I’ve been focusing on PrinterLogic K-12 education solutions for five years, and the number one request I’ve heard from prospective customers is the ability to set limits on how much a user can print. This stems from scenarios like these:
- A student clicks “Print” but doesn’t immediately hear the printer start whirring. In their impatience, they click “Print” fifteen more times.
- Instead of printing a selection of pages from a large eBook, a teacher accidentally prints all 200 pages of the document.
- Faculty prints dozens of originals on a high-quality printer instead of the more affordable option of printing one master document and photocopying it.
- For reasons no one can pinpoint, some classrooms are tearing through paper and toner at a disproportionate rate.
- A small group of users is constantly printing in color when monochrome will suffice.
Every single one of these scenarios takes a toll on the limited print budget. If only IT could easily put hard caps on how many pages users could print during a given timeframe!
We heard those requests loud and clear. That’s why we’re pleased to roll out Quota Management as the newest feature in PrinterLogic’s native-SaaS serverless printing platform. This post will provide you with a quick overview of the highlights and functionality of Quota Management as it’s implemented in PrinterLogic.
What Is Quota Management?
Quota management is the process of creating fixed limits on print volume, typically within a certain period: User A can’t print more than 200 pages per month. Or User B is allocated a maximum of $100 in printing costs each quarter. Establishing these not-to-exceed thresholds can have several benefits—from controlling runaway print costs to reducing your organization’s environmental footprint.
There are a few different ways to implement a quota management system in your print environment. Most come in the form of add-ons or separate solutions that you deploy and manage on top of your existing print-management software. Unfortunately, the solutions themselves can become another universal pain point. They’re expensive, they rarely integrate well, and they occasionally create so much extra work that IT resorts to raising the quota to the point of ineffectiveness.
Quota Management in PrinterLogic
The key criteria for PrinterLogic’s Quota Management are price and volume. Admins can choose whether to limit printing based on either of these variables. They’re defined by currency amount or by page count using the provided fields in our Admin Console.
PrinterLogic further breaks things out by users and groups. A user will be an individual, such as a student or a teacher. A group can be anything you’ve configured in your identity provider (IdP)—a classroom, a grade, a school, or even an entire district. When you assign a quota to a group, all users in that group likewise inherit that limit. So, for example, every student (user) in 7th grade (group) will automatically be assigned the quota you’ve set for that group.
Groups are also cumulative. A user who is in group X and group Y will inherit the quotas of X+Y. As a practical illustration, imagine a teacher who teaches some classes at the middle school and some at the high school. If the middle-school faculty has a group quota of $100 and the high-school faculty has a group quota of $100, that teacher will have a quota of $200 total print spend. Of course, you can also modify user quotas separately to remove the cumulative effect.
Each of these quotas applies for a certain time period. Once again, that period is highly customizable: days, weeks, months, or a full academic year. If that period has not been marked as recurring, print volumes become unrestricted after the period expires.
Additional Customization Options
After configuring basic print quota criteria and user organization, many organizations will be up and running. But PrinterLogic offers even more parameters for enforcing print limits.
- Limiting job size. One option is to limit users to a predetermined number of pages for each individual print job. Keeping print jobs to a reasonable 10 or 15 pages helps curb the tendency to print huge documents like entire eBooks or websites, whether intentionally or accidentally.
- User and group quotas are adjustable midstream. If a user or group hits their quota before a period expires, IT or a trusted user (more detail on role-based access control below) can easily raise the allotted page count or total print spend in the Admin Console. That also works in the opposite direction: Quotas for groups or individual users can be lowered in the middle of a period as well.
- Incentives to favor economy. Another option is to input differential price information for the four typical printer modes: B/W, color, B/W duplex, and color duplex. Admins can enter their own per-page costs and change them as necessary. If the school really wants to discourage, say, color printing, this value can be artificially inflated to encourage users to think twice before printing 100 worksheets with a single blue icon.
- Mitigating redundancy and waste. Time-delayed printing was a feature requested by our K-6 customers. This is because young students are tempted to initiate a print job over and over when they don’t see a printer immediately spring into action. By instituting a waiting period of, for instance, 15 seconds before the same print job can be reinitiated, schools can mitigate the worst effects of itchy mouse fingers.
Coupled with all these features is the ability to control printing by mode or by device. PrinterLogic makes it possible for IT to confine student printing to a dedicated classroom printer or enforce black-and-white printing by default.
How Quotas Are Calculated
When a user prints, the number (or cost) of each successfully printed page counts against their quota—successfully being the operative word. Print jobs that take place through PrinterLogic’s secure release pull printing don’t count against the quota until the end user releases them.
Single-sided print jobs are calculated as one page. Duplex jobs are counted as two pages. In line with the features I’ve already noted above, IT can base quotas on price and set custom amounts for per-page duplex costs if it’s important to encourage users to prioritize that mode.
If a print job would put a user over their limit, the print job will not execute. Let’s say that a student initiates a 12-page print job with only 10 pages remaining on their quota. That print job will not be relayed to the printer. Instead, the user is informed that it would exceed their quota. The rationale for avoiding partial print jobs is that the user is likely to print the entire document again once print capabilities are restored.
Role-Based Access Control and IdPs
When developing Quota Management, we sought to make everything as user-friendly and transparent as possible. It has the same ease of use as our end-to-end serverless printing solution, so IT can configure custom quotas in a few clicks within the same Admin Console they’re already using for printer and driver deployment.
That ease of use extends to our use of role-based access control (RBAC), which provides IT with a way of safely delegating tasks to trusted users. In the case of Quota Management, this person might be a secretary or a power user. That trusted user would then have the ability to adjust quotas in real-time via the Admin Console in response to individual requests. However, they wouldn’t have the ability to make any higher-level changes to the print environment. RBAC empowers users to solve their issues quickly on the ground rather than having to submit piecemeal IT support requests.
Because PrinterLogic is a true SaaS solution with native support for 10 leading cloud-based IdPs, user provisioning and single sign-on authentication can be handled through your existing IdP data stores. That makes RBAC and group assignment in Quota Management both convenient and secure.
Metadata and Reporting
PrinterLogic’s Quota Management doesn’t just keep user printing under control. It also works in tandem with PrinterLogic’s reporting capabilities to provide more visibility into printing habits and specific print activities.
Each time a user prints, PrinterLogic captures the metadata of their print job—info like username, device, page count, document filename, mode, and destination printer. This information comes in handy when IT is trying to account for large departmental print volumes and make data-driven decisions on how best to guide printing habits.
Reports are accessible right from the PrinterLogic Admin Console. They can be searched and filtered by any metadata variable, which makes it easy to zero in on the information you’re looking for.
Quota Management comes as part of our new Cost Management bundle, which is focused on helping organizations get a better fix on all the factors that impact their print budget. The Cost Management bundle includes Quota Management today, with two additional features coming soon:
- Quota Management
- Client Cost Management*
- Rules, Routing & Policies*
Because Quota Management extends the functionality of our core platform, it integrates seamlessly with PrinterLogic and ties into all the amazing features you’ve come to expect: direct-IP printing, self-service printer installs, effortless driver management, and much, much more.
Quota Management is available for PrinterLogic SaaS and the PrinterLogic Virtual Appliance (VA). It supports endpoints running Windows, Chrome OS, macOS, Linux, and iOS. Support for Android phones and tablets will be added later in 2022.
For now, we’re concentrating on the functionality our K-12 customers need most. But we’ve got a lot of exciting enhancements planned as well. Down the line, we’re working on features like:
- The ability to count copies made on multifunction printers in quotas.
- Cost accounting that empowers users to increase their printing allowance on their own.
We’ll have more news on timing and capabilities as development continues.
A Complete Printing and Print-Management Solution
Quota Management is just one powerful facet of PrinterLogic’s serverless printing solution. Along with cost-saving print quotas, your K-12 environment will benefit from:
- Serverless (direct-IP) printing
- System-wide identity provider (IdP) integration
- Centralized management
- Self-service printer installation
- Driver and profile management
- Reporting and auditing
All of this functionality is delivered through PrinterLogic’s native-SaaS platform, so it comes with all the advantages you expect from SaaS solutions, such as ease of deployment, ongoing updates, and incredible scalability.
*Available late 2022.