Posted by Cris Beagle
Progressive MSPs seek win-win partnerships
As Director of Technical Services at a fast-growing managed service provider, I’m always on the lookout for the best IT solutions I can find.
The reasons are twofold. First, best-in-class software improves our customers’ experience by providing the best solutions to their everyday problems. That has a halo effect on our brand as an MSP. Second, the best solutions make us more effective on the administrative side, where we can ensure a smooth end-user experience with the same—or fewer—resources.
Said another way, having the right partnerships allows us to be more responsive, more cost-effective, and more competitive. For MSPs and their customers, that’s a win–win scenario.
Challenge: split Citrix environments
Let’s start with a real-world example. Our first-ever customer is a healthcare provider that operates about 40 nursing homes across the U.S. Because they’re a distributed organization, they use a Citrix virtual environment to provide desktop services for their staff. That’s supplemented by centralized print servers and a fleet of 330 devices for printing. Within this environment, they also run an electronic medical records (EMR) solution called American HealthTech.
Several years ago, this customer faced a serious challenge. To accommodate their EMR software, their Citrix solution was configured so that some facilities were split between multiple Citrix environments. This created a lot of front-end and back-end fragmentation. And that split gave rise to printing issues, because the remote clients were either mapping all available network printers—or just the default local devices— depending on which Citrix server the client was connecting to.
It wasn’t just automatic printer mapping issues, either. We found printers that were triplicated in Active Directory, causing lots of confusion even if you tried doing things manually. Day-to-day printing was incredibly slow, too, given print jobs had to cross the WAN twice as they traveled from the remote client to the central print server, then back to the local printer.
Those problems were compounded by the kind of driver compatibility issues you encounter in a conventional print environment. Even when printer mapping was successful, there was no guarantee the operating system and the driver version would play well together.
The combined result was that our customer’s IT support personnel were fighting a losing battle with print-related tickets, and its end users were suffering through chronic printing problems.
I had heard about PrinterLogic from an IT colleague, and I started looking into it. On paper, I was super impressed with what it could offer. Granular, administrative control of a direct-IP print environment from one pane of glass? Seamless integration with Microsoft AD and virtual environments like Citrix? A single, easily managed driver repository? Automated printer deployments based on precise criteria?
From the outset, it seemed like this solution could address all our printing problems in one fell swoop: driver incompatibility, unreliable printer mapping, slow printing, printing errors, you name it. I took the idea to Adam, our president, and he saw the promise of PrinterLogic right away.
We agreed to try it out. We rolled out PrinterLogic and we were amazed by the print-management transformation that occurred—especially considering the complexity of our customer’s environment.
To deliver printers to the customer’s staff, we began by configuring deployments based on IP scope, which is really easy in PrinterLogic’s web-based management console. If a user is in a particular IP scope, he or she gets all the printers for that site. This was well received by everyone, especially regional managers who travel between sites. When they logged into a new virtual session at another location, they instantly got access to all the printers at that facility. I’d call that a best-case scenario.
What we found is that PrinterLogic plays as well with American HealthTech as it does with Citrix.
The EMR solution is delivered via a terminal server environment, so users still print through an RDS session—even though we’ve deployed a native desktop. PrinterLogic streamlined that situation, too. Even without PrinterLogic running in the terminal server environment, the printers map and print without trouble. It just works.
End users have seen a noticeable difference in the speed of printing, too. PrinterLogic’s direct-IP paradigm means that print jobs stay on the local network, traveling straight from the remote client to the local printer. With print jobs no longer crossing the WAN, network traffic is reduced, as well as the risk of printing errors and delays.
PrinterLogic: A scalable efficiency partner for MSPs
There’s no better way for an MSP to ramp up business than with a big success story. Our customer was relieved because their printing nightmares vanished almost overnight. Our staff was relieved, too, because PrinterLogic’s powerful admin console saved them from having to wrestle with GPOs, missing printers and problems at remote sites.
As our business grew, there were more opportunities to put PrinterLogic to work. The solution was so effective that we began using it as our go-to enterprise print-management solution. We rolled it out to customer after customer—simplifying their (and our) print environment as we went. Customers got the robust, reliable printing they’d always wanted, and we got print management that practically takes care of itself.
These days, the only reason for us to access PrinterLogic is to do a move/add/change, which is as easy for individual printers as it is for an entire fleet. Our service desk averages about 750 support tickets a month, and I’d be surprised if even five of them are print-related now.
PrinterLogic is also helping us stay on the cutting edge, and advance our cloud-first philosophy. With PrinterCloud, we enjoy a flexible, cost-effective SaaS print-management solution that offers close to 100 percent feature parity with the on-premises version. Which opens the door to additional success stories for us as an end-to-end MSP. As well as our customers.