Printer Drivers: The Fewer the Better

printer drivers dinosaur

Printer drivers are some of the remaining IT dinosaurs.

Company data centers are changing. Increasingly, cloud infrastructures also play a role and are combined with company-specific data centers. What does all this have to do with printing and printer drivers? In part one of this article series I was talking about “IT (and printing as part of that) is a service, services are not run on user’s devices”.

In this article I want to focus on printer drivers.

Printer drivers are some of the remaining IT dinosaurs. They are large, they are complex, they don’t play nice amongst each other and are resistant to change. But since printing is a critical business process they also can’t go extinct. But they can be managed and given a dedicated space within the private cloud that is built to suit their needs and eccentricities to best utilize their strength.

If drivers were to reside on each physical desktop, IT would need to find, test, deploy and maintain one driver for each version of OS that exists in the environment. That’s a Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 driver, one driver for MacOS 10.8, 10.9 and 10.10 for each printer that exists in the environment.

IT would also have to find a way to deploy these drivers since installation of printer drivers usually requires admin rights. Every time a printer is switched for a newer model, a configuration changes or a user has new requirements because of a new role or assignment IT has to deploy these changes to every user, desktop and workstation that may need access to this printer.

The more drivers are installed on a desktop or workstation the higher the chances that there’s a conflict between them that makes the desktop or workstation unstable or crash leaving the user unproductive while their machine is repaired.

For those using remote or virtual desktops, especially dynamically allocated or non-persistent ones, there are few alternatives to having all the drivers on those desktops.

This is true unless they deploy a proper private cloud print solution because each desktop is not tied to a particular user and their printing needs. Without a proper private cloud print solution, all drivers for the entire environment have to be present on each desktop making the desktop images large and greatly increasing the risk of conflicts between drivers. The other alternative is to copy drivers from a print server. This however, at several hundred MB per driver, adds a huge amount of data that needs to be sent on the network and processed on the desktop servers at a time when they are already processing huge workloads: e.g. when users come to start their work day. The last resort would be to re-direct printing to the user’s workstation but that would eliminate the use of thin clients and immediately introduce all the issues described that come with managing a large fleet of workstations all over the environment.

There is a solution with ThinPrint Engine: All drivers are set up, tested and maintained on the private cloud server (or servers for high availability) running ThinPrint Engine. They are represented by a universal interface on both virtual and physical desktops and workstations. This universal interface can adapt to the various features available for each printer and present them to the users. It also eliminates copying and installing any drivers for the entire environment. Deploying printers has never been easier.

Henning Volkmer Avatar
Henning Volkmer
Henning Volkmer is the president and CEO of Cortado, Inc., driving the execution of the company's strategy as the leading innovator across print management, enterprise mobility, and improved collaboration for teams. He has established a broad technological background and has been at the forefront of technology trends for the past seventeen years. In addition to holding various positions within the Cortado group, Henning Volkmer served as part of a project team focused on reducing costs in the network infrastructure division with what is now Nokia. Under Volkmer's direction, ThinPrint brand has increased its lead as the premier print management software, while Cortado brand has become recognized as a pioneer business solution, shaping the future of the cloud desktop. Originally from Berlin, Germany, Henning currently resides in Denver, CO and spends his time away from work with friends and family, traveling or exploring restaurants.