Redirecting printers and print jobs in VDI environments
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
by Lou Bartlett
EDITOR’S NOTE: While the recent emergence of Covid-19 variants is somewhat less disruptive to businesses than the original virus was, one thing is certain: virtual desktops and the need for reliable VDI printing are here to stay. Organizations have adapted critical work processes as well as the IT systems that support them. As such, the article penned by my colleague more than a year and a half ago still rings true today. Enjoy.
Recent events have driven companies to adopt new ways of working, including broader use of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology. Whether working from a physical desktop in the office or a virtual desktop from a remote location, printing challenges are a part of office life. There are many solutions that seek to prevent, resolve, or minimize printer downtime, but printing problems are difficult to eliminate.
Printing in remote desktop environments such as VMware and Citrix can be problematic for end users. It can also pose a challenge for the IT department as they seek to manage printer and driver settings. As an output management solution provider, LRS seeks to address all possible printing issues, including those in VDI applications.
The challenge within VDI environments is that while all settings and files are stored on a remote server, the printer settings corresponding to individual users are not. These are lost each time a session ends. This inconveniences end users, as they will typically need to find and install printers each time they want to submit a print job. We previously published a blog article on this particular topic.
For IT professionals, there are different problems that can occur within the remote desktop infrastructure. Some of the most common ones administrators face are problems with the ‘printer redirection’ feature, which was first implemented in Windows 2000 Server. It allows for a local printer to be mapped to a remote desktop device. This enables an end user to print to a local printer from a remote services session. While this seems like a good solution for VDI, remote printer redirection can cause issues if the mapping isn’t done properly, if the print drivers aren’t set up in the right way or if group policies aren’t accurate. Any of these problems might even cause the server to crash and increase the possibility of printer downtime.
LRS Virtual Session Printer Agent (VSPA) software was developed as an output management solution for remote desktop infrastructures. It eliminates the need to manually create printer settings like those described above, instead giving the IT department centralized control over printing throughout the enterprise. Printer management in VDI environments thus becomes as easy as basic Windows printing. Drivers can be uploaded into a central repository and deployed automatically. End users can add printers via the self-service portal or have a nearby device added automatically based on their workstation’s IP address. In case of an error, the problem can be quickly identified and resolved.
Print job redirection for smarter printing options
Printer redirection is not to be confused with print job redirection. The latter is a feature within print management software that allows certain print jobs, based on size, volume, or color to be redirected to a more cost-efficient printer. Print job redirection can also be used to divert a print job if someone is trying to print to an unavailable device. In this case, a popup is displayed to tell the user that the print job is redirected to printer XYZ.
There are several ways of achieving this goal, but in principle the above-described process is available in most solutions. It is a great way to reduce print costs, increase awareness and promote environmentally sustainable office practices. It also eliminates the paper and time costs related to documents being printed after an unavailable device comes back online (and starts printing the full queue).
It is LRS’ mission to create useful solutions that facilitate and simplify everyday work processes that involve managing document output. This is true, regardless of whether people print from remote desktop (VMware or Citrix printing), traditional Windows, Open Source, or applications such as SAP. All of our solutions are designed to make printing accessible and available. Contact our experts today to learn about all the advantages LRS solutions can bring to your organization.