by Martin de Martini | 11/18/15

In the venture investment community, a unicorn is a startup company whose valuation has exceeded $1 billion. Similar to its fairy book meaning – a legendary creature never seen – we are drawn to it in the hopes that it is really true. More often than not, however, something too good to be true is found to be less than promised.

So it seems with the promise of server-less printing. The idea of server-less printing sounds good: no costly servers to purchase, no costly OS licenses and other software licensing, no servers to support, backup, replicate and maintain. Too good to be true, right?

Eliminating dedicated print servers for another kind of server is a clever, albeit somewhat dishonest name change. Yes, organizations can eliminate multiple print servers at every office by centralizing print management – most modern print management solutions support this.

However, print management still requires a server. And for organizations who want fail-over, load balancing and other mechanisms for guaranteed uptime, additional servers are required.

But the valuable point in the myth of server-less printing, is the desire to reduce the costs of print services. What is really needed then, we can all agree, is fewer servers and less expensive servers.

Let’s examine the role a server plays in providing print services in a print management solution. The role of the server is to process the data related to the print jobs, such as:

·         Spooling of print jobs

·         Configuration of print job settings

·         Print roaming (known as follow-me printing)

·         Cost estimations

·         Applying print governance rules, if used

·         Providing job previews

If we look at the value a server brings to providing these print services, we realize that:

·         The most critical and important task, the handling of print data from the PC/laptop to the MFD can be handled at the workstation level utilizing a local print spooler as part of the print management client. In fact, this allows printing to be done when the server is “down.”

·         The server therefore is left to perform only minor, less processing intensive tasks such as storing of data for reporting purposes and user authentication.

With this in mind, it is possible to operate on fewer servers or much lighter-weight servers; ones that do not require expensive licensing, maintenance and support. Just doing the math, one can calculate the costs saved when using fewer or less expensive servers.

However, not all organizations are alike. Some organizations may not issue workstations for employees as they operate only using mobile devices. Or, some organizations may already have invested in servers and wish to utilize existing infrastructure to add more users or more functionality. Finally, some organizations may want a combination of light weight servers and more robust servers.

We believe the right approach is a print management solution whose architecture is flexible to meet those of large organizations and small to medium sized businesses no matter what their requirements or infrastructure. The adage “one-size-does-not-fit-all” applies. But we take very seriously our customer’s desire for lower-cost solutions through an approach that uses fewer servers and lighter weight devices – we believe it is possible.

However, like unicorns, leprechauns and the idea that if you put more people on a project it will go faster, server-less printing is a myth. Since running a smart business requires real, reliable technology, customers deserve to know how solutions work in clear terms and not in fancy marketing buzzwords.

Martin de Martini is Y Soft Vice President, Transition Management. You can reach Martin at martin.deMartini@ysoft.com.