Server-Based Managed Print Solutions Reduce Overhead

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Part of the information supply chain of a company must be put into hard copy through a network of printers which must be identified and their output tracked as commands, corrections, and cancellations of print jobs goes on all day. The data must be tracked and analyzed in order to increase efficiency and lower the cost of materials. Tracking on the printer or fax machine itself would be the method for small numbers of devices. Workstation tracking has more application availability but is only compatible mainly with Windows and occasionally with Macintosh workstations, but not Linux or UNIX based desktops. For this and reasons of cost administration, the future lies with server based print management and tracking.

Some use the direct IP model where each workstation prints directly to a networked output device using TCP/IP only. This eliminates the need to deploy, maintain and support print servers. Network discovery tools let users identify and locate available devices. The data that would be valuable for cost-cutting is limited however because there are less accurate figures due the inability to confirm that print commands have actually been printed and how much color ink was used in relation to black and white. This is important because color ink cost between 5 - 10 times more than black and white. Measuring the total printing costs on a large scale would be impossible without accurate figures.

Server-based printing outsources the management of your printer fleet that can provide a simplified end-user experience and a better strategy to reduce overhead. Drivers are installed once on the server and automatically updated on each workstation; access control gives security by naming specific users and times allowed for access.

One good example in the IT market is the HP Output Server solution, selected for use by German software giant SAP in their overall business management package. This partnership allows SAP to extend service to the enormous customer base of the hardware giant HP. Hewlett-Packard has overtaken IBM in gross revenues by being the first IT corporation to exceed $100 billion, that being in 2008 after the acquisition of EDS which resulted in revenues of $188.4 billion.

Office printing is estimated to use up 1% to 3% of a company's annual revenue so all efforts to streamline this overhead should be taken. It's a good idea to consolidate from multiple vendors; different models have different print drivers and user interfaces that have to be updated each time Microsoft updates their operating systems.

In addition to providing accurate measurement for cost-cutting, server-managed printer networks enable a company to reduce its carbon footprint. Printers use a lot of electricity because they use heat to bind the ink to the paper so a company can reduce power usage by putting the systems in standby mode during slow periods. Servers can help leverage two-sided printing to cut down on paper.

Reducing the cost of supplies, service, and support is greatly aided by servers but the biggest impact is on the overall productivity of employees: they won't be distracted by malfunctions or printers that are out of paper, the IT department can be freed from calls to repair mechanical devices so they can work on security and software, and preventative maintenance can be put in place along with a supply restocking program so that the printer fleet will be up and running on a consistent basis.

Pat Boardman is a Toronto SEO consultant writing in respect to CELL-A-NET HP Printer Maintenance in Ontario, who provide Managed Print Solutions for the GTA, Mississauga, and Burlington region.

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