SEH Takes Print Load Off Windows Servers

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Spooling print jobs in the enterprise chews up clock cycles and devours system resources. SEH offers an appliance to shift the burden off busy servers.

Surprisingly, very little thought is given to processing print jobs these days. After all, network operating systems all natively handle print spooling and make sharing printer resources a snap. While that may sound like a good thing, managing print jobs can be a resource-intensive process for a server, especially in a busy enterprise. What’s more, today’s servers may live in data centers miles away from that local shared printer, creating a double penalty of distance and resource use, which adds up to a very inefficient process.

SEH is aiming to ban those inefficiencies with a line of intelligent spooling devices called spool servers. SEH offers several different spool servers, ranging from the ISD300 meant for workgroups to the ISD410, which is designed for enterprises needing management and spooling for hundreds of printers.

The idea behind the spool servers is simple—move all network printing chores to a dedicated appliance that combines advanced management with ease of use to build a centralized print solution.

All of SEH’s spooling devices can perform double duty as a "ThinPrint" Gateway, which receives compressed spool data from a centralized print server. The goal with a ThinPrint gateway is to reduce the amount of bandwidth that printing requires, especially over long-distance broadband connections. ThinPrint technology compresses printing jobs and delivers those jobs to the remote device, which then decompresses the data for local printing.

We took a closer look at the ISD300 to see what was involved in setting the device up, how well it integrates into a Windows network and how easy it is to use. The ISD300 is available in a number of versions, each of which functions the same, but offers slightly different capabilities. SEH offers the standard ISD300, a unit that uses an SSD hard drive (ISD300-SSD) and a device that supports power over Ethernet (ISD300-POE).

The ISD300 connects to the network using Ethernet or Fast Ethernet and is managed via a browser-based interface. The unit features an LCD panel on the front and a couple of navigation buttons, which makes it easy to set the IP address and other network settings used.

Once the unit has a valid IP address, all setup chores and management take place via a browser-based console. Initial programming of the device proves to be pretty straightforward; the ISD300 has the ability to detect all of the existing network printers and automatically configure print queues. In new networks, the auto-detect and wizard-driven nature of the device speeds things up, making installation almost a no-brainer for most technicians.

Established networks will need a little more work, mostly removing old print queues, changing settings on desktops and servers, as well as integrating the ISD300 with Active Directory, where applicable. Once the basic configuration is accomplished, administrators can drill down into other settings, ranging from job scheduling to user security to job management options.

Users will find the product very intuitive. The Web-based console makes it easy to control jobs, request multiple copies, schedule when jobs should print, store jobs for later output and so on. Advanced capabilities include the creation of "copy queues," which allow a print job to simultaneously print on multiple printers, as well as auto rerouting print queues, if the selected printer is down.

Usability benefits aside, the ISD300 offers another advantage—the ability to reduce server loads by as much as 40 percent. SEH claims in busy environments, print jobs can tax servers and increase utilization rates some 40 percent.

The ISD300 has an MSRP of $1,495. The company offers a partner program for certified resellers that offer margins as high as 25 percent. Street prices on the ISD300 run at about $1,300.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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