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Are There Opportunities for Print Server Consolidation in Your Organization?

Posted by Devin Anderson

Here’s a thought exercise. Picture your organization’s IT infrastructure. All of it: the servers, the workstations, the mobile devices, the routers, the printers, the switches, down to every last device, however tiny or obscure.

Now picture your organization’s print infrastructure. What does that look like in terms of your overall IT infrastructure? What is the proportion of print relative to the whole? Where does overlap exist, and where is there opportunity for consolidation? More specifically, can you easily spot opportunity for print server consolidation?

For many organizations, especially distributed ones, print server consolidation is often thought of in terms of the elimination of remote or satellite print servers in favor of one centralized print server. This seems like a great way to reduce infrastructure easily and quickly, but it has several fundamental drawbacks. The first and most important shortcoming of this method of print server consolidation is that it creates a single point of failure in the print infrastructure. When the central print server hangs, crashes or fails—and that’s a matter of when not if—it will take down printing for the entire organization until it can be brought back online. That downtime could last minutes or it could last hours. To prepare for this, the obvious solution is redundancy—and multi-server redundancy at that. But the irony is that these redundancy measures run counter to the primary aim of print server consolidation!

Common approaches to print server consolidation have other drawbacks. Not as severe, maybe, but they can still jeopardize productivity. In distributed environments, for example, because print traffic has to travel from remote sites to the central server and back, it can consume the finite WAN bandwidth and degrade the performance of other Internet-reliant services like email, VoIP telephony, and even web browsing. Of course, print servers have much more inherent failings, too, such as their susceptibility to driver issues, their temperamental print spoolers, and their reliance on complex group policy objects (GPOs) and scripting to deploy printers with any accuracy.

At some point, you might have already weighed all these factors and decided that print server consolidation isn’t possible for your organization because of them. But when contemplating print infrastructure consolidation in general and print server consolidation specifically, one solution you might not have considered is PrinterLogic. Our print management solution actually makes it possible to eliminate print servers entirely—no matter how large, diverse or distributed your organization happens to be.

PrinterLogic surpasses mere print server consolidation because it replaces your entire print backbone with a single instance of our next-generation print management software. Even in the rare event of a server outage, your entire user base can keep printing as usual with no loss of core functionality. PrinterLogic is able to do this by leveraging the strengths of direct IP printing, long regarded as the most reliable form of print connectivity. Yet our solution also features the powerful, centralized print management that is often missing from direct IP environments – and print server environments, too, for that matter.

This way, you get the reliability of direct IP printing but an unprecedented ease of management that allows you to deploy printers with precision (and without relying on GPOs or scripts), to effortlessly change settings for select printers or even the entire printer fleet from a single pane of glass, to deploy and update drivers without fear of conflicts, and to empower your end users to identify and install nearby printers themselves with a single click. Even the most flawless and streamlined print server consolidation initiative can’t introduce features like that.

Opportunities for print server consolidation likely exist in your organization. But with PrinterLogic, you have an opportunity to go beyond print server consolidation by eliminating your print servers altogether and replacing them with a more feature-rich, robust, scalable and cost-effective print management solution.