So, your organization has reached a point where it's time to deploy another—or maybe your first-ever—print server. There are good ways to deploy print servers, and there are not-so-good ways to deploy print servers. And there are alternatives to print servers that you might not have considered yet. This post aims to provide you with some recommended print server deployment strategies and one alternative solution that can help you steer clear of the pitfalls.
Before you start down any path, you'll want to think about your preferred topology. Will you have a single centralized network print server or will you have localized print servers distributed across your organization?
- Among other benefits, localized print servers allow you to keep the number of clients per server low. Because print server performance can suffer as the number of connected clients increases, fewer clients on more print servers sounds like a wise idea. But increasing the number of print servers also complicates print management, because the drivers, print queues, software and user pool need to be maintained across each of them. That drives up costs as well. When you upgrade, you'll usually need to rely on a printer server migration tool (provided a suitable one is available) to bring every single print server up to date.
- A centralized print server consolidates your print management infrastructure in one place. That makes print management more convenient, but it also introduces two potentially serious problems. The first is WAN vulnerability, as the WAN connection will be the only link between the network print server and remote locations. Should the WAN be interrupted, so will print activity for the affected location. The second issue is that a centralized print server creates a single point of failure. To guard against this, expensive redundancy measures are needed, although this will also create additional work for the print management team.
Understanding the strengths and drawbacks of those two basic topologies will help you determine how to best structure your current print server deployment so as to build a solid foundation for future upgrades and deployments. Because print servers in any configuration have limits to their scalability, whichever architecture you choose will have an impact on how your IT environment expands and evolves in the coming years.
Starting as you mean to go on is an equally good mantra when setting up your organization’s network print server. Clutter is the enemy, and less is more (or at least more manageable). Keep drivers to an absolute minimum, as too many drivers can be resource-intensive and cause print spooler problems. You’ll also want to test initial drivers thoroughly before deploying them. Rogue drivers are notorious for crashing print spoolers. If possible, enabling driver isolation and using up-to-date (v4) drivers can help.
Lastly, you'll need to look at your current as well as your future IT environment with a wide-angle lens. Does your organization have a mix of clients running different operating systems? Are you planning to transition to mobile or Chromebook-type clients? Is secure printing important to your organization? Your answers to those questions will determine what shape your print server deployment takes and whether or not you'll need to augment that infrastructure with additional third-party solutions.
With all that in mind, perhaps the most fundamental step in print server deployment is asking yourself whether you really need one at all. PrinterLogic's next-generation print management solution does everything you demand of print servers—but without the WAN vulnerabilities, the sprawling infrastructure, the limits to scalability and the susceptibility to rogue drivers. It allows you to manage your entire print environment, no matter how distributed, from a single pane of glass. Better still, you can deliver printers to users without relying on GPOs or scripts and easily implement advanced functionality like Mobile Printing.
Already have a network print server (or several) deployed in your organization? PrinterLogic makes the transition to powerful, centrally managed direct IP printing quick and easy. It features a handy printer server migration tool that imports all your printers, drivers and profiles, so you can seamlessly roll out our user-friendly, cost-effective, low-footprint solution and eliminate your print servers—and all their attendant cost and hassle—in record time.
Done properly, print server deployment is no small task. It takes a lot of time and planning, and yet even if you make all the right moves, your organization is still stuck with their inherent limitations. Which is why the best strategy for print server deployment is to deploy PrinterLogic instead.
With nearly 20 years of experience in delivering market leading IT solutions to Fortune 500 companies, Devin prides himself on driving simplicity into products that solve extremely complex IT problems. For years he has been focused on the end-user computing devices and delivering technology that provides valuable services to the end-user which enable them to be their most productive self. As Vice President of Product Management at PrinterLogic, he focuses on increasing the value customers get from the company's Enterprise Printer Management solution.