Doing Your “Home Work”— Part One
Thursday, July 23, 2020
by Massimo Spada
For better or worse, we have all gotten more familiar with the “work from home” lifestyle, part of which includes printing documents in your home office. Printing from local applications running on your desktop is straightforward if you have a printer somehow attached to the PC. But what happens when you need to print critical documents produced by business applications?
The most common scenario is one where you are using a company-supplied laptop computer that is administered by your corporate IT department. This PC lets you remotely access your centralized work applications. Unfortunately, when working from home, you may or may not have access to a printer. And if you do, it may be some personal printer that was neither purchased, endorsed, nor supported by your company’s IT staff.
If your company has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy in place, you likely already have some infrastructural components installed that can make printing easier. But there are other variables that can further complicate the process of printing from your home office. For example:
- Do you have a network printer or a locally attached USB printer?
- How do you connect to the business applications in your company? Via the public Internet? Over a VPN connection? Or did your company extend WAN connectivity to your home?
- Do you have admin rights to control settings on your PC (for example, the ability to add a new printer)?
Whether any or all of these factors affect you, LRS has ways to simplify the process of printing business documents from your home office. The remainder of this article will discuss the first of these scenarios.
Printing from centralized business applications to a network printer over the public Internet
Today, many organizations enable remote employees and third-party organizations to access critical business applications over the internet via the secure HTTPS protocol. This is a good example of Internet-based computing. However, printing from the business application to a device in the remote location is not a simple matter because of security and firewall concerns.
It’s no surprise that organizations want to leverage public Internet infrastructure around the world to print securely to remote office locations, without the need for a dedicated WAN or VPN connection. Such infrastructure can be expensive to set up and maintain over time.
Imagine the following work-from-home scenario:
- The remote worker accesses business applications outside of a VPN/WAN connection, i.e., over the public Internet.
- The applications generate the print job directly on the corporate server where the applications are running (i.e., backend printing), not on the user’s remote PC
- The remote worker has a network-attached printer at their home office
Such a scenario is ideal for a solution we call “affiliate printing,” so named because the remote office and the application hosting provider are affiliated in some way. Simply put, the company running the centralized application and the one or more remote user(s) have some sort of business relationship.
Affiliate Printing functionality helps users and organizations overcome the many obstacles related to printing, without sacrificing overall network security or adding complexity. In this scenario, a centrally created spool job can be delivered to a remote network printer located in an office connected to central location via the Internet (HTTP/HTTPS).
To enable this functionality, the LRS Affiliate Client needs to be installed (with appropriate authority) on a Windows Desktop within the same local network where the destination printer is located. There are a variety of LRS Transforms available that can convert any data stream generated by the applications into one supported by the remote user’s printer; all without using PC-based drivers or other intervention on the affiliate workstation(s).
The Affiliate Printing infrastructure makes remote printing secure, transparent, and highly reliable when printing over the public Internet. But what if your remote end users need to print from business applications via a VPN or WAN connection? Watch for the next installment of this Blog series or contact your local LRS team to discuss all the options at your disposal.