Mike wilson’s staff at Open text corp. was spending too much time dealing with help-desk calls regarding print driver issues. And with the company’s offices spread out around the world, the centralized IT department, based in Waterloo, Ont., was getting calls at 3 a.m., says Wilson, a senior systems

administrator. Now those calls have, for the most part, gone away.

Instead of installing a driver for every printer the company owned, Open Text decided to install a UniPrint’s server-based printing system. Now, when someone in the U.K. wants to print something, the job is routed to a server in Waterloo, where the corporation’s Citrix server farm resides, converted into a PDF file and spooled back to a printer.

“”It’s done very quickly. You have your print job within seconds, no matter where you’re printing from,”” Wilson says.

No standardization

Though Open Text tries to standardize on Hewlett-Packard printers, it’s not always possible to stick to that policy, as the company is making a lot of acquisitions, he says.

“”Rather than distribute printer drivers and have all the printer drivers installed on the server, we opted for UniPrint, which allows you to install just the UniPrint driver on the server and that takes advantage of mass printer drivers. It’s a more efficient printing metho dology.””

As applications are increasingly becoming more centralized, there is an increased need for centralized printing, Wilson says.

“”The cost savings for us was administrative, you don’t have the help desk dealing with printer driver issues.”” There are fewer calls these days, he says.

The other main advantage, Wilson says, is that the PDF files take up less bandwidth than the files they were sending to be printed.

“”It takes up a lot less network bandwidth than a regular print job,”” he says. “”Definitely an increase in performance was noticed when we went to the UniPrint driver.””

Though it’s a niche market, there is a demand for this type of system, says Ken Weilerstein, the research vice-president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

“”It’s a good niche for an independent software vendor. It’s the kind of thing that companies such as Microsoft or Citrix have let fall through the cracks.””

The system was developed for customers having trouble with server-based printing, says Polly Galita, director of sales and marketing at UniPrint in Toronto.

Compressing files into PDF format is a huge advantage, she says.

It’s not only corporations using terminal servers that are in need of these types of systems, Weilerstein says. Companies offering information over the Web from a centralized application are also searching for similar types of systems. Instead of installing a driver for every printer, companies are looking to systems not unlike the one UniPrint is offering which allows them to convert the material into PDF. “”So they wash their hands. Print means convert to PDF and send PDF to printer.””

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