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Automatic Failover/redundancy for print servers

Posted on 2014-11-10
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Last Modified: 2014-12-06
What is the best way to do automatic failover/crossover/redirect for print queues/print servers? If possible, i'm sure it would require a second print server right? The network that I support currently only has one print server. If that print server ever fails, then there is no backup server for printing to continue for our users until the current print server is fixed/rebuilt or a new print server is configured.

FACTS:
1. The current print server is a Windows Server 2008 R2 HP blade server
2. We have 8 print queues on our network and would like to have failover printing for all of them in the future

Thanks in advance for your responses .....
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Question by:jslaught
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Expert Comment

by:tshearon
ID: 40433901
Yes the best is way is to have a second print server with the same print shares. Then you could use GPO to map the printers you need.
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Author Comment

by:jslaught
ID: 40434726
I've done the suggestion above in my past experiences. It works but it's not an automatic way for users to continue to print without downtime. Looking for an suggestion to have automatic failover.
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Expert Comment

by:joharder
ID: 40443864
One solution is not to use a print server.  A side benefit of that is that you don't have the extra hop on your network for print jobs.

If you map printers GPP (e.g., TCP/IP) onto the user workstations, you can totally control printing and not be dependent upon a print server.
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Expert Comment

by:Coralon
ID: 40444020
One option to try would be to put up the print shares on another server as mentioned, but then use a DNS entry to use the same name in the event of a failure.  That does require a very small amount of intervention on your part.

As Jo mentioned, the GPP option would work pretty well, and just requires you to either wait for group policy updates, or have the users do a group policy update.

The best solution would be to do some form of clustering, including shared nothing clustering from Microsoft.

Coralon
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kevinhsieh earned 500 total points
ID: 40445012
You can do failover clustering of the print service in Windows 2008 R2. This requires that your print servers be at least Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise and that you have the necessary shared storage for failover clustering.
Microsoft doesn't support failover clustering of the print service in Windows 2012. Instead they recommend a highly available virtual machine running in a clustered hypervisor environment. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj556311.aspx

I don't believe that there is anything called a shared nothing failover cluster for VMs in general or printing specifically. Microsoft has it for SQL and Exchange but not general workloads. Shared nothing migration is not a high availability technology or strategy but simply a way to move a running VM from one host to another. It doesn't work if any of the hosts are down.
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Author Comment

by:jslaught
ID: 40447877
@ Coralon

Could you please explain further your comment above? How does this really work in DNS and what does "a very small amount of intervention" really mean in this case? Thanks in advance.
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 40450477
If you had multiple print servers and everything was configures properly you could just change the DNS entry of your print server from the IP address of one server to the other. That is the manual intervention that would be required, and then the clients would need to wait for the TTL of the DNS entry to expire or do an ipconfig /flushdns to get the new address.
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Author Comment

by:jslaught
ID: 40450972
we can easily do the multiple print server suggestion and have users map each printer twice but we were hoping to find a better automatic solution instead. It sounds like there is no solution for what i am looking for. Unfortunately we don't have capability to do clustering right now either.
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 40451003
You can easily cluster if you virtualize. :-) You could take that blade and make it a hypervisor host and then load 2 VMs on it and cluster them. Requires Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise in the VMs. If you have only a single hypervisor host you can't do a highly available VM.
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Expert Comment

by:Coralon
ID: 40451150
Kevinhsieh explained it.  All you do is change the IP address in DNS for the failed server to your working server, and the client either waits out the time to live on DNS (several days by default in WIndows, unless configured differently), restarts their network connection/computer, or flushes their dns.

Coralon
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 40451171
Minimum TTL the DNS zone for my AD environment is set to 2 minutes. :-)
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Author Comment

by:jslaught
ID: 40483971
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Was not able to find a solution from the experts. I have done atleast one of the expert suggestions (2 printer servers for the same printers and have users map same printers and print servers) in the past but is still not the solution I was looking for.
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Expert Comment

by:Coralon
ID: 40483972
The opening poster may not *like* the answers he received, but they are the correct answers.  There is not an easy clean solution beyond what was suggested to him.
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