Most of you are familiar with the popular expression that “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” The phrase basically means that you cannot have (keep/retain) your cake and eat it at the same time because once the cake is eaten, well, it’s no longer there to have. It is similar to other expressions such as “you can’t have it both ways.” But is that really true?
When it comes to output management, you can deploy a hybrid print architecture that really does let you have it both ways. What ways are those, you ask? With a single, centralized output management server, you can deploy both server-based (spooled) printing and “Direct IP printing” to satisfy the diverse requirements of business applications and users across a global enterprise, while eliminating all of your traditional Windows print servers in the process.
What’s a “hybrid?” What’s the benefit?
These days, the word “hybrid” gets batted around a lot, but it’s not a new concept (hybrids have been around for hundreds of years, especially in the field of agriculture). The idea is to take the characteristics of two different things, combine them in an intelligent manner, such that the end product is better than the two originals. For example, a hybrid automobile has a small, fuel efficient engine that can move the car down the highway for many hundreds of miles at a very low cost. But such a tiny engine wouldn’t provide acceptable acceleration from a stoplight. So the engineers pack in an electric motor with loads of torque to provide sufficient “oomph,” along with enough battery to travel short distances on electric power alone. Result? The best of both worlds – excellent efficiency and ample performance, all in a very flexible package.
What’s that got to do with printing? To better appreciate the business value of a hybrid print architecture, it is important to understand the typical print requirements of large enterprises. In many organizations, the majority of printing comes from users that create documents from a variety of personal computing devices such as traditional and virtual desktops, laptops/notebooks, tablets and smartphones. Some of these users work in large office environments while others work in remote, branch offices or from home.
Because of network topology and bandwidth considerations, it makes sense to deploy a Direct IP print solution for remote locations to minimize WAN traffic, improve printer throughput, and eliminate the need for a local print server. This Direct IP printing solution must also support important capabilities like auditing/tracking of user print activity, automated print driver management, mobile and pull-printing, and a self-service portal that lets users easily locate and connect to a printer.
However, large enterprises also have mission-critical business applications that employees, partners, and customers depend on every day. These applications run on a variety of server platforms and create documents that must be delivered to the required hardcopy and softcopy destinations in the correct format. Failure is simply not an option.
Since printing plays a key role in many business processes, a server-based print architecture is required to support important capabilities such as dynamic data transforms, retention of print files, rerouting of documents to an alternate printer, and providing IT staff with end-to-end visibility of the entire printing process. This requires a reliable, high-performance print spool, ideally running on a central server to minimize complexity.
This centralized server also insulates upstream applications from the complexities of downstream document distribution. It decouples many functions from the application and moves them into a device and platform-independent service layer, which simplifies and expedites the delivery of new services without requiring application changes. This lets applications focus on content creation and enables you to change the appropriate delivery format and destination at any time.
Room to grow
With a hybrid print architecture, you can start small and expand the solution over time to deliver greater business value. This is done by adopting a holistic solution for print infrastructure and output management; one that provides consistent functions, service levels and user experience across the entire enterprise. This also drives standardization and simplification of your IT infrastructure, which reduces cost, increases employee productivity, and improves agility.
Without an output management solution that supports a hybrid print architecture, no single vendor is able to provide centralized management and control across all applications, platforms, print devices, and locations in your enterprise. Many print management vendors only offer a Direct IP printing solution for document delivery, which does not help companies address printing from their business applications.
Give LRS a call. We understand the complex print requirements of large enterprise environments, and our solution supports a hybrid print architecture. We’ll show you how you can have your cake and eat it too. We’ll even bring the plates and forks. Doesn’t get any better than this.