain models of Ricoh, Lexmark, and Dell (Lexmark) MFPs. What this allows a user to do is send a print job from their computer, walk up to the printer, select the PrinterLogic SaaS icon on the MFPs touch screen, and swipe a badge to release the print job. It is required that the Ricoh MFPs be on platform 10, 11, and 12 and also have the Java module added to them. The Lexmark machines need to be on framework 3.x, 4.x, or 5.x. PrinterLogic SaaS will continue to add more make and model support.

With the ability to now easily distribute printers to the correct people, IT staff doesn’t have to worry about anyone erroneously printing to HR printers, executive printers, or to specialty printers such as plotters and receipt printers. HR and Finance departments can safely print their documents without racing over to the office MFP before someone sees their sensitive documents. We find that users become more accountable for what they are printing and paper waste is actually eliminated when using the secure print feature.

To see all these features and more, all you have to do is go to www.printerlogic.com/printercloud and click “Start Trial.” That will give you all the access you need to start securely managing your network printing environment.