Branch Office Direct Printing with Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 R2 included a new and welcome feature called Branch Office Direct Printing. Because high WAN utilization is such an ongoing problem for distributed organizations with a centralized server infrastructure, this feature was designed to reduce network traffic via WAN connections by allowing client workstations at remote sites to make direct connections to local printers for faster and more reliable branch printing. In theory, this method of branch office printing should also reduce the workload on the overtaxed centralized print servers by bypassing them entirely.

As many IT professionals soon discovered, however, Branch Office Direct Printing in Windows Server 2012 has a number of show-stopping restrictions. To begin with, it requires both Windows 8 clients and a print server running Windows Server 2012. With so many organizations still running Windows 7 clients, branch office printing would force them into system-wide OS upgrades just to make use of a single benefit. Furthermore, this implementation of branch office printing also calls for printer drivers that support the client-side rendering (CSR) capability on which it relies.

And then there’s lost functionality. Branch office printing in Windows Server 2012 forfeits quota, auditing and detailed job logging capabilities, and it also introduces some security issues because printers have to be configured to accept jobs from any client. As Branch Office Direct Printing relies on CSR to handle print jobs, any server-side rendering (SSR) features would naturally be inaccessible with branch printing enabled.

Even with all those caveats, Microsoft makes no guarantees that Branch Office Direct Printing will reduce WAN traffic, speed up branch printing and improve scalability as intended.

To truly enjoy the benefits of Branch Office Direct Printing in Windows Server 2012 without the long list of conditions and tradeoffs, there’s PrinterLogic. Optimized branch printing isn’t an added feature – it’s an integral part of our print management solution.

By leveraging robust direct IP technology, PrinterLogic enables you to eliminate the WAN traffic created by print jobs in all kinds of print environments, even those with hybrid OS clients. It automatically creates direct connections between endpoint devices and printers, which prevents those print jobs from ever crossing the WAN. That reduction in print traffic ends up reducing overall network congestion and accelerating branch office printing. Plus PrinterLogic can integrate with your existing WAN caching technologies to avoid cross-WAN driver download, so you can push out company-wide driver installs and updates without worrying about bogging down the WAN link to remote sites.

Better still, PrinterLogic allows you to eliminate your print servers entirely – along with their attendant costs, infrastructure and hassle. In their place you get increased branch printing functionality, centralized administration over every network printer from a single pane of glass, an intuitive user self-service portal for routine printer installations, and the possibility to include modules for mobile/BYOD printing, comprehensive auditing capabilities and much more.

Branch Office Direct Printing in Windows Server 2012 was met with cheers, quickly followed by disappointment when all of its limitations were factored in. PrinterLogic has no such drawbacks. It enables your entire organization to move beyond print servers while delivering all the benefits you expect of WAN-avoiding branch office printing.