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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Microsoft Branch Office Direct Printing

There are a number of solutions available for direct IP printing. These are however different in functionality and scalability. Microsoft introduced Branch Office Direct Printing, available for environments that have Windows 2012 server and Windows 8 or Windows 10 clients. Microsoft clearly states the limitations of the solution. This helps organizations looking to move to direct IP printing to make a well informed decision and to possibly look for a different solution that is a better fit for their current or future environment.

First, let's quickly revisit the reason behind investing in a solution for direct IP printing. Such solutions are intended to reduce print related WAN traffic. Keeping the print job local versus sending it to a print server for processing. The job is processed on the user workstation and sent straight to the printer instead. This reduces bandwidth consumption by up to 99%. It also means that there is no longer a need for multiple print servers as the print jobs do not have to go through these servers in order to be processed. As organizations typically have print servers at each (major) location, this results in an instant cost reduction and a rapid ROI.

That explains why organizations consider direct IP printing. But the big question that every one of those should ask is: what solution is suitable for us? The leading vendors are clear about functionality but not often about limitations. Cirrato has investigated the differences between the most popular solutions and created comparisons (available to partners via our partner portal and to customers via eominfo@lrs.com.

Microsoft does clearly list the limitations of their Branch Office Direct Printing solution. When comparing Cirrato to the Microsoft solution, we find the following key differences:

Cirrato 

Microsoft Branch Office Direct Printing

Manages all printers and print queues on the network

Limited to 2,000 devices

Manages locally connected and network printers

Manages network printers

Pull (Follow Me) printing supported for all major brands

Pull printing not supported

Offers user quotas, print rules and accounting

User quotas, print rules or accounting not supported

Supports Printer Pooling

Printer Pooling not supported

Works with Windows XP and higher, MAC OS X

Works with Windows 8 and higher

Handles various versions of drivers simultaneously

Can handle one version of a print driver at the time

Option to test drivers before rollout (phased driver rollout)

No option to test drivers prior to rollout

End-user self service portal

No end-user portal

End-user web based tool for printer installation (Navigator)

No web based tool for installation of printers

End-users can install print drivers

Admin privileges requires to install print drivers


Clearly stating limitations helps prevent disappointment. When an organization invests in a printing solution, they do so for the long run. They do not want to switch over because the solution ends up not being a good match for the environment. Whether this is the current environment, or the one in five or ten years. And they will change. It might be that employees only use Windows right now, but MAC might be introduced in the future. Or how about growth? For example acquisitions that could add a large number of devices that the solution will also need to manage. 

It is important to choose a solution that can deal with this if required. And not just today, but taking into account future changes as well. The open approach that Microsoft took by listing limitations makes sense. It ensures that those who choose it, are likely to be happy with it. And those who require different things will make a different decision.

If you want to learn more about the differences between Cirrato and Microsoft Branch Office Direct Printing or other print management solutions, please contact eominfo@lrs.com

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