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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Best practices - Optimizing your print infrastructure

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We all know the unwritten rule: if something is working, it’s not a good idea to start making changes. For some, this is both a personal rule to live by and a prevailing attitude in our organizations. When it comes to systems that have been running continually for years and years, it can be smart to avoid change for change’s sake. But thinking about how technology evolves over time, one notices certain windows of opportunity for making improvements. With so many innovations constantly appearing in the market, the way it has always been done is not necessarily the way it should always be done.

There are a few areas that organizations usually do examine within their IT infrastructures. We have been involved in modernization initiatives of every shape and size; most driven by the fact that legacy systems can be difficult to access and costly to maintain. But as the word legacy implies, these systems have played a key role in helping the organization achieve its past successes. “Legacy” has kind of a positive ring to it, representing a sense of history and trust.

But for many people, legacy equates to old. Running a modern enterprise using proven yet outdated systems may not be prudent and for that reason we have assisted many corporations in modernizing their IT environments. Does that mean that we encouraged these organizations to part with their legacy systems? Not at all. But when it makes sense, we don’t hesitate to say so.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

When it comes to legacy systems, the mainframe instantly comes to mind. But simply being tagged with the legacy moniker does not automatically cause a system to disappear from corporate IT infrastructures, as my colleague pointed out in a previous article. Take, for example, the most established product in our software suite, VPS, which makes mainframe-generated documents more accessible and easier to manage. Some of the world’s largest organizations still rely on it daily. However for other customers, the cost of mainframe MIPS is too high, and we have helped those organizations reduce operating costs by moving some, most, or even all of their applications off the mainframe. We simply follow the lead of our customers and help them transition at whatever pace makes the most sense.

Technologies are constantly evolving, and some of the newer ones are not as widely adopted as one might expect. A good example of this is serverless printing. If I had a dollar for every time a customer reported an IT infrastructure with many print servers, I might just be a millionaire. We show such organizations how to change into a more efficient IT infrastructure that does not rely on (Windows) print servers. How? There are many ways, including direct IP printing and SaaS setup. You can read here about some alternatives to print servers.

The transformation of your print infrastructure

Another way to optimize the print infrastructure is enterprise standardization. The print infrastructure exists of more than just the printing devices. It includes every element involved from the moment the print command is given until the actual delivery of the file. Think of the network, print servers, print management software and of course the actual output devices. You can achieve an agile IT environment by establishing a single system to manage all output from any application and any platform and deliver that output to any destination. In fact, this “anything, from anywhere, to anywhere” print capability is what we’ve delivered for more than three decades. We offer a single software layer that monitors and manages all company-wide output.

There are numerous benefits to implementing such a solution. A big one is the unburdening of application teams from the need to deal with ‘simple’ printing issues. Make no mistake, even simple print problems can be show-stoppers with regards to business process continuity. And even a simple helpdesk ticket can get escalated to the application team if the origin is a back-end application.

Increased availability of printing resources for end users is another benefit of centrally managing the print infrastructure. For the IT department, this centralization offers visibility, quick identification of problems and easier troubleshooting from a single, comprehensive interface.

That’s quite a list of benefits, and we actually have a number of customers who have achieved all these and more, making their legacy systems more transparent and easier to work with. They manage their entire output environments with a single LRS software instance that consolidates or even eliminates all other print servers. Few companies want to publicize their monetary figures, but we know customers who have saved anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to many millions. The larger the organization and the more extensive the transformation effort, the more benefits they tend to accrue.

So if your print infrastructure isn’t “broken” but might benefit from an upgrade, don’t hesitate to explore ways to improve it. Instead, come see what others have done to transform out of date technology with modern solutions that will bring benefits for many decades to come and can adapt to future changes more easily than your older, less flexible solutions. Like the wise man says: if it ain’t broke, don’t ignore it until it is.

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