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Print Server versus Service Client: What’s the Difference?

February 23rd, 2021 by Tom Darnall

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At Function4, we have one overarching mission: to eliminate print servers. They’re a huge pain point for print environments of every shape and size, a resource vortex that devours time, money and effort with very little to show for it. IT departments and help desk staff would have a lot less headache if print servers were a thing of the past.

And that’s the thing—they are. Print servers are a legacy technology. They’ve been superseded by solutions like ours, which unites proven direct-IP printing with modern centralized management. End users enjoy seamless, secure, highly available print capabilities from almost any device. IT admins can easily oversee and control the print environment from a single pane of glass.

Function4 & PrinterLogic is so good at what it does that many folks assume it’s some kind of magical, next-gen print server. But there are fundamental differences in the design and operation of a print server and the PrinterLogic Service Client. Those important differences are what we’re going to examine here.

What is a print server?

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A print server is a device that allows you to share a printer with multiple computers on a network. Its primary function is to funnel the print jobs from those computers into a single, shared print queue. Then it feeds those jobs to the printer one by one.

Simple, right? Ah, not so fast. As always, there are other factors to consider. It’s these added 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 major 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 that compare to the PrinterLogic Service Client?

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First off, the PrinterLogic Service Client is not a physical device. It’s also not responsible for connecting computers to a shared printer or a shared printer queue. In fact, isn’t even responsible for handling PrinterLogic’s core printing functionality.

As its name suggests, the Service Client instead provides powerful print-related capabilities, or services, to end users. These services go above and beyond what print servers can 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

Because Function4 uses a software component, PrinterLogic’s Service Client can be managed from a single web-based portal, the Admin Console, and automatically deployed to end users’ devices. And, unlike a print server, the PrinterLogic service client:

  • 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 con?guration. That speeds up deployment and makes management more efficient.
  • Does not need print drivers to be manually installed. Those are managed in a central repository via the Admin Console.
  • 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

Understanding how Function4's use of PrinterLogic Service Client differs from print servers is also key to understanding what makes our serverless printing infrastructure possible. Basically, not being a print server is how we’re able to eliminate them completely from your print environment.

For Function4, the unique interplay between the PrinterLogic Service Client and the PrinterLogic instance creates our powerful combo of distributed printing and centralized management. It’s why IT admins can easily 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 our cloud-based solution, Function4/PrinterLogic SaaS.

And it’s why we continue to make good on our aim to eliminate print servers. We’re helping IT professionals move beyond legacy print solutions to achieve a secure, easy-to-manage, scalable and robust print environment, one customer at a time.

Interested in eliminating all of your print servers?

At Function4 we deliver a highly available Serverless Printing Infrastructure using a centrally managed Direct IP printing platform. If you want to empower end users with mobile printing, secure release printing, and many advanced features, we’d love to show you how.

Serverless printing is just one quick demo away.

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Posted in: Document Management, Business Technology