Print Server versus Service Client: What’s the Difference?

At PrinterLogic, we have one overarching mission: to eliminate print servers. They’re a huge pain point for print environments of every shape and size, a resource vortex that devours time, money and effort with very little to show for it. IT departments and help desk staff would have a lot less headache if print servers were a thing of the past.

And that’s the thing—they are. Print servers are a legacy technology. They’ve been superseded by solutions like ours, which unites proven direct-IP printing with modern centralized management. End users enjoy seamless, secure, highly available print capabilities from almost any device. IT admins can easily oversee and control the print environment from a single pane of glass.

PrinterLogic is so good at what it does that many folks assume it’s some kind of magical, next-gen print server. But there are fundamental differences in the design and operation of a print server and the PrinterLogic Service Client. Those important differences are what we’re going to examine here.


What is a print server?

A print server is a device that allows you to share a printer with multiple computers on a network. Its primary function is to funnel the print jobs from those computers into a single, shared print queue. Then it feeds those jobs to the printer one by one.

Simple, right? Ah, not so fast. As always, there are other factors to consider. It’s these added complexities that make print servers cumbersome, labor-intensive and unreliable.

  • Deployment: Physical print servers have to be rolled out individually and on-prem.
  • Configuration: Each print server has to be painstakingly set up for its print microenvironment (e.g., users, printers).
  • Print drivers: As the crucial software interface between clients and printers, drivers can be a major source of instability.
  • Print services: These are the printing capabilities that are made available to the computers. They can vary significantly from device to device.
  • Operating system: Whatever operating system the print server uses has to be licensed, maintained and updated.
  • Hardware: Like software, print server hardware has purchase costs, maintenance costs and upgrade costs. 


How does that compare to the PrinterLogic Service Client? 

First off, the PrinterLogic Service Client is not a physical device. It’s also not responsible for connecting computers to a shared printer or a shared printer queue. In fact, isn’t even responsible for handling PrinterLogic’s core printing functionality.

As its name suggests, the Service Client instead provides powerful print-related capabilities, or services, to end users. These services go above and beyond what print servers can offer. They include:

Because it’s a software component, PrinterLogic’s Service Client can be managed from a single web-based portal, the Admin Console, and automatically deployed to end users’ devices. And, unlike a print server, the PrinterLogic service client:

  • Does not create a single shared queue for a particular printer. This minimizes common print queue errors and increases print security.
  • Does not require any kind of server hardware, OS or manual configuration. That speeds up deployment and makes management more efficient.
  • Does not need print drivers to be manually installed. Those are managed in a central repository via the Admin Console.
  • Does not connect printers to client computers over the network. That’s done separately by the PrinterLogic instance.


The basis for a serverless printing infrastructure

Understanding how the PrinterLogic Service Client differs from print servers is also key to understanding what makes our serverless printing infrastructure possible. Basically, not being a print server is how we’re able to eliminate them completely from your print environment.

The unique interplay between the PrinterLogic Service Client and the PrinterLogic instance creates our powerful combo of distributed printing and centralized management. It’s why IT admins can easily deploy printers and apply profiles across the enterprise without resorting to scripts or GPOs. It’s also why end users can still print as usual when the WAN connection goes down—even with our cloud-based solution, PrinterLogic SaaS.

And it’s why we continue to make good on our aim to eliminate print servers. We’re helping IT professionals move beyond legacy print solutions to achieve a secure, easy-to-manage, scalable and robust print environment, one customer at a time.

Software as a Service (SaaS) and VPN Dependencies Explained

There’s a widely shared idea, especially among non-technical folks, that a virtual private network (VPN) represents the height of computing security. That might explain the popularity of all those banner ads screaming, “Protect your identity with a VPN!”

Workplaces have been guilty of this kind of thinking too. As the adoption of software as a service (SaaS) increased, many organizations implemented SaaS solutions that were VPN dependent. While these might have been SaaS in a loose sense, their reliance on VPNs offset some of the security advantages that real SaaS solutions bring to the table.

And now that the sizes of remote workforces have exploded, IT departments are quickly discovering the limits and risks of VPNs. Even before the pandemic-related rise in remote work, one article by InfoSecurity highlighted the many problems with VPNs

Without mincing words, that same article described VPNs as a “devastating point of initial compromise.” Ouch. 


What’s so bad about VPNs?

VPNs are dangerous because of the immense faith we place in them. It’s kind of like handing out keys to your house to trusted family members or friends. If those keys were to fall into the wrong hands, whether by accident or intent, a rogue actor now has the potential to do an awful lot of damage.

With VPNs, the nature of the vulnerability is similar. Whoever holds the key has unlocked the front door to the organization’s network. And the prevailing assumption is that anyone who’s using your VPN to access software as a service is legit—even if they log in from a totally new location or show odd activity patterns.

To make matters worse, it gets even harder to tell who’s sanctioned and who isn’t when a large number of users are mobile and in uncontrolled computing environments.

This has made VPNs a hot target and an attractive attack surface for cybercriminal and nation-state hacking groups since the widespread shift to remote work models. One group of hackers even exploited a cocktail of VPN and Windows bugs to attack federal as well as state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) government networks.


Avoiding VPNs by avoiding VPN-dependent SaaS

The way to sidestep all these VPN problems is to find SaaS solutions that aren’t VPN dependent. As shorthand, I’ll call these “real SaaS” solutions. This is because they don’t introduce a whole bunch of footnotes and caveats to the idea of software as a service.

Finding non-VPN-dependent alternatives is sometimes easier said than done. When it comes to SaaS print management, VPN requirements are often par for the course. If they’ve even considered a SaaS solution for their print environment at all, many organizations assume that it will call for some form of VPN access.

After all, how else would end users connect securely to printers?


PrinterLogic and the serverless printing infrastructure

PrinterLogic SaaS was designed from the outset to be a real SaaS solution—one that realizes the potential of software as a service without compromise. At its core is the serverless printing infrastructure. This is exactly what it sounds like: A robust, highly available printing platform that delivers enterprise-grade print capabilities without the need for print servers. It unites a centralized, web-based Admin Console with proven direct-IP printing, which means:

  • IT gets powerful SaaS print management from a single pane of glass. There’s rich IdP integration and no GPOs.
  • End users enjoy seamless, secure SaaS printing. Print jobs remain safely on the local network.

With PrinterLogic SaaS, you can get rid of those risky (and costly) VPNs for your remote and work-from-home employees. That eliminates potential VPN problems and other vulnerabilities while ensuring smoother, more reliable printing.

If you’re intrigued by the benefits of SaaS print management but are justifiably wary of VPNs, rest assured that software as a service and VPN dependency don’t necessarily go hand in hand. PrinterLogic is what real SaaS solutions were meant to be.

A Closer Look at SaaS Print Management

This has been a big year for organizations moving their business processes to software as a service (SaaS).

Recent corporate surveys have indicated that 80% of all businesses were already using at least one SaaS solution. By the start of 2020, close to three-quarters of organizations anticipated a full-scale shift to SaaS solutions. The events of the past year and the widespread move to remote work models have only cemented that shift.

There are plenty of advantages to software as a service over traditional solutions. Some of the biggest include:

  • Faster deployment times. Compared to some classic on-prem solutions, SaaS is often easier to roll out enterprise-wide. Large-scale implementations no longer take weeks or even months. With SaaS, they can be done in a matter of days or just hours.
  • An optimized user experience. The flexibility of SaaS solutions allows for more tailored feature sets and less bloat. IT can often make use of streamlined management dashboards to give end users the precise functionality they need.
  • Continuous updates. Almost by design, SaaS is constantly improving. Unlike traditional software update mechanisms, SaaS vendors can seamlessly push out bug fixes, security updates and new features as soon as they’re ready.

And, of course, all of these benefits have an impact on an organization’s bottom line. How? Because they result in shorter time to benefit, increased versatility and more sustained productivity.


What about SaaS for enterprise printing?

SaaS seems like an obvious model for a lot of solutions. CRM software, for instance. But many organizations still tend to think of enterprise printing as a deeply “legacy” type of infrastructure. The assumption is that it doesn’t translate well to the software-as-a-service model.

Au contraire. The enterprise print environment stands to gain the most from serverless printing and SaaS print management.

For starters, adopting a SaaS solution like PrinterLogic nets your organization all the benefits of software as a service. That means things like rapid deployment, the ongoing introduction of cutting-edge features, incredible scalability and lower upfront costs.

PrinterLogic SaaS maximizes those benefits with a cloud-style approach to print management.

Not to be confused with basic cloud printing, cloud print management is a way for IT to oversee and control the entire print environment from anywhere. PrinterLogic centers around a web-based Admin Console that allows for powerful yet user-friendly management of printer objects and print capabilities.


Revolutionizing the traditional print environment

Like the best software as a service, PrinterLogic SaaS integrates seamlessly with existing technologies. It works with any network printer—even legacy models. It deploys right alongside popular VDI solutions like Citrix, VMware and IGEL, enhancing their native print capabilities. It supports native print drivers for full compatibility. And it boasts some sought-after features:

Above all, PrinterLogic SaaS puts a premium on security. Its cloud print management is built on a direct-IP printing platform that actually keeps print jobs safely on the LAN. Client devices create one-to-one connections with local printers, so print jobs themselves aren’t routed through the cloud.

PrinterLogic also supports robust user authentication through popular cloud-based identity providers (IdPs) like Azure AD and Okta. And unlike some SaaS solutions, PrinterLogic doesn’t force end users to wrestle with a VPN


SaaS print management is the basis for future-proofing

Businesses around the world have embraced software as a service because of its long-term agility and cost-effectiveness.

With the right SaaS print-management solution, you give your print environment the functionality and scalability it needs to support the evolving workplace. So be sure not to overlook it during your digital transformation. It’s key to ensuring that your enterprise printing keeps pace with the rapid rate of change.

Planning for the Future: What to Consider When Creating Your IT Department Budget

Like any budgeting process, creating your IT budget involves walking a tightrope. Despite the constant pressure to reduce IT costs, it’s equally vital to ensure that priority areas get the funding they need.

This year, managing your IT budget for success while also cutting costs is especially challenging. According to a Spiceworks Ziff Davis report on the state of IT, 80% of businesses are expecting their IT budgets to remain steady—or even grow—in the coming year.

Lack of certainty plays a role in that. Workplace trends are shifting rapidly in response to global events. As a result, funding is being increasingly channeled toward versatile software and cloud solutions. The same Spiceworks Ziff Davis report noted that hosted and cloud services are going to see higher allocations in 2021 IT budgets.

And that trend will likely continue over the long term. IDC, a leading provider of market intelligence, is predicting that the number of mobile workers will expand to 93.5 million in the United States in 2024. Those mobile and remote workers will need to be supported by cloud services and flexible business processes.

With that in mind, how can you achieve IT spending reductions without compromising security or sacrificing productivity? Here are four important things to consider.


Consolidate infrastructure

Shrinking your hardware footprint is one of the most effective ways to significantly reduce IT spending. That might explain why the Spiceworks Ziff Davis survey found that hardware budgeting dropped 4% between 2019 and 2021.

By carefully choosing to cut hardware expenses, you can redirect those resources toward cloud services and SaaS platforms. Those more agile solutions enhance productivity and mobility, which in turn boost long-term ROI. So take a close look at emerging solutions that can replace legacy hardware. For instance, serverless printing can reduce IT costs by eliminating physical print servers along with the resources that go into operating and administering them.


Optimize the help desk

Reducing infrastructure doesn’t just mean less hardware or fewer software licenses to maintain. It can also lower the number of help-desk calls and alleviate the burden on IT support staff.

In the past, many IT departments dealt with complex environments and use cases by just adding more technology to the mix. However, that only led to more complexity over time. Front-line support staff like the help desk ended up bearing the brunt of those extra moving parts.

That’s why simplifying your IT environment does more than trim excess fat. It also enables your help desk to operate more efficiently, saving time and money enterprise-wide.


Empower your end users

Another way to lift some weight from IT’s shoulders—and likewise cut costs—is by empowering end users with safe, intuitive solutions. When they’re able to carry out tasks with full confidence (and zero hand-holding), they don’t need to make constant requests for support. That eases the demand on IT service levels and makes end users more productive at the same time.

A great example of this dual benefit is self-service printing. If employees can easily and securely install nearby printers on their own, they rely much less on IT to solve their problems. The help desk and IT support staff can instead refocus on much more important issues. And end users can too.


Don’t skimp on security

In the United States, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 is $8.6 million. But years of misguided cost optimization have taken their toll on security and threat preparedness. A 2018 Quocirca survey found that only 30% of all the respondents were fully confident that their print infrastructure was hardened against internal and external threats.

The significant cost of risk is something you need to keep in mind when managing your IT budget—and more specifically, when looking for ways to cut expenses. Trying to save a little money upfront can lead to big, expensive headaches down the road. Invest in solutions that truly walk the walk and are secure by design.


Get your IT budget on the right track with PrinterLogic

PrinterLogic’s serverless printing infrastructure addresses all of those considerations in a single future-proof solution.

  • Both PrinterLogic SaaS and the PrinterLogic Virtual Appliance reduce expensive legacy print infrastructure by eliminating print servers.
  • PrinterLogic drastically reduces help-desk calls, with over half of surveyed PrinterLogic customers reporting declines of 50% or more.
  • By resolving the biggest pain points in enterprise printing, PrinterLogic makes life easier on end users and admins alike.
  • And, just as importantly, PrinterLogic’s combination of direct-IP printing with centralized administration is inherently secure.

Together, advantages like these can significantly reduce IT costs while boosting ROI through gains in security and productivity.