Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) is a public post-secondary educational institution. Founded in 1972, it is generally ranked as the fourth-largest higher-educational institution in the state, serving around 19,000 students and employing well over 140 full-time professors and 500 adjunct professors. Its student base is broad and varied, but most are working to obtain an associate degree, transfer their completed course work to a four-year university, or to acquire vocational skills.
OCCC's primary campus in Oklahoma City totals more than one million square feet. It also operates three remote sites that serve the community as well as the core higher-educational mission of the institution. Although most of the college's IT resources are centralized within the main-campus complex, it does maintain an IT presence—namely, infrastructure, printers and workstations—in the offsite locations as well.
In terms of its printer environment, OCCC oversees close to 350 physical printers. Until recently, the college's IT staff had used three print servers to facilitate deployment and printing operations, but they were growing increasingly dissatisfied with the solution.
Rob Greggs, Director of IT Infrastructure at OCCC, came across PrinterLogic at a tradeshow.
"What caught my eye was the idea of getting rid of my print servers," he says. "It was something that I had looked at, thought about, considered and loved the idea of, but I never thought I'd find a solution that would automate print management the way that we wanted to. I knew that we could streamline deployment with scripts and policies, and we were doing that, but to really get rid of that dependency, that link in the chain, really appealed to me.”
With the seed planted, he began to envision a print environment that would introduce greater simplicity, reduce upfront as well as ongoing costs, and increase both transparency and ease of use for the end users across the entire campus.
"We looked at two or three other managed print software solutions, and while we found that there were software packages available that were built around print management and reducing costs, they didn't really reduce complexity in terms of my administrative overhead. They actually increased it by several-fold. In some cases, they required specialized agents to communicate with backend servers in order for anything to be printed—not to mention a lot of user interaction."
"PrinterLogic delivered the most in terms of value, ease of administration, and reduction of soft cost overhead."
"We're a community college—the very nature of what we do requires agile and dynamic responses that can allow us to adapt to the educational needs of our students," says Greggs. "This means that we have to have agility when it comes to the way that we deliver content in our courses, what we're going to use to deliver that content, what type of media that content is delivered on. And part of that is just being flexible."
“For us, the number one goal was simplicity. PrinterLogic gave us that.”
Operating within its preferred virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment, OCCC needed a way to maximize that flexibility while actually shrinking the amount of time that was required to make those rapid, dynamic changes.
Now that PrinterLogic is installed, OCCC can easily assign printers to floating pools of non-persistent desktops in its virtual desktop environment. That means no more scripting according to Active Directory entitlements or having to arrange those floating pools according to available printing resources.
"PrinterLogic allows us to integrate with the endpoints utilized in our VDI environment and see the name of the physical hardware that the user is logged into," says Greggs. "We can assign printers based on that physical endpoint name. If we need to change something or add a user, it's as simple as adding or removing a person or an endpoint from a security group."
"For us, the number one goal was simplicity. PrinterLogic gave us that. We flattened the architecture and all the moving parts necessary to control what happens when a user clicks 'Print' on their desktop and the job goes over the network to a printer. We've also reduced administrative overhead in terms of the simplicity of changes to existing printers."
For years, the IT team at OCCC had dreamed of reducing or even eliminating the print environment's reliance on print servers. They were receiving anywhere between 10 to 15 printer-related support calls per week, many from issues and incompatibilities that were caused by the college's three print servers.
"The PrinterLogic story was compelling," says Greggs. "The idea that I would be able to be free of my print servers, eliminate that dependency in the chain, but still have total control over the devices—such as who can print, what driver they use, all of that information, in addition to intelligence about how many pages are being printed, by which users or which department—was a great value-add."
By deploying PrinterLogic in a "measured way," OCCC was able realize that longtime goal of eliminating print servers and begin migrating its fleet of 350 physical printers away from those costly and inefficient devices. All three print servers have been decommissioned. As they suspected, this has resulted in a corresponding decrease in support tickets. Today they receive only a couple of printer-related tickets per week.
Thanks to PrinterLogic's flexibility, they were able to implement additional web-based AD administration software that works with PrinterLogic in a seamless and complementary way to enhance printer provisioning. It's so simple, in fact, that end users can assume some degree of provisioning.
"In the near future, our users will be able to manage some of their own security groups, so we can delegate control of printer provisioning security groups in AD to a division head or a department head or their assistant. That individual can then add or remove people from a security group," says Greggs. "Within 30 minutes they will have the printer installed and ready to go without a system administrator ever touching a keyboard. This is all possible because of PrinterLogic."
When students or instructors went to print, they were frequently confronted with pop-up messages and dialog boxes. These were supposed to augment the available printing options, yet they had the opposite and unintended effect of frustrating end users. Greggs and his staff sympathized with the less-than-optimal experience, but their ability to remedy it was limited before deploying PrinterLogic.
"We wanted to make all of our printing and finishing options far more transparent to the end user," he says. "We wanted to simplify things for our users rather than add layers of management, administration, complexity and cost allocation."
"The way PrinterLogic polls the server for settings and dynamically pulls down and applies settings based on what my systems administrator has specified is a dream come true," Greggs says. "It doesn't even require a logon/logoff event. Having a system like that does not require my users to do anything. We can just send them an e-mail and say, 'Your printer settings have been updated. You now have the ability to staple.' We were able to do all of that with automation in the background with PrinterLogic."
Along with the self-service provisioning capabilities that PrinterLogic enabled, this kind of automation has had a twofold—and somewhat paradoxical—beneficial effect. Users now have more control over their own print environment and are better informed about relevant changes, but at the same time they aren't confronted with processes that are better left to the background.
"With PrinterLogic, the administration staff can immediately replace drivers, change an IP, modify the device type or the options that are available to the end user, and the end user doesn't really have to do anything," says Greggs.
Even in the first few months since deployment, Greggs says that PrinterLogic has been able to provide OCCC with the hat trick of "efficiency, effectiveness and simplicity" the IT team was looking for.
“There has been a dramatic reduction on two fronts in terms of print management control. There's been a reduction in the number of calls we've received or tickets that end up in my systems administration queue related to printing. There's also been a dramatic reduction in time-to-resolution for those tickets. So while we see far fewer tickets than we ever have before, the tickets that we do see are able to be resolved in a matter of minutes," he says.
"Print management was a headache for our systems administration staff until we invested in PrinterLogic. We're constantly adding, moving, changing, and rearranging printers. Being able to quickly adapt to those situations that demand we use our limited resources in areas that have the greatest impact is something that PrinterLogic helped us to do. It allowed us to move the ball further down the field."