Anyone working in IT will tell you there are two foolproof ways to make your end users angry. The first is if the internet connection is down. The second is if they can't get a document to print. Either is guaranteed to kick off a stream of support calls.
Standardizing your IT environment helps prevent these situations for end users. For MSPs, IT standardization isn't only possible in complex and varied environments—it's also hugely beneficial.
Here at Strata IT, we create as much uniformity as we can for our customers when it comes to hardware and software—everything from the networking stack to our preferred virtualization solution. That’s the key to putting our company philosophy of Total IT into practice. By managing remotely, and solving problems quickly, it minimizes downtime and makes us more efficient and cost-effective as an MSP.
Taking the headache out of RDS printing
That said, printing can feel like a whole different ball game. As hard as we worked to standardize the IT environment for one particular healthcare customer, we weren’t able to completely reign in their print-management problems. There was always something—like employees changing offices, or requesting different printer settings.
The biggest challenge was when users roamed to different locations in their distributed environment. Our Azure-hosted remote desktop service (RDS) solution just wasn’t delivering the right printers—where and when they needed them.
To put it in perspective, this customer had only 40 printers, but we were getting up to 100 print-related tickets per month because of failed deployments and incorrect default settings.
Then a fellow IT expert mentioned PrinterLogic to us. He was from a large enterprise company with thousands of employees. PrinterLogic had succeeded in eliminating their print servers as well as solving their deployment and driver problems.
If it worked for them, we thought, maybe we should give it a try.
We implemented PrinterLogic for our healthcare customer, and we found that it did exactly what it promised. Unlike so many other software solutions, when PrinterLogic says something is "seamless," like Active Directory integration, it really was seamless.
After setting up subnet-based deployments, we saw a 50 percent drop in print-related support tickets almost overnight.
Ultimately, we ended up using PrinterLogic's terminal service deployment capability to configure dynamic, automatic printer deployments based on client IP-address ranges. All those roaming users that used to struggle with printing headaches were suddenly getting all the right printers—even if they retained the same terminal-server session as they moved from location to location during the day.
Six months after implementing PrinterLogic, we were seeing about five print-related tickets per month, and most of those were about printer hardware issues like a bad fuser. It was phenomenal.
A scalable, versatile print-management solution
We asked ourselves: “If PrinterLogic performed so well, in an environment that had been so problematic, why couldn't it do the same in other challenging situations?” For experienced IT veterans, the answer was a no-brainer. And, as an MSP, it seemed crazy not to roll out PrinterLogic to a wider set of clients.
After all, PrinterLogic provided a vastly improved printing experience for our customers—and it led to dramatic reductions in time and energy managing printers on our end. What’s more, it helped us build out the consistency we strive for.
Now we’re using a single print-management solution for all of our customers on a given service tier.
PrinterLogic is so good at what it does, so packed with useful print-management features like print auditing and SNMP monitoring, that having it as part of our standard platform is a unique selling point for us as an MSP: “Outsource your IT needs to Strata Information Technology, and your chronic printing problems will vanish—with a little help from PrinterLogic, of course.”
In the case of an industrial manufacturing firm that was struggling with print-related problems, PrinterLogic helped us seal the deal. Printing isn’t even a concern for them anymore.
That's something we occasionally remind our clients—both current and prospective—to not take a solution like this for granted. When software is doing its job, there's a tendency to forget what life was like before. But most of them remember what living without PrinterLogic looked like; no one wants to turn back the clock and revisit the days of failed print jobs, printer downtime and constant help-desk calls.
PrinterLogic has changed how we approach print management as an MSP, and it's turned printing into a non-issue for our customers.
Keith Stark is CEO of Strata IT, a California-based firm that provides managed IT services for small to medium-sized organizations. His firm helps these businesses align their IT strategies to their company’s vision—creating stable, yet flexible, environments that help improve decision-making. Keith has 25 years’ experience designing systems around corporate goals, designing IT infrastructure, and helping organizations manage deployment. His specialties include designing large-scale automation for data flow and analysis. He has worked with large research institutions to provide them with data-flow tools to study seismicity in Southern California and around the world.