Upper Canada College is the oldest independent school in the province of Ontario. Situated on a 17-hectare campus in the heart of Toronto, UCC has approximately 1,100 students and 350 employees. The school has been around since 1829 but UCC is on the leading edge when it comes to managing networked printers.

As UCC takes steps to become “green,” the school has invested in environmentally friendly products such as 42 cartridge-free Ecosys network printers from Kyocera Mita Canada Ltd., purchased in September 2004 as part of the UCC greening initiative. “We went with Kyocera Mita printers specifically for the ecological value,” said Kelly Ambrose, UCC director of IT. However, the new printers also had to be network ready so they could be managed centrally.

“I can’t imagine not networking them in this day and age,” said Ambrose.

The complexity added to the network is minimal and there are numerous benefits, such as centralized control and management. If a printer problem occurs, IT staff can see what the problem is over the network before sending out a technician. UCC uses Print Manager Plus software to track the number of pages printed by users, including students. The school automatically charges students for any printing over 50 pages per year, with revenue going back into the printing program. The goal is to make students aware of how many copies they need, especially since students can hand in digital copies of most assignments.

UCC worked with a Kyocera Mita reseller, LaserNetworks Inc., to install new printer drivers and to ensure staff knew how to access and use the printers. To budget for total cost of ownership, UCC has a cost per page consumables and service agreement with LaserNetworks. The UCC IT Help Desk is the first line of defence when it comes to troubleshooting problems, but problems are minimal as copy counts are automatically sent by e-mail — another benefit of networked printers — to LaserNetworks “for proactive servicing,” Ambrose said. Although printers, multifunction printers (MFPs) and copiers do not have to be networked, companies and organizations are discovering that it makes sense to do so.

“Absolutely, we are seeing a trend to networking,” said Marco Nalli, marketing manager for Kyocera Mita Canada. All Kyocera Mita printers and copiers can be networked and the company has not sold any analogue copiers for two years, he added. In general, Information Systems (IS) departments have lost control of printers and copiers that were “littered throughout the office.” Centralization gives IT control over the total cost of ownership and liberates real estate by putting the right units in the right places for the right people, said Nalli.

Networking does not add complexity but simplifies peripheral management. Using an application like Kyocera Mita Netviewer, IT can monitor connected devices and produce real time performance snapshots, or outsource monitoring and maintenance to a third party. For instance, if the toner is close to empty, Netviewer can send an e-mail to IT or the service company.

Built-in security features allow IT, in conjunction with department managers, to stipulate who can print to which devices, who can print in colour or black and white, the total number of copies that an individual or department can produce and expense printing and copying to defined cost centres.

“The fact that you can network is a big boon” even though anything you connect to the network adds some degree of complexity, said Charles Dimov, MFP business manager with Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co. (HP). “You have to look at the benefits.”

In the past, users would call IT with printer problems. Technicians would put on their sneakers and run out to troubleshoot. Now with an application such as WebJet Admin (free from HP), a networked printer can send IT alerts about specific problems. IT knows the issue before sending a technician, or might be able to solve the problem remotely. In addition, usage reports can help IT replace a slow printer with a workhorse if required, or save space by replacing several printers with one for departments that do very little printing.

Centralization and e-mail alerts also allow companies to outsource service and maintenance, enabling IT to concentrate on core business issues, Dimov said.

“Networking produces great opportunities to save money in output management areas,” said Glen Munshaw, applications consultant, with Lexmark Canada Inc. However, before opportunities are realized, companies need to take a business-like approach — starting with a full analysis. The Lexmark Discovery Program analysis ranges from a discussion of who within an organization does what with imaging products, to a total workflow assessment — how the entire organization uses imaging products — that helps minimize service costs and maximize productivity.

“Most organizations do not understand the number or type of peripherals they have, as peripherals are generally purchased by individual departments in an ad hoc way,” said Munshaw. They are not shared in a productive or cost-effective manner, nor are they “life-cycled out of the environment.” The devices, attached to desktops and not networked, multiply over time and become costly to service. They may not even be the right device for the department. “Nobody knows this without an analysis,” he said.

Adding devices to the network simplifies life, Munshaw said. Management reports that analyze how much is being printed and who is doing the printing can be automated. Abuse of private desktop fiefdoms — particularly those attached to colour devices — can be eliminated. The number of copies and even access to colour devices, can be controlled, based on a business assessment of imaging needs. “Discovery is the first step and it can help reduce print, copy and fax infrastructure costs by 20 per cent,” said Munshaw.

So while networking peripherals may add a degree of complexity to the network, they can also remove layers of stand-alone, underused or abused imaging devices and give the IT department more control over the cost of, and the support of, computer peripherals.

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