As is usually the case, the subjects of my blogs tend to correlate with situations currently being seen in a client’s environment. Recently, we have had more than one client with printing issues in their environments. The problems range from driver issues to an applications ability to recognize a user’s printers. In each case, we tried to handle the situation using the built-in tools within the Citrix products to resolve our issues. Do not get me wrong, I think the current set of printing utilities Citrix offers for their products is some of the best built-in solutions we have had. However, we still had issues they could not resolve. So, it was time to turn to a third party product. As the title implies, we tested Tricerat’s Simplify Printing product. I know this is starting to sound like a product endorsement, and in a way, it is. However, my intention is to share a solution to various printing problems we faced. To be fair, I am not saying that Simplify Printing is the only solution out there, but I have been using Tricerat’s products for years and it is one of my go-to solutions.
As I was saying, I am writing about this because of recent events. So, let’s take a look at those events.
Problem 1 – Solution – Tricerat ScrewDrivers
At the first client, we had a situation where users worked from a XenApp/XenDesktop environment, but would travel to multiple company sites. They needed to print at each site while accessing a virtual desktop back in the data center. Users needed to have multiple printers for multiple sites. Just assigning all the printers to the users did not work. Typically, the user would forget which printer was defaulted and send items to the wrong printers. Our original solution was to assign printers based on IP address of the client. The problem we ran into was that the number of printers at each site made it an administrative nightmare to work printer assignments/policies at an individual user level. Simplify Printing has a utility that allows the user to assign the printers that they need for themselves. Each printer in each location has its active directory name labeled where the users know to look. The Simplify Printing utility is a published application the user can open and select the printer they need. All they had to do was look at the name label and find the printer in the list. This did take a little bit of user training, but once the users got used to this process, calls to IT for printer problems dropped to almost none. There were other benefits from the installation of Simplify Printing. The product handled all the print drivers. We no longer have printer drivers in the Citrix environment for all of those various printers. The Citrix environment no longer had to fully process print jobs which saved on system resources. External users had a better printing experience once they installed the Tricerat ScrewDrivers client because all the features of the local printer were now available to them.
Issue 2 – Solution – Tricerat Simplify
At another client, a law firm, the issues started in the XenApp environment. However, Simplify Printing was not implemented at the Citrix level. It was implemented at the domain level so all printer functions in the environment, not just the ones in Citrix, are handled by Simplify Printing. The original issue involved printers needing to be assigned based on user groups. However, just because a user was in a group, that did not mean they had the right to use all the printers the group had assigned. For instance there are users in the Marketing group that need to be in the group, but do not need rights to Marketing’s color multifunction printer. Citrix policies helped, but they got out of hand. Also, as stated before, this issue was not just at the Citrix level. The dashboard in Simplify printing made it easier to assign printing rights while also controlling exclusions. Assignments made at the domain level were inherited in the Citrix environment as well. It literally became an administrative matter of drag and drop to control printer assignments/permissions.
At a third client, we had an industry specific, third party application, which also had company specific modifications. The handling of printers in this application is archaic in my opinion and does not follow proper conventions. We also had extremely limited control over it. Built-in Citrix printing utilities could not give the application what it wanted because of how printers were named for user sessions. A script created by one of the administrators was a semi-viable solution, but still had issues. Simplify Printing’s custom naming allowed us to get a modification in the app to make the user’s printers recognizable. This is another location where Simplify Printing will soon be used for all printer assignments in the domain. They are also looking into another Tricerat product called Simplify Scanning to help with their scanning needs.
In some cases, it was a matter of trial and error to get to where we wanted to be. We even needed help from Tricerat support to get things just right. However, that is not a dig on the product. We just had some tricky situations to resolve. I am going to do a little more shameless endorsement and tell you that the support team really cared that they find a solution for us.
As stated earlier, Simplify Printing is not Tricerat’s only product. Besides printing and scanning, they have products that handle monitoring, profiles, clipboard sharing, and backup. They also offer their products in a bundle called the Simplify Suite. I have not had the opportunity to use each and every one of their products in production environments, but the scanning and profile management products are also go-to solutions for me.
As always, please feel free to post any questions or comments below or reach me directly by email.
Craig R. Kalty
(CCIA, CCEE, CCA, MCITP:EA, MCITP:SA, VCP)
Sr. Network Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org
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