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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.