Print servers are so widespread in the enterprise and such a common part of print infrastructure that it may seem like there are no other options when it comes to print management.
And yet, if you were to ask admins who deal with print servers on a regular basis, they would have very little good to say about them. Print servers are notorious for being finicky, error prone, and high maintenance—an admin’s foe rather than a friend.
There has to be a viable alternative to deploy printers without Windows print servers, right?
There is, and it can be done without scripts and GPOs too.
How to set up deployments without print servers
Unreliable GPO-based deployments and workarounds following PrintNightmare were the last straw. You no longer want to deal with print servers because of security issues and deployment complexities. All you need to know are the next steps.
Step 1: Look into direct IP printing.
We’re not talking about installing all your printers to workstations manually as direct IP printers. That would take too much time. And although it eliminates the need for servers, management would get out of hand real quick.
What I’m describing is a solution that installs a client on each workstation and keeps the communication between the workstation and printer. There’s no print spooling involved and jobs stay on the local network.
In short, direct IP printing is the way you can truly deploy printers without servers. And there are ways to centrally-manage direct IP printing in the cloud (which we will cover later).
Step 2: Move your print management to the cloud.
Not to make it sound easy.
Moving to cloud print management takes a lot of work. There’s planning involved, pricing needs to be right, and security requirements need to be met before you can pull the trigger. But the hardest part is finding a solution that does what you need it to do.
Here are a few questions you can ask cloud print management solutions to ensure they are a perfect match:
- Does your solution completely eliminate print servers?
- Do all printer settings and configurations stay intact during migration?
- Is the user interface easy to learn?
- Is your solution direct IP?
- Do you offer a free proof-of-concept?
Depending on your unique requirements, you may need to ask more questions to narrow down your list of potential solutions.
And that’s okay.
But remember, the goal is to get rid of servers and replace GPO-based deployments with a more streamlined method.
Step 3: Consolidate your locations on one platform.
Many IT teams are tasked with managing both main and remote office printing. In distributed print environments with print servers, deployments increase in complexity since admins no longer have centralized control.
Having the ability to pull all of your printers, printer drivers, and their settings from your print servers via Active Directory enables you to see every aspect of your print environment from a single user interface.
This centralized approach to management put your printer drivers in a single repository, making it easy to add, remove, and replace them with ease. Plus, it ensures that the right printers get to the right users reliably and consistently without scripts and GPOs. All you have to do is tick a few boxes.
So you’ve got your printers, printer drivers, and users in one location. What’s next?
Step 4: Configure printer default settings.
This isn’t a requirement for better deployments, but it will save you time and money down the road.
Consider these wasteful printing habits:
- A certain department regularly prints in color unnecessarily.
- Users print single-sided instead of duplex.
- Employees don’t look at printer settings at all before printing.
Configuring default printer settings ensure that each time a user changes settings for a print job, the print settings automatically revert back to the settings you created. To help fit the unique needs of certain employees or departments, you can customize settings by printers individually as well.
Finally, it’s time to pick your deployment method.
Step 5: Choose how you want to deploy printers.
Now that you’ve unified your print management, given your users direct IP printing through eliminating your print servers, and have your drivers in a single repository, it’s time to deploy and enjoy.
Depending on how much control you need over deployments, you have a few different options:
Deploy by IP-address range: If you have roaming employees regularly moving between office buildings and departments, setting up automatic deployments based on IP address delivers printers to end users instantly. This allows you to set deployments on autopilot and boosts end user productivity.
Leverage self-service printing: Empower end users to install their own printers without calling on IT. Similar to automatic IP range deployments, users can instead choose the printer they need from a drop-down list or floor plan map to identify available printers and install them. No deployments are required from the admin.
Set granular deployment criteria: Get more specific with your deployments. Deploy printers to just a few users, create group-specific deployment criteria, and set a default printer on a one-time basis to make sure users only have access to the printers they need.
The quickest way to deploy printers without print servers.
You’ve seen how it is possible to deploy printers without servers in a few easy steps. The hardest part of the journey is actually finding a centralized, direct IP print management solution that helps you get there.
PrinterLogic can help.
Offering a host of easy and alternate ways to deploy printers, PrinterLogic integrates with Active Directory (AD), so you can use criteria such as containers, users, computers, organizational units (OUs) and even IP address ranges to automatically and dynamically deploy printers to your users.
It also slots in smoothly alongside virtual solutions like Citrix and VMware, making printer deployment practically effortless in those customarily complex environments. And because PrinterLogic doesn’t rely on GPOs, support staff with lower-level privileges can still safely deploy printers to select users.
Want to test out serverless deployments?