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Generally speaking, print servers have two possible implementations. The first involves deploying multiple print servers across an organization, effectively distributing the total printing load. This means that the inevitable print server crashes are more localized and will only affect a smaller portion of end users, but it drives up the costs of procurement, administration, maintenance and upgrades. The second implementation involves printing with a single server, which consolidates the print infrastructure.
The appeal of printing with a single server should be obvious. Reduced infrastructure! Lower costs! Centralized administration! Ah, but not so fast. Just as there are drawbacks with multi-server implementations, so too, there are drawbacks with single-server printing—at least as far as traditional print servers are concerned. These include:
A critical single point of failure: Your print capabilities are now at the mercy of one notoriously unreliable device. If that print server crashes or fails, no one in the organization can print until it's brought back online. And that means the IT team has to be ready to drop everything at a moment's notice in order to restore print capabilities. Higher costs of redundancy: Some organizations compensate for the vulnerability that single-server printing creates by investing in secondary and even tertiary fallback print servers. But here's the irony: Those organizations can no longer claim to be printing with a single server because those redundant print servers have to be purchased, operated and maintained alongside the primary one. Increased strain on the wide-area network (WAN): Single-server printing in geographically distributed organizations depends on a reliable, large-bandwidth WAN. This is because print-related data traffic from remote sites has to take a very inefficient route from the client machine all the way to the main print server, then back again to the local printer. And though the print job might leave the client machine measuring a few hundred kilobytes in size, rendering can cause it to balloon to several hundred megabytes before the return journey. All that extra data can take a toll on WAN performance. Increased dependence on the WAN: Even with redundancy measures in place, two-way print traffic comes to a halt should the WAN connection be interrupted for any reason. The concern over single points of failure then shifts to the WAN, which is a very fragile lifeline for something as vital as printing. As you can see, printing with a single server is fraught with challenges and risks. Fortunately, Printer has developed a next-generation print management solution that is able to deliver the benefits of single-server printing without the usual drawbacks posed by print servers—even (and especially) in distributed environments.
That's because our enterprise print management solution leverages the strengths of direct IP printing to establish one-to-one connections between client machines and local printers. In the event of a WAN outage, for example, Printer enables end users to continue printing as usual with no loss of functionality. And by the same token, Printer also frees up WAN bandwidth, as routine outgoing and incoming print-related data traffic is minimized. Advantages like those are all but impossible with single-server printing using conventional print servers.
At the same time, Printer's enterprise print management solution provides effortless centralized printer and driver management, self-service printer installation for end users, dynamic automated deployments without the use of group policy objects (GPOs) and scripts, seamless integration with virtual solutions (e.g., Citrix, VMware), and even the ability to add Mobile Printing and Secure Printing functionality. All with the minimal footprint—and cost—through printing with a single server. In other words: No pain, all gain.
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