It's no secret that managing print servers is never high on the list of things IT people want to do. Print servers are renowned—infamous, you could say—for being finicky, unstable and high maintenance. They frequently require a lot of work (and workarounds) just to provision printers and maintain basic printing functionality.
Because every print environment is different, the optimal approach to print server management can vary widely for each organization. Yet there are some general rules of thumb that might be considered best practices when it comes to managing print servers and keeping printing running as smoothly as possible. Below we'll also consider how PrinterLogic's next-generation print management solution stacks up against print servers.
Standardize your hardware: Even with small printer fleets, a mix of manufacturers and models can make the job of print server management exponentially more difficult. This is because print servers crave homogeneity. A multitude of drivers for different devices can lead to serious conflicts that can prevent a workstation from printing – or worse still, crash the print server and bring printing to a halt. A huge driver repository is also tough to manage using print servers' limited tools.
The trouble is, homogeneity is hard to come by. Organizations' printer fleets naturally become varied over time as some old devices are phased out and new ones are acquired as necessary. Homogeneity can also get expensive because it requires devices to be retired en masse in regular cycles. Improved print server management comes at the expense (quite literally) of cost-effective printer fleets.
Implement the right infrastructure: Print servers give you two broad implementation choices: centralize or distribute. When you consolidate your print infrastructure in one central print server, you reduce the amount of hardware you're purchasing, managing and operating. But you also expose your print environment to a single point of failure, which means printing stops when that print server crashes, hangs, or is knocked offline for any reason. If your organization has multiple locations, it also means that the WAN connections will be heavily taxed by printing traffic.
Should you choose to distribute your print infrastructure via multiple print servers, it might increase localized print availability but it will increase infrastructure costs and make managing print servers less efficient. That's the unfortunate tradeoff.
Weigh your deployment options: Do you use scripts or group policy objects (GPOs) to provision your printers? These tend to be the default deployment methods but they entail compromises. GPOs can be useful in most situations, although anomalies and outliers that exist outside of GPOs' strict hierarchy can lead to complications. This isn't helped by the limited print server management provisioning options. Scripts are more customizable and can be tailored to niche instances, yet they can slow down logon times and need to be custom coded for each new instance.
PrinterLogic eliminates the need for print server management best practices because it eliminates the need for print servers and all their flaws. It's a comprehensive enterprise print management solution that scales to infinite size despite having only minimal infrastructure requirements. And it provides enhanced printing functionality, powerful print management tools and centralized administration even in distributed environments. It's robust toward driver conflicts and brings unprecedented ease and stability in heterogeneous print environments. You can even carry out targeted printer deployments without resorting to GPOs and scripts.
It's time for print management to shed its stigma and become the job that your IT staff loves. But for that to happen, it has to involve far less print server management and much more effortless printer deployment, printing availability, and straightforward printer and driver management. With PrinterLogic, you can stop managing print servers and start managing your print environment.
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.