Centralized vs distributed print models in corporate printing

Centralized vs distributed print models in corporate printing

In the global economy it is becoming increasingly common for companies to print business across multiple geographical locations.

The two strategies are either to use a single centralized print server or to install spooling programs on various distributed application servers throughout the company. Both of these approaches have advantages and disadvantages.

In the centralized print server model the company would simply install the print management software on a single centrally located server available throughout the company.

An advantage of a centralized print server is that it allows a single checkpoint and monitoring of all company print jobs and queues. This model may be simpler as it is a single standard solution that requires less administrator training and fewer printer definitions to maintain.

But while this model offers the only control point one big disadvantage is that it offers a single point of error. This does not just mean that the entire server's shutdown is in the event that the print server crashes or otherwise goes offline but there are also significant concerns about disaster recovery situations. In the event of a disaster in the central print location print operations would be offline for an indefinite period until the site could reset or until another server site could be selected to reinstall and deploy the print solution again.

The benefits of this print server model are that print jobs and queues can be managed locally less dependent on support from central IT and print administrators. Because print requests are done locally the number of print requests and bandwidth used on the central print server exponentially reduces resulting in improved performance and writing time. Finally the distributed print server model offers a degree of inherent redundancy since downtime in a location does not mean that the entire printing process ends.

In the distributed print server model you also lose the centralized control that makes the centralized model so appealing. You also have more printer definitions to keep with the distributed model.

The advantages of these solutions appear to be largely exclusive of each other. However one can benefit from the great benefits that a company would like if they could implement a mixed print management solution that would give the benefits of key print servers that retain fewer printer definitions the ability to print from any location of the company to a corporate printer together with Lower license fees that can be expected with central print management in addition to the benefits of distributed print server software lower traffic and bandwidth requirements on a centralized server higher print efficiency with minimal latency and local print job and print queue control.

To implement a mixed solution a company can try to integrate two separate print management solutions - a centralized print management solution and a distributed solution. However this can prove not only expensive but difficult to perform effectively in the desired functions.

The print management software package however offers hybrid functionality. This solution enables the customer to implement a properly distributed printing environment while retaining the benefits of a centralized installation. In a hybrid output solution the software is installed on a server in each center. Only local queues are defined in each center and require minimal administration and maintenance. The software allows each server to automatically advertise its queues to all other servers on the network with the same software installed. That way all queues are available to all systems even though they are only defined once. The user interface for each installation allows users the right security to display all jobs and printers on the network from a single status screen. System Administration privileges are set to limit the functions performed locally vs. centrally which gives administrators the centralized control that would normally only be found in a centered print server management application.

When a print job is flushed the printer text is searched for on the local server. If the printer is not locally detected the software-enabled server searches the other software-enabled servers for the printer and supplies the print job accordingly. With this feature all printers can be available to all systems. All local jobs are printed locally and ensure efficient use of the network with low latency and high performance.

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