Print Server versus Service Client: What’s the Difference?
Are print servers really necessary anymore? Print servers are a huge pain point for those who manage them. They are a resource vortex that devours time, money and resources with minimal reward. IT departments and help desk team members would have fewer headaches if print servers were obsolete.
Print servers are a dated legacy technology. They’ve been surpassed by other, more relevant solutions like those that unite direct-IP printing with modern centralized management. As a result, end-users enjoy seamless, secure, and highly available print capabilities from any device. IT admins easily view and control the print environment from a single view.
There are fundamental differences in the design and operation of a print server and emerging server clients. To understand this, it’s necessary to know the basics of print servers.
What is a print server?
A print server is a device that allows printer sharing with multiple computers on a network. A print server’s primary function is to channel the print jobs from those computers into a single, shared print queue. From there, it feeds jobs to the printer one by one.
It’s more complicated than it sounds. The list below explains the complexities that make print servers cumbersome, labor-intensive, and unreliable.
- Deployment: Physical print servers have to be rolled out individually and on-prem.
- Configuration: Each print server has to be painstakingly set up for its print microenvironment (e.g., users, printers).
- Print drivers: As the crucial software interface between clients and printers, drivers can be a significant source of instability.
- Print services: These are the printing capabilities that are made available to the computers. They can vary significantly from device to device.
- Operating system: Whatever operating system the print server uses has to be licensed, maintained, and updated.
- Hardware: Like software, print server hardware has purchase costs, maintenance costs, and upgrade costs.
How does this compare to other options?
A modern solution is not a physical device. It’s also not something responsible for connecting computers to a shared printer or queue.
Ideal solutions provide powerful print-related capabilities, or services, to end-users. These benefits go above and beyond what traditional print servers offer. They include:
- Simple badge release and offline print release
- Mobile, BYOD, and off-network printing
- PrinterLogic Control Panel Application (CPA) integration
- Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) support
A software component can be managed from a single web-based portal and automatically deployed to end users’ devices. Also, unlike a print server, a software print-based service:
- Does not create a single shared queue for a particular printer. This minimizes common print queue errors and increases print security.
- Does not require any kind of server hardware, OS, or manual conﬁguration. That speeds up deployment and makes management more efficient.
- It does not need print drivers to be manually installed. Those are managed in a central repository via the Admin Console and deployed dynamically to users based on an array of deployment parameters.
- Does not connect printers to client computers over the network. That’s done separately by the PrinterLogic instance.
The basis for a serverless printing infrastructure
The interplay between a software client and associated support systems creates a powerful combo of distributed printing and centralized management. So, IT admins can quickly deploy printers and apply profiles across the enterprise without resorting to scripts or GPOs. It’s also why end-users can still print as usual when the WAN connection goes down, even with cloud-based solutions.
And some companies are adamant that eliminating physical print servers is the best solution. Moving beyond legacy print solutions can achieve a secure, easy-to-manage, scalable, and robust print environment.
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