Optimize Remote Output and Print Management for SAP Systems


Matthew Shea:
Hello, and thanks for coming to today’s live Q&A on optimizing remote output and print management for SAP systems, particularly the UniSpool solution.  I am joined by Goosen de Bruin, Managing Director at Solipsis, Johan Harmsen, Software Architect at Holland House b.v., and Tessa Hofman, Solipsis Group. We are looking forward to a lively discussion.

Comment from Moh: We have an SAP ERP system at our company, and we need to know some information about the UniSpool solution. Is it applicable for any version of an SAP system? We have enhancement package 6 for SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) 6.0 and Sybase ASE 15.7.

Johan Harmsen: Yes, it runs on any SAP system. All current SAP systems through SAP S/4HANA.  UniSpool uses the SAP Basis Component – External Output Management (BC-XOM) interface. The implementation is certified by SAP.

Comment from Moh: Do we need to buy any specific printers or devices to use it?

Johan: No, any network-connected printer will suffice. Some printers have their own printer type in an SAP system. We usually recommend using generic types such as LaserJet4 or Zebra.

Comment from Moh: What are the steps necessary to use the UniSpool solution  at our company?

Goosen de Bruin: This is a very open question. It depends on  dependence of the environment, environment, number of users, the number of users, and the number of devices. We usually start with a proof of concept.

Comment from Guest: What is the difference between the SAPSprint server and the and UniSpool solution?

Johan: SAPSprint works only in Windows environments, whereas while the UniSpool solution works on any platform supported by SAP. It is not necessary to set up a Windows print server. Also, fault tolerance is much higher in UniSpool., as SAPSprint must be restarted if there are problems with a device.. UniSpool will automatically try to reestablish the connection to the device without manual intervention.

We consider SAPSprint a solution designed for Windows installations with a limited number of printers. In contrast, UniSpool is was designed as an enterprise solution for environments with hundreds or thousands of printers. In addition, SAPSprint offers only print functionality, whereas UniSpool offers many other options, such as redirecting output when a printer is unavailable, format conversion, and archiving and more.

Comment from Guest: How can 180,000 print jobs be administered every day? How can I keep an eye on everything?

Tessa: UniSpool features smart search tools and filters for working with those print jobs that are really of interest. The user interface supports a variety of triggers that can be enabled to alert the administrator if a certain situation arises. For example, if a queue holds more than 50 requests at a certain moment, this could be an indication that the printer is not functioning properly.

Comment from Guest: How does this solution compare against other spooling solutions?

Tessa: UniSpool is very scalable; and up to 20,000 devices can be handled from one server.. The Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS), for example, cannot handle configurations of that size. Furthermore. Furthermore, UniSpool provides a user interface that makes managing such a large environment a snap.

Comment from Guest: How secure is it?

Tessa: All print data handled by UniSpool can be encrypted  from the point of creation (where it leaves the SAP system)  to the printer (if the printer supports encryption, of course). If the request data is temporarily stored on a server, the data is stored as an encrypted file.

Comment from Guest: Do I need staff training for the solution?

Tessa: No, because lengthy training causes excessively high ancillary costs. Our software is based on the native look and feel of the underlying operating system — whether it’s UNIX, Linux, or Windows —  thereby accelerating familiarization and effectively minimizing the need for training. Training sessions are individually adapted to the requirements of the customer’s network and are conducted locally.

Comment from Ramesh: When we are talking about print management, instead of the authorized person to taking the prints, why can’t we map the prints to a digital format conversion, and these digital files can be? This could then be authenticated via a digital signature and viewed with any handheld devices such as devices  a mobile phone, a Palmtop, a mobile, palmtop, laptop, a Notepad, or an iPad. We would only need to share only the spool number, and the print file can then could be converted automatically to a digital format so that we can reduce the printing of paper as well. Is there a way we can sync the print server with the archive server?

Johan: UniSpool can convert print request data into virtually any other format via external converters (for example, Compart DocBridge Mill, RedTitan, or GhostScript) that can be integrated into UniSpool. Furthermore, a link to the converted print request data can automatically be added to an HTML page based on attributes of the print request — for example, the name of the user who created the print request. The creator can sign on to the webserver, view his or her list of converted output requests, and decide what to do with them — for example, view, print, or delete the output . Digital signing is currently not a part of this workflow, but it can easily be added through some custom scripting available in UniSpool.

Syncing a print and archive server can be done in UniSpool because UniSpool has built-in functionality to perform other actions on print requests in addition to printing them. Such an action could be moving the request to the archive server. UniSpool will consider the request completed successfully only if both actions, printing and moving to the archive system, are completed successfully.

Comment from Guest: We require the ability to print from our ERP environment, SAP ECC, and SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM), and we also need to print from our manufacturing execution system (MES) environment. Today, we use a solution that allows us to use the SAP print integration, and we use the drop folder capability. Can this solution support both environment requirements today?

Johan: Assuming your MES is the SAP Manufacturing Execution System, I must admit that I do not have any hands-on experience with that. I would assume that MES is a layer on top of the BC (Basis Component), so it should work. UniSpool is based on BC-XOM (Basis Component – External Output Management).

I forwarded this question to someone who might give a definitive answer.

On the other hand, if data is dropped in a folder, it is quite easy to pick it up from there and process that further via UniSpool.

Comment from Moh: What communication type is used between an SAP system and UniSpool?

Johan: UniSpool supports the polling and the Remote Function Call (RFC) interfaces, both of which are SAP certified. The RFC interface offers a slightly better performance, whereas the polling solution is a little easier to configure.

Comment from Gopal: We wanted to print a huge volume of invoices that can bundle together based on the order in which it needs to be folded and sent to the customer. For example, if I have a five-page printout for a customer, printouts have to be offset it from page one to page five. So5 so it is easy for my mailroom person to fold the pages and pack them together for different customers. What capabilities do you have around offsetting of print outputs? Can we get a list of capabilities around print management

Johan: If the invoices are all separate print requests, you can print a page from a different tray containing colored paper before each invoice, regardless of the number of pages in the invoices. O, n certain printers you can also drop the pages in the out -tray with a slight offset from the previous requests. This task also could be controlled from UniSpool. If all invoices come in one big batch, there is not much we can do; we do not look in to the data stream.

Comment from Justin: We have no current print management solution for an SAP system. We are trying to get more jobs to be digital prints (outputs or PDFs) that can then be e-mailed if needed. We need the printed data, but not the actual print. Is this something your solution can do?

Goosen: Yes. It is possible to print the document. mail the documents. You can also mail and archive the documents.

Comment from Moh: Is there any training manual for this solution (clarify? (Please clarify all the needed steps)

Goosen: There is a very detailed user and training manual. We normally have a training on-site for one day or a webinar.

Comment from Moh: How can I get the user and training manual?

Goosen: We will send it to you as soon you have purchased our product.

Comment from Neil: We currently use LRS VPSX software for out printer management system. License costs are based on the number of printers we have connected. What licensing model do you use?

Goosen: We have different options in this case. We have pricing per user. Our pricing models are per device and as software-as-a-service (SaaS). When we know more about your environment, we can give you a price.

Comment from Neil: We currently have around 1,100 printers at sites around the world and a data center based in the US.

Goosen: You must think approximately $400 per month per device. This is included support and maintenance.

Comment from AnHo: How big is the impact on printing speed by having UniSpool in -between the SAP system and the printing device? Is a high-volume shipping environment suitable for use?

Johan: Printing speed has one deciding factor — the number of pages the printer can print per minute or per hour. UniSpool can send data to thousands of printers simultaneously without a printer ever stopping because it has no data to be printed.

Comment from AnHo: I am more concerned about shipping label (single-page) prints on Zebra printers in a high-throughput packing/shipping environment. From triggering a spool in the SAP system to arriving at the printer, requirements are in the one- to four-second range. Can this be accomplished by having UniSpool in-between?

Johan: What we see in far spread-out networks, for example, when printing from the Netherlands to the US, the average time to print a label is around one second, which is about equal to the time it takes the SAP system to deliver the label to UniSpool.

Comment from Justin: When our batch job creates invoices, we must view each one manually to find its invoice number. We have tried editing the output in RD00 at the Sales Org level. If you look at the image below, you can see what we are trying to accomplish. The blacked-out part contains the customer names. We would like to see INV #XXXX Customer name. The issue is that the first invoice number repeats until we reach another customer instead of it being the correct invoice number. Would your solution be able to give us something along these lines?

Batch job creates invoices

Johan: I must admit I’m not sure at this moment if it would.  It could be possible to supply the invoice number/customer name as attributes in the SAP system print request. For example, put the information in the JobName field and then UniSpool would be able to pick up that information and show it in its user interfaces, or print it on a separate page before the actual invoice. This obviously works only if the invoices are sent as separate print requests and not as one batch.

Comment from Moh: What about the cost to use this solution?

Goosen: The cost depends on the number of users and the number of devices. We have two different pricing models: classic enterprise and SaaS.

Comment from Moh: Please advise about the cost for 10 users and 5 devices.

Goosen: Our product starts with 100 users or 50 devices.

Comment from Moh: Could you please provide me with the cost for 100 users?

Goosen: This will be around $5,000 to $10,000. This price depends on the number of modules you need. This is the enterprise pricing. The SaaS pricing is per device. This pricing is for 100 devices this is around $5.00 per500 per device, per each month.

Comment from Moh: We have the following six SAP ERP modules (Financials [FI] , Materials Management [MM] , Controlling [CO] , Human Capital Management (SAP HCM) , Production Planning [PP], and Sales and Distribution [SD]) How would the SaaS pricing work?

Goosen: You pay per device per month for at least three years, so there is no big investment in the beginning.

Comment from Matt: Does your solution have any automation features?

Johan: Yes, you can set up a workflow in UniSpool based on the attributes of a print request, and you can define rules that control how to process the output. For example, if an invoice is printed on a local printer, UniSpool can be set up so that a copy of this invoice is also printed at the company’s headquarters.


Matthew Shea:
Hello, and thanks for coming to today’s live Q&A on optimizing remote output and print management for SAP systems, particularly the UniSpool solution.  I am joined by Goosen de Bruin, Managing Director at Solipsis, Johan Harmsen, Software Architect at Holland House b.v., and Tessa Hofman, Solipsis Group. We are looking forward to a lively discussion.

Comment from Moh: We have an SAP ERP system at our company, and we need to know some information about the UniSpool solution. Is it applicable for any version of an SAP system? We have enhancement package 6 for SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) 6.0 and Sybase ASE 15.7.

Johan Harmsen: Yes, it runs on any SAP system. All current SAP systems through SAP S/4HANA.  UniSpool uses the SAP Basis Component – External Output Management (BC-XOM) interface. The implementation is certified by SAP.

Comment from Moh: Do we need to buy any specific printers or devices to use it?

Johan: No, any network-connected printer will suffice. Some printers have their own printer type in an SAP system. We usually recommend using generic types such as LaserJet4 or Zebra.

Comment from Moh: What are the steps necessary to use the UniSpool solution  at our company?

Goosen de Bruin: This is a very open question. It depends on  dependence of the environment, environment, number of users, the number of users, and the number of devices. We usually start with a proof of concept.

Comment from Guest: What is the difference between the SAPSprint server and the and UniSpool solution?

Johan: SAPSprint works only in Windows environments, whereas while the UniSpool solution works on any platform supported by SAP. It is not necessary to set up a Windows print server. Also, fault tolerance is much higher in UniSpool., as SAPSprint must be restarted if there are problems with a device.. UniSpool will automatically try to reestablish the connection to the device without manual intervention.

We consider SAPSprint a solution designed for Windows installations with a limited number of printers. In contrast, UniSpool is was designed as an enterprise solution for environments with hundreds or thousands of printers. In addition, SAPSprint offers only print functionality, whereas UniSpool offers many other options, such as redirecting output when a printer is unavailable, format conversion, and archiving and more.

Comment from Guest: How can 180,000 print jobs be administered every day? How can I keep an eye on everything?

Tessa: UniSpool features smart search tools and filters for working with those print jobs that are really of interest. The user interface supports a variety of triggers that can be enabled to alert the administrator if a certain situation arises. For example, if a queue holds more than 50 requests at a certain moment, this could be an indication that the printer is not functioning properly.

Comment from Guest: How does this solution compare against other spooling solutions?

Tessa: UniSpool is very scalable; and up to 20,000 devices can be handled from one server.. The Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS), for example, cannot handle configurations of that size. Furthermore. Furthermore, UniSpool provides a user interface that makes managing such a large environment a snap.

Comment from Guest: How secure is it?

Tessa: All print data handled by UniSpool can be encrypted  from the point of creation (where it leaves the SAP system)  to the printer (if the printer supports encryption, of course). If the request data is temporarily stored on a server, the data is stored as an encrypted file.

Comment from Guest: Do I need staff training for the solution?

Tessa: No, because lengthy training causes excessively high ancillary costs. Our software is based on the native look and feel of the underlying operating system — whether it’s UNIX, Linux, or Windows —  thereby accelerating familiarization and effectively minimizing the need for training. Training sessions are individually adapted to the requirements of the customer’s network and are conducted locally.

Comment from Ramesh: When we are talking about print management, instead of the authorized person to taking the prints, why can’t we map the prints to a digital format conversion, and these digital files can be? This could then be authenticated via a digital signature and viewed with any handheld devices such as devices  a mobile phone, a Palmtop, a mobile, palmtop, laptop, a Notepad, or an iPad. We would only need to share only the spool number, and the print file can then could be converted automatically to a digital format so that we can reduce the printing of paper as well. Is there a way we can sync the print server with the archive server?

Johan: UniSpool can convert print request data into virtually any other format via external converters (for example, Compart DocBridge Mill, RedTitan, or GhostScript) that can be integrated into UniSpool. Furthermore, a link to the converted print request data can automatically be added to an HTML page based on attributes of the print request — for example, the name of the user who created the print request. The creator can sign on to the webserver, view his or her list of converted output requests, and decide what to do with them — for example, view, print, or delete the output . Digital signing is currently not a part of this workflow, but it can easily be added through some custom scripting available in UniSpool.

Syncing a print and archive server can be done in UniSpool because UniSpool has built-in functionality to perform other actions on print requests in addition to printing them. Such an action could be moving the request to the archive server. UniSpool will consider the request completed successfully only if both actions, printing and moving to the archive system, are completed successfully.

Comment from Guest: We require the ability to print from our ERP environment, SAP ECC, and SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM), and we also need to print from our manufacturing execution system (MES) environment. Today, we use a solution that allows us to use the SAP print integration, and we use the drop folder capability. Can this solution support both environment requirements today?

Johan: Assuming your MES is the SAP Manufacturing Execution System, I must admit that I do not have any hands-on experience with that. I would assume that MES is a layer on top of the BC (Basis Component), so it should work. UniSpool is based on BC-XOM (Basis Component – External Output Management).

I forwarded this question to someone who might give a definitive answer.

On the other hand, if data is dropped in a folder, it is quite easy to pick it up from there and process that further via UniSpool.

Comment from Moh: What communication type is used between an SAP system and UniSpool?

Johan: UniSpool supports the polling and the Remote Function Call (RFC) interfaces, both of which are SAP certified. The RFC interface offers a slightly better performance, whereas the polling solution is a little easier to configure.

Comment from Gopal: We wanted to print a huge volume of invoices that can bundle together based on the order in which it needs to be folded and sent to the customer. For example, if I have a five-page printout for a customer, printouts have to be offset it from page one to page five. So5 so it is easy for my mailroom person to fold the pages and pack them together for different customers. What capabilities do you have around offsetting of print outputs? Can we get a list of capabilities around print management

Johan: If the invoices are all separate print requests, you can print a page from a different tray containing colored paper before each invoice, regardless of the number of pages in the invoices. O, n certain printers you can also drop the pages in the out -tray with a slight offset from the previous requests. This task also could be controlled from UniSpool. If all invoices come in one big batch, there is not much we can do; we do not look in to the data stream.

Comment from Justin: We have no current print management solution for an SAP system. We are trying to get more jobs to be digital prints (outputs or PDFs) that can then be e-mailed if needed. We need the printed data, but not the actual print. Is this something your solution can do?

Goosen: Yes. It is possible to print the document. mail the documents. You can also mail and archive the documents.

Comment from Moh: Is there any training manual for this solution (clarify? (Please clarify all the needed steps)

Goosen: There is a very detailed user and training manual. We normally have a training on-site for one day or a webinar.

Comment from Moh: How can I get the user and training manual?

Goosen: We will send it to you as soon you have purchased our product.

Comment from Neil: We currently use LRS VPSX software for out printer management system. License costs are based on the number of printers we have connected. What licensing model do you use?

Goosen: We have different options in this case. We have pricing per user. Our pricing models are per device and as software-as-a-service (SaaS). When we know more about your environment, we can give you a price.

Comment from Neil: We currently have around 1,100 printers at sites around the world and a data center based in the US.

Goosen: You must think approximately $400 per month per device. This is included support and maintenance.

Comment from AnHo: How big is the impact on printing speed by having UniSpool in -between the SAP system and the printing device? Is a high-volume shipping environment suitable for use?

Johan: Printing speed has one deciding factor — the number of pages the printer can print per minute or per hour. UniSpool can send data to thousands of printers simultaneously without a printer ever stopping because it has no data to be printed.

Comment from AnHo: I am more concerned about shipping label (single-page) prints on Zebra printers in a high-throughput packing/shipping environment. From triggering a spool in the SAP system to arriving at the printer, requirements are in the one- to four-second range. Can this be accomplished by having UniSpool in-between?

Johan: What we see in far spread-out networks, for example, when printing from the Netherlands to the US, the average time to print a label is around one second, which is about equal to the time it takes the SAP system to deliver the label to UniSpool.

Comment from Justin: When our batch job creates invoices, we must view each one manually to find its invoice number. We have tried editing the output in RD00 at the Sales Org level. If you look at the image below, you can see what we are trying to accomplish. The blacked-out part contains the customer names. We would like to see INV #XXXX Customer name. The issue is that the first invoice number repeats until we reach another customer instead of it being the correct invoice number. Would your solution be able to give us something along these lines?

Batch job creates invoices

Johan: I must admit I’m not sure at this moment if it would.  It could be possible to supply the invoice number/customer name as attributes in the SAP system print request. For example, put the information in the JobName field and then UniSpool would be able to pick up that information and show it in its user interfaces, or print it on a separate page before the actual invoice. This obviously works only if the invoices are sent as separate print requests and not as one batch.

Comment from Moh: What about the cost to use this solution?

Goosen: The cost depends on the number of users and the number of devices. We have two different pricing models: classic enterprise and SaaS.

Comment from Moh: Please advise about the cost for 10 users and 5 devices.

Goosen: Our product starts with 100 users or 50 devices.

Comment from Moh: Could you please provide me with the cost for 100 users?

Goosen: This will be around $5,000 to $10,000. This price depends on the number of modules you need. This is the enterprise pricing. The SaaS pricing is per device. This pricing is for 100 devices this is around $5.00 per500 per device, per each month.

Comment from Moh: We have the following six SAP ERP modules (Financials [FI] , Materials Management [MM] , Controlling [CO] , Human Capital Management (SAP HCM) , Production Planning [PP], and Sales and Distribution [SD]) How would the SaaS pricing work?

Goosen: You pay per device per month for at least three years, so there is no big investment in the beginning.

Comment from Matt: Does your solution have any automation features?

Johan: Yes, you can set up a workflow in UniSpool based on the attributes of a print request, and you can define rules that control how to process the output. For example, if an invoice is printed on a local printer, UniSpool can be set up so that a copy of this invoice is also printed at the company’s headquarters.