Replacing Discontinued or Unsupported Print Spool Management SoftwareMay 4, 2020
A company’s day-to-day operations are largely driven by the program that manages its print spooler, believe it or not. Memos, faxes, contracts, receipts, customer orders–the stuff of business, essentially, can’t propel the company’s operations forward if it can’t get printed and circulated to the appropriate parties.
It poses a significant problem then if a company’s printer software developer discontinues support of their software, for whatever reason. Unaddressed, the problem can devolve into a potential security threats if vulnerabilities surface in the software and the developer can’t release an update or patch. And even when the problem gets addressed, a company still faces the cost of acquiring new print management software. And depending on the software, they may face an additional costly learning curving, depending on how much training the software requires and more importantly, what percentage of the company’s workforce needs to be trained on it.
HP’s Discontinuation of OpenSpool
One example is when HP discontinued support of its OpenSpool software at the end of 2003. Knowledgebase support continued only for another year before it, too, was discontinued. For companies who had implemented a print management system based on OpenSpool from HP, this situation created the problem of needing to replace a discontinued product.
While finding a replacement for OpenSpool presented a problem for many companies, it simultaneously presented them with the opportunity to restructure their printing operations. If a company could implement a print spooler program that would move more functions related to print administration from the IT department to the end users, it would reduce the workload on the IT staff. Doing so would streamline operations and administration within an organization with respect to their print operations, improving efficiency and increasing productivity.
HP did refer its customers to Dazel (what today is HPOS) as an alternative replacement for OpenSpool, but it was relatively expensive. Moreover, in some computing environments, Dazel would require extensive effort to achieve seamless implementation. Some companies did test Dazel, later reporting that the tests indicated that Dazel would be difficult for their end users to use due to its complexity. This complexity would defeat the main objective in finding new print management software–specifically, moving print administration from the IT department out to the end users in their company. All this forced some companies to look elsewhere for a print spooler management program.
Evaluating Output Management Programs
Many of the companies now in search of a new print management suite wanted one with (some of) the same command line functionality built into OpenSpool, notably the proprietary -o”* commands that HP had built into OpenSpool. The new solution also needed to be easy to install to reduce the risk during the conversion and finally, it needed to be intuitive and easy for the end users to utilize with little or no training.
Placing requirements such as these on the proposed software solution certainly limited the potential solutions, yet there still were several advanced spooling solutions that could meet these demands.
One such software suite was OM Plus by Plus Technologies, which supports all of the unique HP OpenSpool “-o” command line parameters. This allows for seamless implementation across print enterprise without having to make any changes to the printing environment. With advanced text and PCL viewing capability, better security and user privilege management, and a robust print job Archive solution (which offers some degree of informational redundancy), OM Plus was among some of the more solid and versatile print management solutions available to companies.
Its continual development over the years has made it a viable replacement for the now defunct OpenSpool environment. Cross-platform compatibility has been a critical feature for companies needing to replace their print spool management system. OM Plus can receive jobs from applications across multiple operating systems without having to make changes to the electronic form.
It also has a more feature-rich GUI than OpenSpool, allowing end users to mange their print environments and reducing the workload on the IT staff. OM Plus opens a bi-directional communications session with the printer and “listens” for the job complete status (indicating the job successfully printed and was sent to the tray). If print is successful, OM Plus marks it as such on the GUI so the end user can get a positive confirmation that their job has actually landed in the output tray on a printer anywhere in the enterprise.