So, your organization has reached a point where it’s time to deploy another—or maybe your first ever—print server. Just like every other hardware, there’s a good way and a not-so-good way to deploy them. And there are alternatives to print servers that you might not have considered yet.
Before you start down any path, you’ll want to think about your preferred topology.
Will you have a single centralized network print server or will you have localized print servers distributed across your organization?
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each one.
The Good and Bad of Centralized Print Servers
A centralized print server consolidates your print management infrastructure in one place. That makes print management more convenient, but it also introduces two potentially serious problems. The first is WAN vulnerability, as the WAN connection will be the only link between the network print server and remote locations. Should the WAN be interrupted, so will print activity for the affected location.
The second issue is that a centralized print server creates a single point of failure. To guard against this, expensive redundancy measures are needed, although this will also create additional work for the print management team.
The Good and Bad of Localized Print Servers
Localized print servers allow you to keep the number of clients per server low. Because print server performance can suffer as the number of connected clients increases, fewer clients on more print servers sounds like a wise idea.
However, increasing the number of print servers also complicates print management because the printer drivers, print queues, software, and user pool need to be maintained across each of them which drives up costs. When you upgrade, you’ll usually need to rely on a print server migration tool (provided a suitable one is available) to bring every single print server up to date.
Tips for Choosing the Best Print Server Model
Understanding the strengths and drawbacks of those two basic topologies will help you determine how to best structure your current print server deployment to build a solid foundation for future upgrades and deployments. Because print servers in any configuration have limits to their scalability, whichever architecture you choose will have an impact on how your IT environment expands and evolves in the coming years.
Starting as you mean to go on is an equally good mantra when setting up your organization’s network print server. Here are a few friendly pieces of advice to consider:
- Clutter is the enemy, and less is more (or at least more manageable).
- Keep drivers to an absolute minimum, as too many drivers can be resource-intensive and cause print spooler problems.
- Test initial drivers thoroughly before deploying them. Rogue drivers are notorious for crashing print spoolers.
- Enable driver isolation and use up-to-date (v4) drivers to minimize the possibility of spooler crashes.
Lastly, you’ll need to look at your current as well as your future IT environment with a wide-angle lens. Does your organization have a mix of clients running different operating systems? Are you planning to transition to mobile or Chromebook-type clients? Is secure printing important to your organization?
Your answers to those questions will determine what shape your print server deployment takes and whether or not you’ll need to augment that infrastructure with additional third-party solutions.
Do you really need a print server to print?
With all that in mind, perhaps the most fundamental step in print server deployment is asking yourself whether you really need one at all. PrinterLogic’s next-generation print management solution does everything you demand of print servers—but without the WAN vulnerabilities, the expanding infrastructure, the limits to scalability, and the susceptibility to PrintNightmare.
PrinterLogic’s SaaS solution allows you to manage your entire print environment, no matter how distributed, from a single pane of glass. Better still, you can deliver printers to users without relying on GPOs or scripts and easily implement advanced functionality like Mobile Printing. You can even empower end users to install printers themselves in the Self-Service Printer Installation Portal.
Already using print servers?
So, what if you’ve deployed a print server (or several) in your organization?
PrinterLogic makes the transition to powerful, centrally managed direct IP printing quick and easy. It features a handy print server migration tool that imports all your printers, drivers, and profiles, so you can seamlessly manage your entire print environment from a centralized location and eliminate your print servers—and all their attendant costs and hassle—in record time.
Even when done properly, print server deployment is no small task. It takes a lot of time and planning, but even if you make all the right moves, your organization is still stuck with their inherent limitations and security vulnerabilities.
It stands to reason that the best way to deploy print servers is not deploying them…ever.