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Why IT's appetite for onsite print server management is dwindling

by Ken Weilerstein
Today, enterprises need to use as much of their IT resources as possible to help with mission-critical business and revenue-building opportunities. All too often however, IT wastes valuable time and money overseeing print operations. The answer is to eliminate local print servers. If you’re undecided, take a look at some of the ways that an on-premises print infrastructure taxes company resources:

Print server setup and breakdown

To stay competitive, businesses are constantly evolving — relocating print servers during renovations, company expansions and other business changes is not uncommon. Plus, during periods of expedited business growth, new print servers have to be introduced.

Consider some of the tasks involved every time IT employees set up a print server:

  • Manual installation and configuration
  • Software uploads
  • Setting up users in Windows® Server print environments

To help reduce the work of setting up and breaking down print servers, enterprises often choose to consolidate their print servers to a data center. Centralized data centers may free up some IT resources, but they also make it difficult for IT employees with print expertise to handle maintenance issues that data center employees can’t. In addition, when users issue print jobs, these jobs are sent out to the data center and then back to the print device — this can constitute a long trip through less than optimal connections, resulting in long waits for print jobs. And if the power in the data center goes out, everyone has to scramble.

Whether your print servers are located on-premises, in a data center or both, IT employees have to devote time to ongoing maintenance, and they often take a reactive approach. With the poor visibility into printer performance that comes with many on-premises print infrastructures, IT employees are often forced to wait until maintenance issues occur to service equipment — leading to more lost productivity than would result from a proactive approach.


The high cost of a local print infrastructure

Finding ways to reduce overhead costs is just good business, especially when reducing costs makes a company more agile. Take a look at some of the many operational and capital expenses associated with an internal print infrastructure:

  • Software licensing
  • Installation fees
  • Print server leases or purchases
  • Real estate and storage
  • Networking equipment
  • Security protocols and patches
  • Data center infrastructure and utilities
  • Backup and recovery costs
  • Incident management
  • Labor and personnel

Print-related management and administrative hours alone can distract your IT workforce from more pressing strategic activities — not to mention the cost of up-front hardware and software purchases. In addition to those listed above, other costs include workflow interruptions due to downtime, the inability to easily scale up during growth spurts, overtime costs, legal fees — the list goes on. Yet, IT departments ignore these costly downsides, and continue to invest in print servers, data centers and other internal print infrastructure.

According to Gartner, “the main obstacle to a more widespread printer server elimination is that most enterprises are unwilling to tamper with the basic Windows Server printing functionality and are lacking market awareness of the solutions.”1 Whether or not you are undecided about outsourcing print server management, it is clear that after weighing the costs of an on-premises print infrastructure, a plan should be put into place.

RICOH Print Platform Cloud Service may be exactly what you need to help reduce the burden of print management and free up IT to focus on more value-driven business. Plus, our scalable, fully-managed cloud environment offers an easy-to-manage, monthly per-user subscription fee.

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Ken Weilerstein, Advanced Services Strategy Senior Manager, Managed Print Services, Ricoh USA Inc., joined Ricoh in 2017, bringing 32 years of experience in the IT and imaging industries. He is responsible for Ricoh’s Advanced Services domain for MPS. Ken recently led Gartner’s research on Managed Print Services and Managed Content Services, and advised the company’s 15,000 end user clients on MPS and office printer management. As analyst, VP Research and agenda manager at Gartner, Ken authored reports for printer manufacturers on how to grow and shape their MPS and service portfolios. He also published reports for end users on MPS, such as the Magic Quadrant for Managed Print and Content Services, and on software and technology trends. He presented at Gartner’s Symposia, and launched and hosted Gartner’s Print and Imaging Summit. Ken also spoke to an average of three end-user clients daily.

1"Hype Cycle for Imaging and Print Services, 2017." Gartner, Inc. August 2, 2017.