Don’t Overlook the Ongoing Costs of Print Servers

Print servers have always been an expensive venture, although their status as an established print-management solution has led many organizations tend to overlook just how expensive they really are. Of course, there are the obvious costs of purchase and licensing, but what about their indirect costs like downtime and end-user support? That’s why we set out to eliminate print servers with our next-generation print-management software.

While total cost of ownership (TCO) naturally scales upward at the enterprise level and creates a stronger financial incentive for large, distributed organizations to look for alternative print-management solutions, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) stand to benefit just as much from eliminating print servers and implementing a more streamlined, tailored solution like PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud).

However, there are some common misconceptions that hinder SMBs from parting with their print servers for good and choosing the best print-management solution for their needs. In the enterprise, these tend to center around unique issues like multi-site distribution (something we’ve debunked in the past) and whole-fleet printer migrations. In the SMB arena, we find that these misconceptions about the true ongoing costs of print servers have a more pragmatic flavor.

“Our print server licensing is already bundled in our enterprise server licenses.”
Licensing is typically only a tiny fraction of the TCO of print-management software; there’s a significant hardware dimension to print servers that’s easy to ignore. Powering, cooling, upkeep, updates and hardware upgrades are significant ongoing investments. These costs usually don’t appear as line items in the IT budget, which makes them harder to identify and tie to a given print-management solution.

“The biggest ongoing cost is upgrades, and we only upgrade our print servers occasionally.”
Upgrading print servers is more expensive than you might realize. Calculating hardware expense doesn’t account for the cost of print server migration, downtime, man hours and lost productivity during the transitioning period. And at the end of it all, you’re still stuck with a print-server-based environment along with all its other costs and drawbacks.

If upgrades are rare in your organization, that makes them an ideal (and important) opportunity to scan the field to see what alternatives are available. The best print-management solution could be one you haven’t tried yet.

“Print-server costs are already factored into our IT budget.”
Budgeting an expense doesn’t mean that you should ignore the chance to save money. Would you turn down a no-strings opportunity to save money on your electricity bill because you’d already budgeted for the more expensive cost? The same rationale applies to print servers. Migrating to an efficient, small-footprint print-management solution like PrinterLogic means you can budget less toward print management going forward.

“Okay, so once you’ve tallied up the figures for hardware, licensing, upgrade, redundancy and operation, there are no additional print server costs. Right?”
Print servers are intrinsically high maintenance. They’re prone to driver conflicts, print-spooler crashes and other issues, and they put a lot of productivity at the mercy of a single point of failure. Self-service options for end users are limited, which places greater demand on help-desk resources. This constant struggle with support and troubleshooting adds up to countless hours squandered on dealing with printing downtime and routine help-desk tickets.

Eliminate print server costs with PrinterLogic
Regardless of whether your organization prefers on-prem or software-as-a-service (SaaS), you have a choice in the best print-management solution for your environment. PrinterLogic can both eliminate print servers—along with their ongoing, often overlooked costs. Try a demo of PrinterLogic’s on-prem print-management software or PrinterLogic’s SaaS solution for free for one month to see which is right for you.

How Pull Printing Improves Security and Reduces Costs

Pull printing solutions are gaining traction in the enterprise, not least because of increased concerns over data breaches and security compliance. Although enterprise print-management professionals love the advantages of pull printing functionality, some of which we’ll outline below, these printing solutions can be difficult to implement through a traditional print-server architecture. PrinterLogic’s secure pull printing module offers a rare combination of convenience, cost savings and security.

Pull printing gives end users more control over how their print jobs are executed. In a typical scenario, if a user in the HR department wants to print a confidential document to a shared printer, the user would click “Print” and then immediately run over to the printer to collect the document. If there’s a large print queue, the user ends up waiting at the printer for their document. If the user is delayed by a telephone call or urgent email, then that confidential document ends up waiting in the output tray, where it can be seen by anyone, potentially compromising the sensitive information it contains.

Pull printing solutions instead turn this into a deliberate two-step operation for reasons of security and economy. Print jobs are sent from the workstation but are intentionally held at some point along the printing chain. This means the user can print as usual from any workstation, but the job is not executed (i.e., released) until that user authenticates at the printer.

With the pull printing feature found in many enterprise print-management solutions, this otherwise simple two-step process comes with several caveats. The compatibility with different makes and models of printers is often limited. Their release mechanisms might hold the pending print jobs on a server or at the printer itself, resulting in a serious security risk by creating an easy-to-target intercept for malicious actors. Or, commonly, the pull printing capability doesn’t integrate seamlessly with the entire print environment, which can cause driver or OS issues.

PrinterLogic’s pull-printing module is more flexible and secure than many other pull printing solutions—without introducing more complexity for IT administrators. Its unique centrally managed direct-IP model leverages serverless pull printing to avoid the security risks inherent in traditional approaches. Users aren’t tied to a specific printer and can release a job any pull printing-enabled machine anywhere in the organization. And pull printing management is easier on administrators and end users alike, because they can choose any one of three different release mechanisms depending on policy and preference:

  • Badge/card reader release: If your organization uses ID cards, you can integrate secure pull printing into your existing badge authentication system, even if you use CAC/PIV-based security.
  • Embedded control panel release: Our embedded app can be installed directly on most printers, end users can authenticate and release print jobs right from the printer’s control panel using Active Directory, or a simple PIN.
  • Browser-based release: Users can release their print jobs using the native web browser found on any mobile device (e.g., Chromebook, iPad, Android tablet). These mobile devices can be free-floating, or dedicated pull printing terminals that operate in kiosk mode and are associated with a nearby printer.

PrinterLogic’s pull printing module lets you give any printer pull capability—even legacy devices, so you don’t have to replace your existing hardware in order to get next-generation printing functionality. To test PrinterLogic in your environment and see how secure pull printing can go hand in hand with effortless enterprise print management, sign up for a free, full-featured 30-day trial.

Why Switch from Windows Server to PrinterLogic for Print Management?

As part of the natural upgrade cycle, it’s not uncommon for organizations to migrate to the latest Windows Server release out of familiarity or force of habit. And even though Windows Server 2012 R2 (or 2016, for that matter) have some useful print-management benefits, they don’t do nearly enough to solve the underlying problems with print servers.

As a result, many organizations still struggle with longstanding print-management problems—even after a server upgrade. Let’s look at some of the perpetual issues associated with the latest Windows Server iterations and consider why your organization may want to move to PrinterLogic for print management instead.

Two compromises
Print servers, regardless of their underlying OS, are typically deployed in one of two configurations: distributed or consolidated. Both have serious drawbacks. When localized print servers are distributed throughout an organization, it creates a fragmented environment that complicates centralized print management—especially when it comes to managing drivers.

When print servers are consolidated, centralized print management is somewhat easier, but network performance takes a hit because print jobs need to travel to the main server and then back to the local printer.

This is especially problematic with remote sites, where the WAN connection becomes the lone lifeline to the primary server. To sum it up, when it comes to print management, using print servers in either scenario leaves organizations with a difficult choice between a rock and a hard place.

Bad policies
Most organizations using Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, or earlier iterations rely on group policy for printer deployment. This would be okay if setting up group policy objects (GPOs) were straightforward and reliable, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The harsh reality is that GPOs are a tangle of hierarchies and contingencies that are notorious for interfacing poorly with Active Directory in enterprise environments. When print-management GPOs malfunction, printers fail to deploy correctly and users are left with the inability to print, grayed-out printers, missing printers or a jumble of duplicates. That invariably leads to a call to the help desk, where the support team can be thwarted by group policy’s strict rights management, which restricts control of certain deployments and printing properties to administrators in the name of security.

The result: The failed deployment then becomes a time-sensitive support ticket waiting on admin intervention.

Limited control, limited oversight
You wouldn’t know it from their popularity, but print servers don’t make print management easy or intuitive—and that’s as true for admins as it is for end users. Adjusting printing properties or driver profiles for groups of users or departments can take an admin hours, and still not result in the desired default settings.

The simple act of installing a printer can force end users to hunt through confusing directory trees and force them to guess at the correct printer based on cryptic naming conventions. What’s more, print servers offer limited visibility into the print environment, making effective auditing a challenge that can lead to the added expense of a third-party solution.

PrinterLogic: The next generation of printing solutions
The problems IT and users suffer through with Windows print servers are solved with PrinterLogic. Our enterprise print-management software enables you to eliminate your print servers entirely while retaining the benefits of centralized print management from a single pane of glass.

With PrinterLogic, you’ll have granular control over printing properties, powerful print-management options and oversight, and precision deployments with none of the GPOs and rights management headaches that come with servers.

Whether you use our traditional, on-prem solution, or the SaaS version, PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud), both solutions reduce physical infrastructure (and the attendant hard and soft costs), slash print-related help-desk expenses, and improve performance, manageability and user satisfaction.

And whether you deploy PrinterLogic in a mid-sized, one-location firm, or across a highly distributed enterprise, you no longer have to worry about print-related network bottlenecks. PrinterLogic’s patent-pending approach, using centrally managed direct-IP printing, relays print jobs direct from the client workstation to the destination printer. No WAN hops are necessary.

Printer deployments are easier and more convenient for both the admin and the end user. Admins can deliver printers to users via PrinterLogic’s easy-to-configure automated deployments through a seamless Active Directory integration, or users can install a printer on their own by visiting our acclaimed self-installation portal to install a nearby device, using a visual floor plan map, on their own, with a single click (and without costly help-desk interventions).

Check out these stats: PrinterLogic enjoys a customer retention rate of 97 percent. More than 85 percent of PrinterLogic customers report an ROI within one year, and many see a 200% ROI within two years. And if that weren’t enough, PrinterLogic’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a broadly accepted customer loyalty metric, is higher than Sony and Apple.

Seeing is believing, though, which is why we encourage you to sign up for a full-featured demo today. Test drive PrinterLogic for 30 days. Experience how its effortless, enterprise-class centralized print management stacks up against Windows print servers in your organization.

How to Eliminate Common Printer Installation Issues

Posted by Brian Wistisen

On an enterprise scale, printer installation hang-ups cause significant losses in productivity and serious burdens on IT support teams. While these issues have a clear and direct impact on the organization’s bottom line, they also detract from more important—and potentially more profitable—initiatives in the organization. That’s why we say that suboptimal print management practices can cost an organization twice over.

Thanks to PrinterLogic’s efficient centralized print-management approach, organizations can streamline printer installations, reduce printing downtime, and access advanced features like mobile and pull printing.

Here are some common printer-installation woes and ways in which PrinterLogic’s enterprise print-management software addresses them.

Wrong default printer: One of the most common printer installation problems occurs when jobs are sent to the wrong printer. Fixing this is usually a matter of selecting the desired printer and making it the default again. But if you employ a print server, it’s not uncommon for this setting to revert to the wrong default device every time the user logs in.

Inability to print: Printer installations can result in the user not being able to print at all. When print functionality is lost, it’s often a driver issue. The selected driver may not be compatible with the printer itself, or the OS on the client workstation. This happens when a 64-bit driver is paired with a 32-bit system, or when the driver wasn’t deployed correctly in the first place. There might also be a print job stuck in the queue preventing the new jobs from printing.

Cloud/mobile printing difficulties: Although the symptoms of mobile or cloud printer installation problems resemble their hardwired counterparts, the root causes are different. Mobile and cloud printing solutions often involve more back-end steps and layers of abstraction to achieve the same results. This can result in users not being able to “see” and select the desired device among the available destination printers. Some popular cloud-printing solutions also have limited device compatibility, which prevents printer installation before it even begins.

Thanks to PrinterLogic’s unique combination of direct-IP printing and centralized management, you can avoid printer installation problems like these—even in challenging Citrix environments.

Here’s how:

  • Centralized printer management: Using PrinterLogic’s admin console, you can select the default printer for any computer by simply clicking a checkbox. You can set the default printer for the first printer installation, each time the user logs on, or by the user’s current location. No scripts or group policy objects (GPOs) necessary.
  • Automatic driver deployment and conflict prevention: Through the same central console, it’s possible to deploy drivers to end users automatically—ensuring that the right driver for the right printer always gets to the right user. With PrinterLogic Web Stack (formerly Printer Installer) or PrinterLogic SaaS (formerly PrinterCloud), you can maintain a central driver repository so all client devices have access to the same pool of drivers. That makes printer installation a far more reliable process.
  • Native BYOD/mobile printing: PrinterLogic offers a dedicated mobile printing solution that bypasses the frequent causes of printer installation problems for mobile and BYOD users. Users get immediate, straightforward printing from any mobile device to any authorized printer—all without the need for client-side software.

By design, PrinterLogic Web Stack and PrinterLogic SaaS eliminate persistent printer installation issues in the same way that they completely eliminate the need for print servers. This streamlines every aspect of enterprise print management for administrators and support staff. Their intuitive self-service printer installation portal even empowers end users with the ability to locate, identify and install printers entirely by themselves without having to call the help desk for assistance.

To put an end to printer-installation problems in your organization and see how incredible centralized printer management with direct IP can be, request a free demo of PrinterLogic Web Stack or PrinterLogic SaaS. You can test their features for 30 days and discover their cost-effective, time-saving benefits for yourself.