Our final article on the topic of print architecture discusses the many factors to consider when deploying a network printing architecture.
Previous blog articles have highlighted the two main architectures often used: Traditional print servers and direct IP printing. We have also looked at the TCO arguments for use cases where each makes financial sense. There are, however, other factors that must be taken into account.
Starting with the structural characteristics of the company’s physical presence is a good starting point. For example, is there a large corporate main office with several small remote offices, or are there are just multiple offices with roughly the same amount of connections in each office? The configurations are countless, but once this profile is understood, you can take the next step in planning the right network printing approach, which should include a print management solution.
Consider business reasons when picking the right architecture
There are several business reasons to implement print servers or direct IP printing, but the user needs are often the same. Make it easy to print documents. Enable users to securely print confidential information, and support mobile workers needs to print anywhere at any time. Users also want the flexibility to configure and manage their printer settings as needed in a simple manner. From an administrative side, IT managers want to be able to centrally manage print queues, manage print drivers, and track usage for cost recovery purposes. With few exceptions, the ability to meet both the user and administrative needs lies in a print management solution.
The challenge is to not select a print management solution that locks you into a particular network printing architecture. Most print management solutions today support traditional print server architectures, but not direct IP environments. In the absence of print management software, print servers offer some centralized management, but lack the secure printing capabilities and usage tracking. Direct IP environments offer the benefits of lower TCO in smaller user count environments, as well as using spare CPU cycles on less expensive desktops and laptops, as well as reducing some point of failure risks associated with print servers.
However, in the absence of print management software, direct IP environments lack of centralized management and secure printing capabilities that can easily outweigh the cost benefits of reduced or eliminated print servers. There are a few companies which offer print management solutions for direct IP environments, but most of the time, these solutions are limited to only direct IP environments and do not support print server environments simultaneously. This presents a challenge for those organizations that can use the benefits of both print server and direct IP network printing environments.
However, you don’t have to make these tradeoffs. For example, Nuance offers the “best of both worlds.” You may benefit from a solution, which provides the benefits of centralized print management, tracking, and secure printing, and mobile user printing for both print server and direct IP environments.