A recent LRS Blog post from by one of my colleagues, Brent Black, posed the novel question: “What do stretch pants and LRS output management have in common?” The answer in a nutshell: when it comes to business software, as with many things in life, it pays to think ahead and choose a solution that can grow to accommodate your ever-expanding… requirements.

As the father of three school-age boys, the metaphors that naturally spring to myLRS new DNA mind have less to do with golf fashion and more to do with adventure movies and toys (bear with me here, there’s a point). As it turns out, one of my favorite childhood toys, the little plastic construction brick, is still a big hit today. For me, the beauty of these toys has always been their universality: every piece connects to any other via a standard interface. Given enough bricks, enough time, and enough imagination, you can build literally anything. A six-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex? Ten feet? Twenty? No problem – the promise of infinite scalability is baked into every colorful (and fiercely copyright-protected) brick that comes off the line in Denmark.

That’s not what appeals to my kids, however. They don’t need or want toys that won’t fit in their closet. For them, the beauty of these bricks is their simplicity: open a box, “click” a couple dozen pieces together, and start playing. Every pre-packaged construction kit contains exactly what they need, along with a set of simple directions. Click it together and it just works.

Software for any need and any workplace size

Since the launch of our original mainframe VPS® product in 1982, LRS software has always been developed with scalability in mind. Introduced in 2004, our open systems VPSX® product (now called the VPSX Enterprise™ solution) was no exception. Rock-solid document spool? Check. Single process/multi-threaded architecture? Check. Open standards-based design for tight integration with any business application on any platform in our clients’ environments? Click. Ability to quickly combine various data transforms, security methods, and other modules to fit a customer’s exact needs? Click click click.

The fact is, a single VPSX server can provide reliable document delivery to tens of thousands of printers. But there are a lot of companies with just a few hundred employees who do most of their printing from laptops or thin clients running Microsoft Office. For them, the extreme scalability of VPSX software is of no immediate interest. Simplicity, user experience and savings are the name of the game as organizations focus on ways to improve the “digital workplace.”

That’s why, on March 9th, LRS welcomed two new products to the VPSX family. VPSX/Workplace™ software takes many of the best features of the VPSX solution – intuitive web interface, robust document spool, superior extensibility – and focuses it squarely on the needs of companies whose users do their computing on Windows desktops.

One VPSX/Workplace instance can eliminate dozens or hundreds of Windows Print Servers, greatly reducing IT complexity as well as hardware and infrastructure cost. VPSX/Workplace software supports a hybrid print management approach, leveraging both spool-based and Direct IP printing methods. Web-based printer portal? Check. Automated print driver management, updates, and provisioning? Click, click, click.

The other new member of the VPSX family is VPSX/DirectPrint™. Like the VPSX/Workplace solution, it is geared toward companies whose documents come from Windows desktops. However, VPSX/DirectPrint software is tailored toward companies who do not require the robust document spooling offered by the other VPSX solutions. The presence of several “spool-less,” Direct IP-only print management solutions on the market suggests that there is a need for such a product. VPSX/DirectPrint software puts the rich feature set of the VPSX family within reach of even the smallest organization.

Loaded, with room to grow

Expanding the VPSX family from one solution to multiple offerings will unlock the potential for enterprise-class print and output management to organizations of all sizes. Say a local company runs all of its critical systems on Windows, but later merges with a business down the street running applications on both Windows and UNIX/Linux variants. There’s no need to start shopping for a new print solution – just add the capabilities you need. Most features of VPSX/DirectPrint, VPSX/Workplace, and VPSX Enterprise software can be enabled or disabled with little more than a phone call and a new license key.

Like stretch pants, LRS software can expand as you grow your business. Like construction bricks, our solutions offer both simplicity and infinite customization through clever, thoughtful design. Whatever metaphor you choose, LRS software gives you great flexibility and significant bottom-line benefits. What you do with them is up to you.