Printing for Businesses with Multiple Locations

Print servers are the go-to choice when it comes to a corporate printing infrastructure.
Conventional direct IP printing is different than server printing. With direct IP, printers are managed on a workstation-by-workstation basis. Print servers bring some degree of manageability to the print environment. If your organization operates from multiple locations, manageability and oversight are top priorities.
There are two common ways to deploy print servers in distributed print environments: consolidated and localized.

Consolidated printing infrastructure: pros and cons

Consolidated print server infrastructure means that the entire organization uses just one print server printing. The main advantages to this are simplicity and cost. IT only has one print server to manage, and the organization is only paying to operate that one print server.
  • Increased WAN dependency: Remote branches connect to the organization’s print server via the WAN. That forces print traffic to compete for bandwidth with other data. The result is slow and unreliable printing.
  • Massive single point of failure: If WAN access is interrupted, printing stops for everyone. If the print server goes down for any reason, printing stops for the entire organization. Many companies keep a backup print server to create redundancy.
  • Creeping IT overhead and costs: Costs add up once you start adding secondary print servers to the environment. Consolidation has less impact when there’s more infrastructure to manage and maintain.

Localized printing infrastructure: pros and cons

A localized, or distributed, printing infrastructure places print servers at multiple locations. Those locations might be every single remote branch. Or they might be limited to regional hubs.
Unlike the other option, this shares the printing load among several servers. It also reduces WAN dependency. When the print spooler crashes or the server goes offline, the downtime will only affect a small pool of users. As good as it sounds, this still doesn’t mean that localized print servers are the ultimate answer.
  • Upgrades and maintenance are expensive: Introducing more print servers might add resilience. But expanding the printing infrastructure also multiplies the costs of maintaining those servers.
  • Management is more difficult: Distributing your print servers fragments the larger print environment. Each print server becomes its own sphere that needs to be managed separately. Driver management is especially challenging.

Other issues in multi-location corporate printing

Printing infrastructure isn’t the only problem that multi-location organizations deal with. Unless each branch office has its own IT department, they’re serviced either remotely or by roaming IT professionals. This means response times for IT issues get worse. Furthermore, it can lead to hefty commuting expenses.
Distributed print environments use different makes and models of printers at each location. Although that might sound cost-effective at first, it comes with issues. Different models of servers means the overall print environment becomes harder to manage. There are more variables, making compatibility issues more likely.

PrinterLogic unifies distributed print environments

PrinterLogic’s serverless printing infrastructure addresses every pitfall of multi-location corporate printing.
Through its unique combo of centralized management and direct IP printing, PrinterLogic is able to eliminate print servers and all their problems. At the same time, it brings unified oversight and control to the entire print environment.
Seventy-Seven Energy, an oilfield services company headquartered in Oklahoma, had a choice between installing print servers at each of its 38 locations or rolling out PrinterLogic.
They parted ways with legacy printing infrastructure and opted instead for scalable direct IP printing with PrinterLogic. Now they manage their nationwide print environment from a single pane of glass and support their BYOD and mobile employees with robust print capabilities. Read the case study here.

How to Reduce Careless Employee Printing

While I don’t want to get down on employees (after all, I’m an employee myself), it’s no secret that their printing habits can be kind of, well, careless. The average worker prints about 34 pages a day, yet 17% of those pages go unused. Close to two-thirds of the documents they do print are thrown away or recycled on the same day.

That can have a big impact on the cost of your corporate printing. If print-related expenses add up to 3% of your company’s annual revenue, imagine how much your organization could save if your print solution helped you reduce the number of unused or recycled pages.

Then imagine how much you’d save if that same print solution could also eliminate print servers. But we’ll get to that.


What causes careless employee printing?

Though it’s easy to blame employees for wasteful printing habits, sometimes the reason is that they just aren’t clued into the particulars of corporate printing. Paper and toner are always supplied to them; they never see the price tag on consumables. They also overlook the fact that those costs add up to a pretty hefty chunk of change when individual waste is multiplied by every user in the organization. 

Basically, careless employee printing comes down to three things:

  1. Ignorance. Employees simply lack knowledge or awareness of actual printing costs.
  2. Resources. There just isn’t enough time or money to educate employees and give them the tools to print successfully on their own.
  3. Oversight. The organization’s current print solution offers limited visibility into the print environment, and monitoring print activity would add one more layer of complexity to print management.

And the effects of all this aren’t limited to your organization’s bottom line. It can also pose a threat to your print security.


Reducing the costs of corporate printing

One immediate action you can take is to raise awareness about print waste. Once you know its sources, then you can start to curb it.

With most print management software, identifying and quantifying waste across the company can be hard to do. PrinterLogic makes it super easy. Our print solution has an advanced reporting feature that can track print jobs and calculate their real-world costs. Those reports can even be sent to department heads automatically for routine print auditing.

Another proven way to cut costs is to reduce your overall print infrastructure—starting with eliminating print servers. You can do that by upgrading to a serverless printing infrastructure like PrinterLogic. It delivers reliable, feature-rich printing alongside centralized management from a single pane of glass. At the same time, PrinterLogic shrinks your print infrastructure footprint to almost zero.


Harden print security and trim print waste simultaneously

Curbing waste doesn’t just have to result from cost-cutting initiatives. Functions like pull printing and secure release printing have a twofold benefit of increasing the security of your print environment while keeping unwanted print jobs under control.

How exactly do they do that? Well, take PrinterLogic’s secure release printing as an example. With this feature, users have to authenticate before their print job is actually executed. That prevents printed documents—especially sensitive ones—from being forgotten or abandoned in the output tray. Which reduces costs as well as corporate risk.

And because it eliminates print servers from corporate printing, PrinterLogic also reduces the attack surface of your organization.


Print management tips to limit careless printing

When trying to steer employees away from bad printing habits, an important thing to remember is that you’ll achieve more by working with them, not against them. Here are some useful tips along those lines:

Monitor print activity through oversight and regular auditing. PrinterLogic’s centralized print management and advanced reporting makes this easy for any IT department.

Why You Should be Performing an Annual Audit on Your Print Environment

Corporate printing costs can get expensive. These costs can amount to as much as 3% of annual revenue (some estimates even go as high as 12%). It’s important to keep those costs in check. And with print security becoming an increasingly urgent priority for enterprise organizations, keeping tabs on what’s happening across your print environment.
That’s why it’s a good idea to conduct a print audit at least once per year. What is a print audit? It’s a deep and detailed dive into every aspect of your corporate printing. From the spare ink cartridges to a solitary desktop printer, everything should be considered.

What is the purpose of a print audit?

From a general standpoint, a print audit is designed to:
  • Provide greater visibility into your print infrastructure and activity
  • Help you to understand how printers are used across different locations and departments
  • Improve security and contributes to effective risk management
  • Ensure compliance requirements are being met
A print audit can also have specific benefits to your organization’s security, productivity and the bottom line. When carried out properly, a print audit:
  • Shows you exactly where you could be saving time and money
  • Reveals “unseen” corporate printing habits—both good and bad
  • Quantifies waste and environmental impact
  • Lays the groundwork for an efficient, practical print strategy moving forward
The key phrase here is carried out properly. The whole point of a print audit is to be as thorough as possible, because you get out of it what you put into it. Cutting corners won’t give you full insight into your corporate printing and will likely limit the potential gains. It might even give you a skewed picture that leads to flawed decisions. So rigorousness is something to bear in mind when it comes time to perform your print audit.

How to conduct a thorough print audit

A worthwhile annual print audit—one that provides a solid basis for guidance and future decision-making—has four general steps:
  1. Identify how each specific printer is used (ask the who, what, when, where and why).
  2. Rank printing usage by department and even down to individual employees.
  3. Calculate the total annual cost spent on printing (toner, upgrades, maintenance, etc.).
  4. Use this info plus IT input to determine weak spots in your print infrastructure.
Throughout this process, your print management solution could be your greatest asset. Or it could be your biggest obstacle.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Using print servers as your print management solution can limit visibility you need over the print environment. Getting basic information on print activity could involve manually combing through spooler event logs or creating custom PowerShell scripts. Deriving solid data on consumables usage will depend a lot on the device manufacturer and model. Translating that raw info into real-world costs won’t be easy.
And if your print management solution is conventional direct IP, performing a print audit could take forever. It will be incredibly time-consuming, if not downright impossible, to gather detailed information on every device and then extrapolate larger trends from that.
Compare those to a solution like PrinterLogic, which has built-in advanced reporting capabilities to make comprehensive print audits way more efficient. A feature like that can make all the difference.

Accelerate and add value to your print audits

PrinterLogic adopts a centrally managed, direct IP printing model. What that means is that admins can monitor and manage printer objects across the entire print environment. All from a single pane of glass.
The same serverless printing infrastructure that delivers such incredible visibility and control has another huge benefit. It allows PrinterLogic to gather core data on your corporate printing right at the source—including USB printers. With PrinterLogic as your print management solution, you can:
  • Automatically generate and distribute detailed reports on printing by department or location for a specified time period.
  • Set up PrinterLogic to calculate real-world printing costs based on printer data.
  • Capture extensive information on print jobs or printer usage and import it into your existing BI tools.
  • Track print activity down to the user and device across your entire organization with PrinterLogic’s web-based admin console.
  • Gain a clearer picture of your print environment for guiding printer consolidation, identifying security risks and implementing cost-saving initiatives.
PrinterLogic’s strengths as a print management solution have helped companies from all industries conduct more effective print audits and adopt more efficient, more economical printing habits.
For example, heavy-machinery dealer Thompson Tractor used PrinterLogic to identify users who were printing to the wrong printers (read the case study here). The financial consulting firm Wipfli LLC used it to inform cost–benefit analyses on their printer maintenance vendor (read the case study here). And healthcare organization OhioHealth used it to improve its Epic EMR printing (read the case study here).

How PrinterLogic SaaS Seamlessly Integrates with Azure Active Directory to Create a Highly Available Direct IP Cloud Printing Solution

By 2025, 80% of organizations are expected to have migrated their on-prem data centers to colocation and the cloud. Enterprise printing has proved harder to shift, though, because many cloud printing solutions fail to address a key piece of the puzzle: print management. They fall short in crucial areas like security and ease of use.

A trusted identity platform like Azure Active Directory pairs the strengths of “classic” Active Directory with the flexibility of the cloud. That’s enabled a few organizations to take their first tentative steps toward cloud printing.

But there’s room for improvement. Deploying Azure printers suffers from the same complexity that made traditional print servers so frustrating. Routine print management, such as updating drivers or setting automatic printer defaults, is as cumbersome as it’s always been. Supporting mobile users in a dynamic environment is like trying to hit a moving target.

In other words, using Azure for print management might be considered a cloud printing solution, but it keeps some unwanted legacy baggage.

Enterprise printing, welcome to the cloud

PrinterLogic SaaS is an enterprise-grade, cloud-native serverless printing solution that works seamlessly with Azure AD. That combination gives your organization the best of print management coupled with the best of user management.

By leveraging both AD and LDAP, PrinterLogic SaaS can securely authenticate and authorize your users for conventional enterprise printing as well as advanced functionality like secure release printing and mobile/BYOD printing.

And because PrinterLogic SaaS is designed for tight integration with several leading cloud-based identity providers (IdPs), it delivers the following:

  • A single sign-on (SSO) experience for end users across multiple applications
  • Simplified user creation and access management
  • Automated printer deployment to end users wherever they log in based on IdP credentials
  • Centrally managed direct IP printing from a single web-based admin console

To accomplish this, PrinterLogic SaaS makes use of SAML 2.0, which is short for Security Assertion Markup Language. SAML 2.0 is an XML-based standard used for exchanging authentication and authorization data between an IdP and a service provider.

Along with SSO, PrinterLogic SaaS also supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) via SAML 2.0. This blog post has more details on how our serverless cloud printing solution communicates with IdPs.

Once you’ve rolled out PrinterLogic SaaS in your Azure AD environment, you can then deploy and manage printer objects from a single pane of glass—even for remote workers. Admins get to enjoy effortless print management and added security. Users enjoy smooth authentication procedures and reliable direct IP printing.

How to migrate print servers into PrinterLogic SaaS

If you’re already using Azure AD, migrating to PrinterLogic SaaS couldn’t be easier. Close to 70% of PrinterLogic customers fully migrate in under a week.

It’s pretty simple:

  1. The automated migration tool lets you import your existing printers, profiles, settings and even drivers from your print servers directly into PrinterLogic SaaS. Any unmanaged direct IP printers can then be mass imported via the CSV uploader. When that’s finished, you can make any remaining granular changes in PrinterLogic’s intuitive admin console.
  2. Meanwhile, the PrinterLogic workstation client will silently convert the Windows shared printers throughout your print environment into direct IP printers. But unlike conventional direct IP printers, PrinterLogic printers can all be managed easily from the admin console. Any changes you make to printer settings or user authorizations are updated on the workstation in real time.

And that’s a wrap. You’re now experiencing robust enterprise printing and superior print management via the cloud, thanks to PrinterLogic SaaS and Azure AD.

This whitepaper looks at how PrinterLogic SaaS simplifies printing and print management in Windows Virtual Desktop. It offers a deeper dive into benefits, setup and use cases, including with Azure AD.