Cirrato NCC case study - Removing 60 print servers and gaining control
To move from 60 print servers to 1 ...
NCC had 60 print spool servers spread across a number of different offices and sites across the world. Today, all
of their 600 printers are instead connected to one central server. Updating drivers now takes five minutes, even for
printers in remote sites, where it could before take up to a day...
...disconnect the last one too!
With such a widely branched system and just a single point of communication, one would think that the system
could be sensitive to interference. Instead, safety and reliability has increased since the server isn’t needed for the
printouts to work anymore. Meet the people who were part of and started the project at NCC and listen to their
version of how it happened.
Anders Eklind ran the project
Anders was at that time the IT co-ordinator at NCC’s head office in Solna,
just outside of Stockholm. Today he is in charge of computer communications
–As an IT co-ordinator it was my job to make sure all the local managers at
the sites, as well as in the offices had a working IT-system, and this naturally
included printers. At the IT-department we view the local managers as a customer
whose needs shall be met. The construction process can under no circumstances
be standing still.
How *¨^ ¤ ?! hard can it get?
–What can be difficult to understand is that printing is the hardest part to run in
an IT-department, or at least it was before. There were drivers that constantly had
to be updated, different systems from various printer manufacturers to handle the
actual printout, computers that were connected to new printers in new places, and
the consideration needed for disparate printout formats that CAD-, desktop- and
word processing programs use. On the whole it was a very complex environment
that often played a lot of tricks. And on a personal level it is difficult to deal with
desperate people who call in and have problems with their printouts. Funnily
enough the persons put in charge of the printers are often the newest staff mem-
bers with the least experience.
Hard to overview
–With 600 printers and 60 print spool servers it got harder to keep all aspects of
printing up to date in all places. One driver update turned out to cause problems
with CAD printouts. So we made a special solution. But in the end we got many
special solutions that were almost impossible to systematically overview.
–When Cirrato was introduced to us it was the lucid overview that got us inter-
ested. To suddenly be able to make a certain update and have it immediately
administered in the whole system was new to us. And the ability to control all
parameters remotely from one place extricates large recourses in an operation
as geographically spread as ours. We also noticed that our customer, the local
manager, would get a system with increased dependability.
–Me and Andreas Poulsen, the South region’s IT-coordinator, decided to install
Cirrato in Stockholm starting off by migrating all his printers in the South
region. Since we were still operating all our ordinary work tasks during the
migration, it took 2 months. But after that, we had learned the process, so elimi-
nating the rest of the 59 print spool servers and migrating the rest of the 550
printers took place without users noticing anything, not even when we migrated
the local printers. During the installation we noticed a couple of bugs in Cirrato,
it is after all an increadibly complex system compatible with a huge variety of
different types of businesses, but after contacting the product developers directly
the solution came quickly.
–It is a huge difference from before, when there were uncertainties every time
something was going to be done on a print server, and the operations were docu-
mented carefully so that they could be replicated on the other print servers. Today
every improvement is instantly reflected and benefitting the user. The system has
also given us the opportunity to work pro-actively, since all disturbances come
up on a screen and most of the time we can correct the problem before the users
–My recommendation to companies who are about to install Cirrato is to not
mention it to the staff. At NCC we gave notice because we were worried about
upcoming problems, but that only resulted in Cirrato being blamed as soon as a
toner ran out or a paper jam occured. With what we know today I should have told
it afterwards when it was already up and running.
Ingella horrocks runs cirrato today
Ingella, IT-coordinator, was on parental leave when the big migration took place
and she came back to a totally new environment.
“–Don’t let any consultants mess up our system” were my last words before I went
on parental leave. My experience was that it could take days, sometimes weeks
to get everything to run 100% smoothly again. This time I came to a set table,
and running the printer side of things today is a piece of cake! Cirrato has such
obvious functions and is almost maintenance free.
–In one region we had a very large number of local printers and there was great
resistance against connecting them to a central server. The experience of print
servers was that they complicate things. But it is actually when there is a large
number of local printers that the gains of using Cirrato are the largest. To be able
to centrally handle locally spread printers is without parallel. If a bug is found in a
driver or if a printer is changed it is so easy, the user notices nothing while all the
printers and routines are updated. With Cirrato we achieve what is most important
to us – that the construction proceeds on our building sites!
Göran Gerth is responsible for the environment at ncc
At a construction company like NCC, the main environmental impact takes place
at the building sites. Our focus is on environmentally sustainable construction,
logistics and materials. The biggest environmental contribution Cirrato has given
us is the increased awareness we get through its functions, such as the limitations
on printing accounts and that the system always suggests double-sided printouts.
–The environmental effect of having one large print server instead of sixty is that
it reduces the power consumption more than 90%, while at the same time making
the system more reliable. Tell me where you can reach such effects! Add to that
all the trips to the building sites from our IT people that have nearly disappeared.
In real numbers NCC’s largest environmental influence reduction comes through
environmentally friendly fuels for bulldozers and improved logistics in moving
rocks and concrete, but none the less it is important for us that the environmental
way of thinking seeps through the whole organisation. Having NCC’s IT depart-
ment reducing the environmental effects at the same time as the efficiency is
substantially increased is such an immense advantage.
Lars-Erik Åhlin is the it manager of infrastructure
Our main activity is construction; computers make our way of building more
effective. On the whole, the cost for computers and printers are negligible, as long
as they work. The cost for a whole IT-system standstill shows in salaries and shat-
tered budgets. Cirrato’s greatness is that the printouts always work, even when the
system is shut down or unreachable.