Guest Blog: Simplifying a “Clustered” Virtual Environment with PrinterLogic

Posted by Joel Brooks

I work as an Information Services Technician Level III for Navicent Health, a nonprofit healthcare corporation that provides a wide range of care across a large network of hospitals and care centers throughout central Georgia.

We have about 5,000 employees and, as you can probably imagine, a large printer fleet of about 1,500 devices that includes copy machines, multi-function devices and label printers.

Before we discovered PrinterLogic, one of our primary printing problems involved our VMware thin-client VDI environment. To get printing to work between VMware and PowerWorks, our electronic medical records (EMR) solution, we had to create separate virtual machine pools around on the printer they used. We would locally embed printers into a virtual parent image and deploy that image to those pools. Virtual thin-client terminals would then get their printers depending on the pool they joined.

That meant we had multiple virtual environments for one location. It wasn’t easy to administer, but we probably could have lived with it if it worked.

Except it didn’t. A physician might log into one terminal, pull up the chart for his next patient, then walk twenty feet down the hall to the room where the patient was waiting. If the terminal in that room was in a different pool, his session wouldn’t follow him. He would have to pull up the patient chart all over again.

Because of the hoops we had to jump through just to set up printing, we lost our roaming capability. We were also making daily onsite support visits for issues that we should have been able to manage remotely.

Which kind of defeats the point of having a VDI solution at all.

Searching for solutions
At first we tried using a software printing solution to address our clustered virtual environment, but that only led to a new set of problems. I remember struggling with it and its deployment protocols, and the technician that came out to advise us only ended up confusing us more. The diagram he drew to demonstrate our ideal setup looked like a John Madden play-by-play.

I’d had a great experience with PrinterLogic at my previous employer, which was another large healthcare organization with a virtual environment, so I recommended that we give PrinterLogic a try here at Navicent.

We set up a PrinterLogic demo server. After three weeks of unsuccessfully trying to configure the prior solution, we were up and running with PrinterLogic within thirty minutes.

No more clusters, no more onsite visits
PrinterLogic enabled us to consolidate our virtual clusters—our primary printing and administrative headache—almost instantly.

What does that look like on the ground?

It means that the medical staff log in first thing in the morning, get their virtual session, and that virtual session stays with them the entire day. As soon as they tap out of a terminal and tap in again, the same session that they had pulls up with all the right information. They can badge in and out everywhere. There’s no thirty-minute wait for Windows to build their profile. And they can always print to a local printer. We now have true, seamless roaming.

Along with streamlining our VMware environment, we also saw our print-related support calls drop to almost nothing. I used to get multiple calls a day from perturbed physicians asking why they had to log in over and over again and start fresh each time. Since implementing PrinterLogic, I go months between support calls.

When I first started, I was going down to our remote locations every day trying to fix printers or virtual environments. Not anymore. Onsite visits are more like a casual friendly check-in.

PrinterLogic didn’t just stop at simplifying VDI printing. It also solved our deployment issues by eliminating group policy requirements. That’s something I’ll describe in more detail in a follow-up post.