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Every day, in organizations around the world, employees and management staff print countless documents they need to do their jobs. However, few (if any) of these people actually know how the print data makes its way from the originating application to the device where they retrieve the document.

Somewhere between the user’s application and the destination printer, there are usually one or more print servers. These are computers or virtual machines normally managed behind the scenes by data center staff. But what do they do?

Print servers isolate business applications from the burden of directly managing the flow of information to the physical print device. There are many advantages to this. For example, a user can print even when the target device is offline or has a printer jam. Instead of tying up the user’s workstation with error messages, the print server maintains the print data in its queue until the printer comes back online. In the meantime, users are free to go back to doing their jobs.

A print server can also retain a copy of a given document for a period of time. This is handy in cases where the user (or someone in the compliance department, for example) wants to reprint the document at a later time without going back into the application and resubmitting the print job.

Using a central print server, it is possible to convert or modify document data before sending it to the print device. For example, documents printed in a development environment can be formatted with a watermark that says “TEST” to prevent employees from unwittingly shipping products that were never actually ordered. (Don’t laugh – it happens more often than you think. How would you like to be the one who has to call a customer and tell them to ignore the huge shipment of construction equipment you sent to their job site by mistake?)

A central print server gives help desk staff the ability to easily identify and address interruptions in print delivery. Here, every document from every application on every platform can be managed from a single point of control, regardless of whether it originated in an SAP application, on the mainframe, UNIX, Linux, or a Windows machine. The help desk can manage all of this output and more from a single web-based interface.

Print management is one area in which “less is more.” Instead of installing and maintaining many print servers from a variety of manufacturers, companies can greatly benefit from establishing a single, centralized print server. In addition to reducing the amount of hardware to purchase and maintain, eliminating redundant print servers makes IT staff more productive and reduces overall complexity.

A single server print management solution, or even a serverless printing solution, frees application servers from the burden of printing without burdening the IT department with a lot of redundant infrastructure to maintain. For more information, contact the printing experts at LRS and learn how your organization can streamline your printing systems.

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