Mobile Printing in Action
By Stephanie Blanchard, Assistant Editor
With BYOD, and the influx of mobile devices into the enterprise, sometimes the last thing on anyone’s mind is printing.
“Everyone talks about going paperless, no one is truly there yet,” said Robert Gravina, Chief Information & Technology Officer, Poway Unified School District, San Diego, CA.
Mobile Enterprise spoke with Gravina regarding his district’s recent deployment of PrintMe Mobile 2.4. The solution provides advanced capabilities for IT to manage its existing print infrastructure. In Poway’s case, a district which serves K-12, it was a question of managing both school deployed tablets and those students chose to bring in.
“It’s not about BYOD, it’s about every kid having technology available to them,” Gravina said. “iPad, iPod, tablet, whatever you have at home, bring it in, let’s use it.” The problem was not what device was being used, but “how can I print from my tablet?”
It was certainly not effective or efficient to email documents for printing at home or another location. In addition, middle and high school students pay for copies using a coin-operated system. A printer solution had to be compatible with that key aspect. If students could print freely, possibly sending hundreds of copies to the laserjets at a time, the district risked wasting valuable school resources.
In seeking a solution, initial inquiries resulted in missing the key: integration with the coin operated payment system. Poway decided upon EFI, as its PrintMe Mobile 2.4 was compatible with VendPrint and CopyVend for the coin operated printers.
After the district purchased 100 licenses, two were assigned to each school. If principals requested more licenses, the individual school was responsible for the additional license fees.
Ready, Set, Print
With the solution in place, a student logs in from their mobile device to Microsoft’s Active Directory Services and selects the printer assigned to them. Students and staff members are organized by groups, with students limited to the pay-per-page printers located in the library. However, jobs can be sent from anywhere within the building or school perimeter.
Administrators can see who is printing via a dashboard which allows users to search, identify, configure, and check the status of hundreds of printers from a central location. Although PrintMe Mobile 2.4 does not censor or control content, the log-in feature does help admins keep tabs should a student print inappropriate material.
Into the Enterprise
When it comes to mobile printing, IT departments are often faced with a challenge, due to multiple OSes and other variables. “Tablets are designed to work on a private network. You’re at home; it’s one router, one printer. I have 12,000 different devices, 250 servers and hundreds of routers over different sites,” Gravina said.
The EFI solution allows printing from any device regardless of OS. In addition, students are printing directly to a network printer but personal devices remain secluded, so they can’t bring malware and viruses into the network.
Although still in the early use stage, PrintMe Mobile is working well enough for the Unified School District that Gravina said his department has showed the solution to at least five other districts in the county, with meetings facilitated by Gartner, the industry research firm.