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Problems with Centralized Print Servers

Posted by Devin Anderson on March 1st, 2017

When organizations are looking to reduce their infrastructure and simplify their print environments, one of the most common pieces of advice they're bound to get is consolidate – which, in IT terms, means making one device do the work previously handled by multiple devices. In traditional print environments that continue to rely on print servers, the resulting process of consolidation usually involves eliminating print servers in remote locations and centralizing their print servers at a primary location instead.

In principle, this is an incredibly effective way of shrinking print infrastructure. Now a company with, say, remote offices in Miami, New York and London can make use of one or more centralized print servers at its main location in Los Angeles. By eliminating its remote print servers, the company has saved itself ongoing costs of procurement, operation and maintenance at those branches, and its on-site IT team is able to carry out print server management for the entire enterprise at a single location. A much smaller support staff can remain at the various branches to service the printers themselves.

Unfortunately, there are real problems with centralized print servers, problems that tend to get overlooked in the excitement over cost-cutting and simplification of print server management. Let's take a look at two of the most glaring issues below:

  • Single points of failure. When print servers are distributed throughout an organization's remote sites, crashing print servers and the loss of printing are more localized. In a scenario with centralized print servers, the entire organization's ability to print depends on the hardware at one location. Take our hypothetical company above: Printing in Miami, New York and London stops because Los Angeles has technical difficulties — and with print servers, crashes are a matter of when, not if. It sounds absurd, but therein lies the huge drawback of centralized print servers.

    Of course, some of that risk can be offset by redundancy. But best practices call for two failsafe backup print servers in mission-critical environments. And those servers have to be purchased, operated and maintained alongside the primary print servers. Those redundancy costs can offset a considerable amount of the savings derived from consolidation.

  • WAN vulnerabilities. Remote locations are connected to centralized print servers by the thinnest of threads: the WAN link. If the WAN connection fails for whatever reason at the remote location, printing comes to a standstill. And if the same thing happens at the central location, printing at all the remote locations is affected.

    Furthermore, printing isn't the only data-intensive activity that requires WAN access. Even tiny organizations transfer vast amounts of information over their WAN connection, which can only handle finite amounts of data. During periods of high activity, print job data will be slowed as it travels to the centralized print servers and back to the local printer (usually several megabytes larger after rendering). It can even become corrupted on this inefficient round-trip journey.

But take heart. Consolidation without compromise is possible. PrinterLogic's next-generation enterprise print management solution delivers all the benefits of centralized print server management and reduced infrastructure — without the print servers!

That's because PrinterLogic leverages proven direct IP printing to create local connections between client devices and printers. So even in the unlikely event of a central server outage, end users can keep printing as usual with no loss of core functionality. That removes the risk of a single point of failure that is common with centralized print servers. Better still, PrinterLogic keeps print job traffic between local devices, minimizing WAN traffic. And thanks to PrinterLogic's acclaimed centralized management console, admins can deploy, edit and remove printers anywhere in the organization from a single pane of glass.

If you're looking to consolidate, look no further. PrinterLogic will minimize your print infrastructure footprint while enhancing the stability and functionality of your print environment.

Devin Anderson
Devin Anderson
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.

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