Simplify, Secure, and Save
Friday, October 22, 2021
by Al Nichols
If you are migrating some or all of your IT infrastructure to the Cloud, you might use this opportunity to get rid of some of the infrastructure that’s costing you more than it’s worth. The infrastructure I’m referring to involves printing, of course, which is still a vital part of many business processes. This is especially true in the world of Logistics but is also a required function in every office.
The standard approach to printing over the years has relied on the ubiquitous Windows Print Server (WPS). Or, more precisely, “servers,” as these nasty bits of hardware have an unfortunate habit of multiplying. Plopping down one after another WPS has probably saved companies architectural analysis time, albeit at the expense of increased daily and re-occurring admin costs. Simply adding a WPS is a “cheap and easy” decision that no one will get sacked for, but as recent events have shown, with virus vulnerabilities and Internet-based extortion schemes, it is certainly a decision worth reconsidering. If not now (i.e., when you’re planning a move into the Cloud), then when?
Leaving dozens of print servers in your environment that require full admin access is (in our opinion) frankly just asking for trouble. Who wants to be the next embarrassing headline? A recent customer of ours revealed to us that they had been hacked, that their IT systems were flailing for several weeks, and that it was their WPS that let the criminals in.
Of course, it is very flattering that this customer chose LRS to help them overcome such an issue. But I wish someone there had decided to implement our solution earlier, as the outage cost them over four weeks of production.
WPS alternatives, including spooling systems like CUPS, will not provide the assured delivery that production business processes require and cannot provide a full-featured solution for all document functions including scanning. Known issues with CUPS include frequent overnight incidents due to some vital printer going unresponsive; countless custom scripts to maintain; and more Linux systems requiring patching and administration. These do not bode well for a viable long-term strategy. Besides, it’s not like Linux is immune from virus attacks. Some viruses stay dormant on servers for years, re-encrypting themselves with different algorithms to avoid detection. Reducing the risk by reducing the number of servers is certainly a good start.
So, with your movement to the Cloud, you can take the opportunity to establish an Enterprise Output Management system that does not require Windows admin access to operate. One that can cope with thousands, not hundreds, of queues per server, and which will centrally manage pull printing, push printing, local printing, delegate printing, policy printing, print auditing, driver management, application printing (like SAP and EPIC), and scanning. One that can do all of this across the public Internet (with or without direct network addressability) and support Windows, Linux, OSX and Mobile (iOS and Android) platforms.
As for the migration from WPS to LRS’ Enterprise Output Management; pulling out and replacing all the old, embedded desktop definitions across all workstations is a largely automated process. Our solution features a migration database and some very clever client software that gives users a much-improved overview of their overall printing options. This robust, unified interface helps end users perform most output management tasks on their own. They are no longer reliant on help desk or admins to maintain and use printers. When they perform scanning functions, the interface can integrate with their own address books, making it easier to share captured documents with co-workers and other business contacts.
This advanced client software can be configured to automatically use local printing (with or without policies and including pull printing) where appropriate and switch to server-based printing when needed. Better yet, both modes utilize the SAME central definitions, which are automatically maintained by the system itself. Printers can be associated with individual users/groups/IP address ranges or workstations and the LRS client software will look after everything else.
From a security standpoint, the news gets better still. Fully integrated Oauth2 and SignalR authentication (in addition to AD and LDAP) means your employees and any of your related business entities, partners, etc. will be able to enjoy a secure and safe printing and scanning experience no matter where the servers or admins are.
These new technologies are a game changer… sophisticated with regard to their capabilities, but straightforward from an administration standpoint. If you’re moving to the Cloud, why bring today’s complexity along for the ride? Contact your local LRS team and we’ll help you get the most out of your new environment.