Serverless, High Availability and Pull Printing

by | Jan 19, 2018 | Cost Reduction, High Availability, Serverless Pull Printing, ZeroServer | 0 comments

Back in 2012 Celiveo received a call from a printer vendor telling them:

A large multinational company who has many, any sites, wants a MFP access control and pull print solution that does not rely on any server, fully works even if WAN connections are down and by the way it must ensure nobody prints emails in color…

The size of the project? Well, around 9000 printers and MFPs used in 9 countries in Europe and Latin America, over around 980 sites. For such a deal you can imagine all printer vendors and integrator were on the starting line, ready to show their best technology.

The Tender Phase

While Celiveo was very busy working on that requirement, printer vendors were working hard to find how to answer those specifications, and we can say they have been very creative. The client finally made a short list with three vendors, that we will name A, B and C, from the least to the most expensive. In June he called vendor A for a POC (Proof of Concept) to verify the compliance of the overall solution with the specifications.

Vendor A: the cheapest-ever solution is by far the most expensive option

Vendor A proposed solution E performing user authentication, pull-printing, rules based printing and tracking/reporting and claimed High Availability capability. Well, that could have made it except that there was one PC running the solution and two of those PC were needed on each site to provide WAN fault tolerance.

Can you remove the one or two PC from each branch without losing high-availability, rules based printing and fault tolerance?

No, but looks at our solution price, it is 30% cheaper than other solutions, and with multiple servers we can provide High Availability, that’s a no-brainer…

Thank you for your Proof of Concept and the “low price”, but it does not meet our RFP specs, we will now evaluate the next vendor…
The reason for the client decision: 980 site, each having one or two servers (or even more for fault tolerance), represents a direct cost, on top of the print cost and the solution cost, between $5M and $10M per year just for the print infrastructure! Furthermore the offer did not even cover basic High Availability requirement such as being able to authenticate to make a copy if the LAN is down.

Vendor B: an innovative approach, but not the one that was expected…

Vendor B was called for his Proof of Concept the following month. But after hearing about the failure of Vendor A, vendor B came up with a very innovative offer:

You want no solution server and to control usage of color? Forget about the solution, with us you get color pages at the same low price as Black & White pages!

Is that all you have to propose?

Our cost per page is probably at least 20% cheaper than any of our competitors, you won’t find a better offer…

Thank you for your proposal, but it does not address our pain point nor does it meet the tender requirements, we will then evaluate the last-in-row vendor…
What vendor B oversaw is that the print infrastructure cost roughly 10 time more than printing itself. Vendor B could have given away printing for free, that would have been too costly to the customer.

Vendor C: Celiveo ZeroServer in action

Vendor C is the one who contacted Celiveo when the tender was issued. By the time the customer asked vendor C for a Proof Of Concept the solution was fully ready with user authentication, pull printing, serverless rules-based-printing and tracking, all that without any application or print server and with High Availability.
The POC went smoothly, tests were done by disconnecting MFPs from the network, authenticating with the badge to make copies or fax, connecting back the MFPs but disconnecting the LAN from the corporate SQL server (in data-center) then trying to authenticate, print emails in color, perform pull printing. Each case worked as expected by the client. The live pilot started on 3 sites for 2 months and the Celiveo team helped since the outsourcing company that was charging the customer since years for the 1000+ print servers was not really collaborating… After the pilot the worldwide deployment happened and 6 years later the savings counter still grows very quickly…


High Availability and ZeroServer make the cost per page virtually irrelevant, it is so low compared to the cost of the print infrastructure. Companies vastly underestimate the cost of servers and the recent release of a server calculator by Microsoft is a very good news for companies ( Celiveo has released a TCO and ROI calculator that will also help clients to understand the deep financial impact of servers, failures and support (