Cisco Enterprise Print System





About CEPS

CEPS, the Cisco Enterprise Print System, is a collection of tools and utilities designed to work together to create a highly scalable, robust printing environment for a medium to large corporation. It is not a printing system that it is of much use to an individual. The tools are designed to optimize the management of large numbers of printers and would be cumbersome for someone who only has a handful of printers to administer.

CEPS is the brain child of Damian Ivereigh and came into existance while he was a sysadmin the print environment at Cisco Systems Inc.. Cisco allowed the source code to be released to the internet under the GPL for a number of reasons.

In addition to the ongoing development at Cisco, there are a few developers in the open source community working on CEPS.

Assumptions CEPS makes about the print environment

CEPS was designed for internal use by Cisco and is therefore adapted to the kind of environment that Cisco has. As a result, it assumes several things about the environment in which it will be setup. The more that a company's print environment differs from these assumptions, the more difficult it will be to adapt CEPS to that environment.

  • Printers are network connected using TCP/IP - CEPS has no facility for communicating with printers that are not on the network in one way or another. At Cisco most of the printers were connected through internal network interfaces. The only exception were serial bar code printers in manufacturing and those were network accessible through a comm server/terminal server port.
  • Most of the printers are HP, Lexmark, or Tektronix - There are currently only three ways that CEPS talks to a printer: port 9100, LPR, and reverse telnet. If a printer cannot be accessed that way supporting it will require adding some code.
  • Most of the printers have the capability to print PostScript - Sending the data through raw is possible but it some features are not accessible if print jobs are not generally PostScript.
  • Homogeneous network - Cisco's intranet spanned the globe and all devices were accessible from anywhere around the world. There were no networks with printers on them that couldn't be reached from another area.
  • Semi-central control - There is some central coordination to the IT department. In other words, print servers the world over are more or less deployed and adminstered by the same people. There might be local people who assist with the maintenance of print servers and keeping the local data up to date but at the end of the day but the job of keeping all of the print servers on the same version of software is coordinated by a central authority. This central authority also reccomends printer and print server hardware to one degree or another.
  • Policy and politics are minimal - Everyone is basically allowed to print to every printer without charge and without regard to who actually purchased the printer or the supplies that it uses.
  • People are fairly trustworthy - People are not going to go out of their way to abuse the print system or break their own printing infrastructure. There are a lot of areas where security in CEPS needs to be improved. There are also some ways a users could temporarily disrupt the printing for other users. For example, a user might stop a print queue or delete a print job that is not their own. The assumption is that we give all users the ability to start and stop the print queues so if one person stops a print job then someone who needs to print to that printer can also simply start it. This might sound like a receipe for disaster but at least Cisco this was never a problem in several years. Also any user can delete any print job. This greatly eased the burden on the sysadmin staff and never caused any problems.
  • Most printers are fairly modern - Modern printers vendors have agreed on a standard SNMP interface outlined by RFC 1759. This interface makes adminstering printers much easier.
  • The print servers can act as bootp or DHCP servers - Having the print servers act as bootp servers for the printers, really really, simplifies the management of printers.
  • Most of the print jobs come from either Unix or Windows machines - The unix printing is supported through the LPR protocol and PC printing is handled through Microsoft networking or SMP printing. At one point there were planns to also offer printing facility to Macintosh clients but the Mac's went away before the project could commence.