Windows Print Servers Part Deux: There’s no Free Lunch
"To complicate is easy. To simplify is difficult." — Bruno Munari
As I mentioned in a recent Blog article, there are numerous reasons why Windows Print Servers seem to pop up in even well-managed enterprise networks like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Perhaps the biggest reason is lack of focus on the big picture. While taking a surplus Windows machine from one department and re-using it as a “free” print server in another, administrators often overlook the hidden costs. Like the proverbial frogs in a saucepan… IT staff often fail to notice the problem until it’s too late.
Complexity = Cost
No one adds print servers to increase costs in their organizations; in the moment, it just seems like an expedient way to handle ever-increasing amounts of print traffic. But over time, smart administrators realize the opposite is true. For example, there is the matter of updating print drivers in Windows or in the business applications. When doing such updates, each individual server will need to be checked. The more servers, the more complexity.
Secondly, there is the troubleshooting element. Imagine an administrator gets a report of a print failure. Is the error coming from the source application, from the printer, or from a server? If it is a server error, which server needs attention? Take the time required to troubleshoot this problem and multiply it by the number of print servers in your environment. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money. Or a real savings opportunity.
How real, you ask?
One of our customers reported over half a million dollars in savings related to time spent managing the print environment and troubleshooting printing problems. As mentioned in my previous article, this customer saved nearly a hundred thousand Euros (or $119,000) just by removing 12 print servers. But in reality, the total savings was €460,900. How? By eliminating the print servers, they also saw a reduction of helpdesk calls (€50,400), reduced admin time for managing print queues (€154,500) and reduced cost for printer management on user workstations (€156,000). These cost savings are not rarities. These are the numbers that our customers typically report after implementing LRS software.
So do we really need print servers? Can we print without them? Well, yes and no. You need print servers unless you have a reliable solution in place that manages printing (all of your printing, from every platform, not just Windows desktop printing). Something like our VPSX Enterprise solution, which provides a central point of control for all output, from any application to any destination. As one of our larger healthcare customers puts it:
They [LRS] take all these complicated printing activities and they wrap them up into an interface that is easy to use. We don't have Windows print servers anymore for our EMR printing. It is all is wrapped up in the LRS product. This is a lot of complexity that is just made much simpler. - Don Fosen, Edward-Elmhurst Hospital
Again, it is not our place to tell you what your print environment should look like. We can, however, greatly reduce the complexity by adding a single middle layer that manages printing from any source to any destination. There are advantages and savings to be had, but only you can determine how well they apply to your network landscape.
If you would like more information on how much you can save by optimizing your IT infrastructure, please have a look at our case studies or our testimonials section. I’ve shared two of those testimonials already, but there are many more satisfied customers who enjoy having full control over printing within their organization. Some saved thousands of dollars, others saved millions. But what they all have in common is that on any given day, LRS software is working in the background to keep business processes going. If you haven’t already done so, perhaps someday soon you will join them!