Print Spooler Service Did Not Respond In A Timely Fashion Centralized vs. Distributed Print Models in Enterprise Printing

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Centralized vs. Distributed Print Models in Enterprise Printing

In a global economy, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to need corporate printing in multiple geographic locations. When a company begins to research the advanced printing solutions on the market, they will soon find that there are two different (if not polar) schools of thought regarding the strategy of implementing advanced printing software.

Two strategies are to use a single centralized print server or to install spooling software on different application servers throughout the enterprise. Both of these methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Centralized Print Server Model

In the centralized print server model, the company will only install the print management software on a single central server that is accessible throughout the company.

One benefit of a centralized print server is that it allows for a single point of control and monitoring of all corporate print jobs. This model can be simpler because it is a single standard solution, requiring minimal administrator training and fewer printer definitions to maintain. Because this is a single standard solution rather than a solution that needs to be installed on multiple servers, it has the potential to save a company money with lower software license fees.

However, while this model offers a single point of control, a major drawback is that it offers a single point of failure. Not only does this mean company-wide downtime in the event of a print server failure or otherwise being offline, but there are also significant concerns about disaster recovery situations. In the event of a disaster at the central print location, the company’s print services will be offline indefinitely until the location is restored or until a different server location is selected to reset and redeploy the print solution.

This seems like a significant enough limitation in itself, but the centralized print server model also involves a loss of autonomy at the local print site level, where administrators do not have the ability to manage local queues and print jobs. At the same time, the implementation of a centralized printing solution requires many hops on the network, consumes valuable bandwidth and increases the relative delay of printing times.

Distributed Print Server Model

The distributed print server model, on the other hand, is installed in multiple locations throughout the enterprise—or on the scale of multiple local print servers to an installation on every client workstation throughout the enterprise.

The benefits of this print server model are that print jobs and queues can be controlled locally, with less reliance on support from central IT and print administrators. Because print requests are made locally, the amount of print request traffic and bandwidth used on the central print server is dramatically reduced, resulting in better performance and improved printer response time. Finally, the distributed print server model offers a degree of flexibility because downtime at one location does not mean the end of print processes across the enterprise.

However, the benefits of the distributed print server model are controlled by the additional cost to the enterprise. Multiple installations will mean multiple software license fees, which increases the cost of the initial installation and increases the cost of the software on the servers with license renewal fees. Increasing the number of different installations will also increase the cost of training and maintaining the skills of IT staff in the software.

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

Decision, decision

The advantages of these solutions are largely mutually exclusive. However, significant advantages can be gained by a company if it can implement a complex print management solution that will provide the benefits of centralized print servers (maintenance of fewer printer definitions, the ability to print from any location in the company to a company printer, with license fees of less than one would expect with centralized print management) with the benefits of distributed print server software (low traffic and bandwidth requirements on a central server, high print performance with minimal latency, and local print job and print queue control).

To implement a complex solution, a company can try to integrate two different print management solutions – one centralized print management solution and one distributed solution. However, this can prove not only costly, but difficult to implement effectively in the desired functions.

However, there are print management software packages that offer hybrid functionality. This solution allows customers to implement a truly distributed print environment while maintaining the advantages of a centralized installation. They have fewer printer definitions to maintain, an enterprise view of jobs/orders, a single standard solution, less administrator training, and lower licensing fees.

Among these multi-functional models is Plus Technologies’ OM Plus V2 software. In a hybrid output solution, the software is installed on a server at each location. Only local regulations are specified in each center (requires minimal management and maintenance). The software gives each server the ability to automatically “advertise” its queues to all other servers on the network with the same software installed. This way, all rows are available to all systems even though they are specified only once. Each installation’s user interface allows users (with appropriate security) to view all jobs and printers on the network from a single status screen. System management features are set up to limit functions that can be performed locally versus centrally, providing administrators with the centralized control that one would normally only find in a centralized print server management program.

When a print job is submitted, the printer definition is found on the local server. If the printer is not found locally, then the software-enabled server searches for other software-enabled printer servers and supplies the print job accordingly. This function makes all printers available to all systems. All local jobs are printed locally which ensures efficient use of the network with low latency and high performance.

With this particular software, the license fees are reduced because the license price is reduced based on the number of rows installed on each server. Therefore, only minor licenses are required locally. This means that the number of rounds and the corresponding price has remained low. Such a print management tool provides a true distributed print management solution that eliminates redundant printer definitions across the enterprise, while allowing printing to both local and remote server printers.

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