Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments—usually in the form of solutions from VMware or Citrix—are used by thousands of organizations across all sectors on account of their simplicity and flexibility. Well, that is, except when it comes to VDI printing. As many IT veterans can attest, printing problems come with the territory when using these virtual solutions.
The underlying reasons for these VDI printing problems have a lot to do with the VDI architecture itself. This is most notable when dealing with print drivers, because drivers can be installed in one of several ways in VDI printing environments—yet none of these methods is entirely without its shortcomings. In day to day use, these shortcomings can lead to improper print driver installations that cause myriad problems such as failed print jobs, inability to print, printing to the wrong printer, spooler crashes and more.
So how does print driver installation go off the rails? That's best answered by looking in a bit more detail at how print driver installation is carried out in VDI printing environments.
Golden image installation: In this scenario, the print drivers for every printer in use within an organization are installed on the golden images that are the basis for the thin or zero clients in the VDI environment. This is acceptable for fairly fixed and static print environments, but large or dynamic organizations tend to shy away from this method because one change or update, however minor, requires a complete reinstallation of those print drivers on the golden images. It's not hard to see how this cumbersome, space-hungry method can result in driver mix-ups and cause VDI printing issues for large numbers of users if one thing is amiss.
End-user installation: Instead of installing every single driver for every single printer on the golden image, the print drivers that a user will need (and usually only those drivers) are installed in the end user's dedicated account. This is more customized in some respects, but it results in two potential VDI printing problems. The first is bloat. With individual printer drivers replicated across multiple accounts, this method can easily begin taking up vast amounts of storage. The second is that end users can only access a limited pool of pre-determined drivers, so their VDI printing will be complicated should they move to new or unexpected locations.
Session installation: By installing the print drivers fresh with each new session, this method sidesteps the drawbacks of the previous two methods by reducing storage overhead and making it better suited for dynamic environments. Unfortunately, it also resets end users' printer profile settings by default and often requires a more complex initiation process that prolongs logon times and doesn't always deliver the correct drivers. Essentially, it exchanges one set of VDI printing issues for another.
Because none of these driver installation methods is ideal, it's not uncommon for organizations to go out looking for VDI printing solutions that will correct (or at least mitigate) some of the drawbacks of VDI printing. What they soon discover is that many VDI printing solutions are stopgaps. Either these solutions add another software layer—another layer to manage, another layer to negotiate—on top of an already complex VDI printing environment, or they create a parallel VDI printing framework that forces end users and admins to work within a new set of rules and VDI printing methodologies.
PrinterLogic's on-premises enterprise print management solution is unique among VDI printing solutions because it seamlessly integrates with virtual environments like Citrix and VMware and complements their VDI printing paradigm by leveraging centralized administration, precise yet effortless deployment without the need for group policy objects (GPOs) and scripts, and a self-service portal that enables end users to easily identify and install printers themselves—all of which work to address the root causes of improper driver installation. And not only can PrinterLogic eliminate VDI printing issues that stem from poor driver management and deployment, it can even help your organization eliminate printer servers too. However you ultimately choose to implement it, PrinterLogic brings unprecedented ease and oversight to VDI printing.
Before becoming PrinterLogic's Technical Product Manager, Chris spent more than four years as a Technical Product Engineer, Systems Engineer, and Sales Engineer—working side by side with IT professionals to eliminate print servers from their environment. He has a B.S. degree in Information Technology and loves learning about all of the new and innovating solutions that continue to revolutionize the IT industry.