Posted by Devin Anderson
Why would anyone want to eliminate enterprise print servers? After all, don’t they have a purpose?
It’s true—they do. For a lot of organizations, enterprise print servers represent the first step in the growth of their print environment. A small office of five, ten or even twenty users with minimal printing demands can usually get by with one or two network printers and no dedicated print management solution. But as soon as that office expands in size or to another location, it becomes necessary to start controlling that print traffic. Think of it like going from a 4-way stop to a traffic light.
Where printing is concerned, an enterprise print server functions as that traffic light. A print server takes print jobs from workstations and enters them into a single queue, which frees the workstations from having to allocate any computing power needed to monitor and maintain the queue themselves. In that queue, print jobs can be automatically prioritized according to user and file type. And if a print job gets stuck, the system administrator can simply delete the problematic item from the queue so other users can carry on printing.
Enterprise print servers can also help with printer and driver deployment. Instead of installing a driver on every single workstation, admins can install the standard driver for every relevant printer on the print server. Those drivers can then be automatically installed on users’ workstations as needed. Print servers can deploy certain printers to specific users based on the predetermined criteria laid out in group policy objects (GPOs) or scripts.
These are all very useful functions. The problem is that enterprise print servers work best the more specialized they are, so each new department or location requires its own dedicated print server and, ideally, a homogenous print environment that consists of one kind of workstation and one kind of printer. As soon as any anomalies enter the mix—even in the form of a single machine—there can be driver conflicts and complicated deployment protocols. Print servers also take a very fragmented, top-down approach to print management, meaning that they function more like a rigid gatekeeper toward end users than an enterprise-wide printing tool to benefit them.
Worse, enterprise print servers create single points of failure. The driver conflict that might emerge because one workstation requires a manufacturer-specific driver and another one uses the universal printer driver can cause print server slowness that affects every end user who relies on it. Conflicts and other issues can even cause print servers to crash outright, bringing printing to a halt for that department or location. The only solution for that is redundancy, which means another print server. At the same time, each new print server comes with costs: the initial outlay for software and hardware, followed by maintenance, upgrade and replacement.
With all these costs and limitations, enterprise print servers quickly become a hindrance to print management rather than a facilitator of it. Print server elimination is the obvious answer, yet many organizations don’t believe it’s possible.
The good news is that you can eliminate print servers, and PrinterLogic allows you to do it. PrinterLogic replaces all the functionality of print servers while introducing incredibly powerful and scalable features such as centralized administration, end-user self-installation and streamlined deployment—which solve the biggest shortcomings of enterprise print servers and give your enterprise the mobility and flexibility it needs to operate efficiently and grow. This page has a comprehensive breakdown of all the cost- and time-saving benefits of print server elimination through PrinterLogic.