Choosing Printing Options for VMware Horizon 7
With contributions from Todd Dayton, Pat Lee, Andrew Morgan, Kiran Rao, Michael Xiaomin Shen, Josh Spencer, and Jim Yanik
Printing is a key requirement for both virtual desktops (VDI/RDSH) and RDSH-published applications. VMware Horizon 7 supports both local printer redirection and native network printers. Both choices serve very different purposes, and in this blog we will discuss typical use cases for both solutions. In addition, we will show how to use VMware User Environment Manager, part of Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition, to more easily manage network printer mapping and deliver “follow-me printing.”
Using Local Printer Redirection with VMware Horizon 7
Local printer redirection is included with VMware Horizon 7 and is designed for the following use cases:
- Printers directly connected to USB or serial ports on the client device
- Specialized printers such as bar code printers and label printers connected to the client
- Network printers on a remote network that are not addressable from the virtual session.
The following figure shows the components and workflow of local printer redirection:
Local printer redirection is easy to deploy because the virtual machine is printer-driver free: The printer driver is installed on client endpoints.
Following are a couple of things to keep in mind when using local printer redirection with VMware Horizon 7:
- It supports many common printer features such as two-sided printing, but because it is a universal printing solution, it may not offer some unique features of a specific printer.
- Clients that do not have local printer drivers, such as PCoIP zero clients and mobile clients, are not supported.
Finally, although network printers already mapped to the endpoint can appear using local printer redirection, local printer redirection is not the right solution for corporate network printers. Network printing is redirected over virtual channels, which can impact overall performance.
See the following section for the correct printing solution to use with network printers.
Using Native Network Printing with VMware Horizon 7
In most corporate environments, network printers are managed using corporate print servers, which allows for greater management and control of printer resources. Leveraging network print servers enables the use of the native printer driver for all features that are available with the printer. Print servers can also offer capabilities to optimize performance over the WAN to branch offices.
The following figure shows the components and workflow when network printers are configured natively in a Horizon 7 virtual machine:
One disadvantage of network printing is that printer drivers for all possible printers need to be installed on the virtual machine or RDSH host. If you consider this challenging, there are third-party options such as advanced versions of ThinPrint that can provide network printing without the need to install additional printer drivers on each virtual machine or RDSH host. The Print and Document Services option included with Microsoft Windows Server is another option for managing your network printers.
To enhance network printing, you can use VMware User Environment Manager, as described in the following section.
Deliver Follow-Me Printing Using VMware User Environment Manager
Managing printer mappings and access to printers can be a challenge for both virtual and physical machines. Fortunately, VMware User Environment Manager, part of VMware Horizon 7 Enterprise Edition, manages end-user profiles and provides an easy way to easily map printers. With this feature, a “follow-me” printing solution can be delivered with convenience as well as high performance.
The following screenshot gives an example of setting up printer mapping with User Environment Manager:
One of the powerful features of printer mapping with User Environment Manager is that printers can be mapped at different times based on your specific needs.
- Printers can be mapped during the user login process. Printers are ready immediately after the login process completes.
- Printers can alternatively be mapped when a user launches an application that needs a specific printer, and the mapping can be deleted after the application exits. This streamlines the login process because the printer is mapped only when and if the user actually needs it.
Conditions can also be set when printers are mapped to get a full user-context-based printer solution. Here are some examples of the conditions:
- Printer mapping based on endpoint properties like IP address range or host name – Printers can be mapped based on the location of the endpoint so that a user always has a printer near their physical location. This provides a “follow me” printer solution, ideal for roaming users.
- Printer mapping based on Horizon Client properties, such as client location and pool name – For example, this feature can dynamically identify whether a user is on an internal or external connection, and map an appropriate printer. The feature can even disable printer redirection entirely so a user at home would be unable to print, if that is the desired outcome.
- Mapping based on user’s organization unit.
For more details on condition settings, refer to the VMware User Environment Manager Documentation.
When using network printers in an office environment, you need to use network print servers, and it is recommended to use VMware User Environment Manager to deliver a follow-me printing solution.
When using locally attached personal printers and specialized printers such as bar code printers and label printers, local printer redirection is the correct printing solution.