Integrating Universal Print with Entra ID: Enhancing Print Management and Security

Traditional print management stands no chance when it comes to meeting the evolving needs of said modern workplaces. 

Enters Universal Print. 

Microsoft Universal Print is a groundbreaking solution that’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite by shifting local print servers towards cloud-based services and remote work. 

No longer does your business require complex on-premises infrastructure or manual configurations. With Universal Print, you get to have a centralized, cloud-native platform for all of your print management. The outcome is streamlined print workflows, enhanced security, and an overall seamless experience for administrators and end users. 

Think of Universal Print as the bridge between on-premises print infrastructure and the cloud. Your business gets to leverage the power of Microsoft’s cloud services to simplify print deployment, streamline the management of tasks, and provide a consistent print experience. 

Understanding Universal Print and Microsoft Entra ID Integration

Universal Print

To take your business into the realm of modern print management, you’ve got to consider integrating Universal Print with Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory). This is particularly important if your business is transitioning towards cloud-centric environments and remote work. A few benefits that your business stands to harness include: 

  • Unified User Management  - Chances are that identity and access management are central to your Microsoft ecosystem. Fortunately, you can leverage Entra ID which centralizes user management allowing you to leverage existing user accounts and security policies. Having this unification should simplify access control and minimize the burden that can be managing separate user databases. 
  • Enhanced Security - The moment you integrate with Entra ID, Universal Print leverages its robust authentication mechanisms and security features. This means that user authentication will be fortified through Entra ID’s multi-factor authentication (MFA) and conditional access policies. 
  • Single Sign-On (SSO) Convenience - Once you integrate Universal Print with Entra ID, SSO capabilities are enabled. This means that users across your print ecosystem should be able to access both Universal Print and other

Microsoft 365 services with a single set of credentials. The outcome is enhanced user experience as you’ll have eliminated the need for multiple logins. Said seamless access will lead to productivity gains as well as smoother workflows. 

Let’s delve into the SSO capabilities that emerge from this constructive interaction between Universal Print and Entra ID integration: 

  1. Effortless Access to Print Resources - Once SSO is enabled, all users can access Universal Print and associated print resources with the same credentials they use on their Microsoft 365 accounts. This effectively eliminates the need for users to remember multiple usernames and passwords solely for print-related activities.  

  2. Simplified User Experience - Users within your data ecosystem can navigate between Universal Print, cloud-based applications, and other Microsoft 365 services without having to repetitively input their login details. The outcome is a cohesive experience with fewer disruptions and overall better productivity. 

  3. Unified Identity Management - Once integrated, Entra ID serves as the identity provider for Universal Print. This ensures that user identities are managed centrally. The moment a user is added, modified, or removed from Entra ID, the same is automatically mirrored on Universal Print. This means consistency within your data estate and an up-to-date user database. 

  4. Heightened Security through Entra ID Authentication - SSO enhances security by consolidating authentication through Entra ID. This means you get a chance to add an extra layer of protection before granting users access to print resources within your print ecosystem. 

  5. Reduced Password Fatigue - Managing numerous credentials across various services can be quite a hassle. Fortunately, you can now reduce this password fatigue by leveraging SSO. The latter provides a single-entry point for authentication, making users’ engagement with print-related tasks less cumbersome. 

  6. Centralized Identity Policies 

    • As an Entra ID administrator, you should be able to implement identity and access policies that extend to Universal Print. This means greater adherence to the organization’s security standards. 
  7. Hybrid Workforce Empowerment 

    • SSO yielded from Universal Print and Entra ID integration ensures consistent access to print resources, thus fostering a seamless remote work experience. 
    • Granular Permissions Management 

As an administrator, once you succeed at Entra ID integration, you should be able to enforce granular permissions for print resources. A neat advantage is that you should be able to control access to specific printers subject to user roles, departments, and other criteria. What you stand to gain is strengthened data security across your print environment. 

  • Effortless User Provisioning  - As you are onboard other users, you can provision and manage their accounts via Entra ID. Then, once the integration is extended to Universal Print, you should be better able to facilitate the on-boarding process and ensure that all users have the required access to needed print resources from the onset. 
  • Centralized Policy Enforcement  - As an Entra ID administrator, you should be able to define the policies that dictate how users are authenticated and how they interact with applications. Once you integrate your Universal Print with Entra ID, you should be better able to consistently enforce such policies across your entire print ecosystem. More specifically, you will achieve standardization and compliance throughout your print environment.  
  • Seamless Hybrid Environment  - Chances are your organization already operates in a hybrid environment, with a mix of on-premises and cloud resources. When you integrate Universal Print with Entra ID, you bridge these environments. Both your cloud-connected and on-premises printers are easily accessible and manageable. 

Steps to Integrate Universal Print with Entra ID

To integrate Universal Print with Azure, these are the steps you must follow. 

Step 1: Setting Up Entra ID Integration

  1. Log in to the Azure portal with an account that has the necessary administrative privileges 
  2. Navigate to “Azure Active Directory” from the left-hand menu 
  3. Configure your Entra ID settings, including user accounts and security policies subject to your specific business needs 

Step 2: Prepare Universal Print

  1. Log in to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center using your administrative credentials 
  2. Navigate to “Universal Print” from the left-hand menu 
  3. Ensure that your organization’s Universal Print licenses are properly assigned and configured 

Step 3: Register Universal Print in Entra ID

  1. Within the Universal Print section of the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, click on “Register with Entra ID” 
  2. You will be redirected to the Azure portal. Here, you’ll follow the prompts to complete the registration process. This effectively establishes the connection between Universal Print and Entra ID 

Step 4: Configure Single Sign-On

  1. In the Azure portal, navigate to “Azure Active Directory: and then to “Enterprise applications” 
  2. Click on “Universal Print” and configure the Single Sign-On setting 
  3. Follow the instructions to configure Single Sign-On which involves setting up SAML-based authentication 

Step 5: Configure Printers and Permissions

  1. In the Universal Print section of the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, configure your printers by adding them to the Universal Print service 
  2. Define printer settings including naming conventions, locations, and driver preference 
  3. Set up printer permissions by assigning users or groups from Entra ID to specific printers based on their roles 

Step 6: Test and Monitor

  1. You want to continually test the integration by having users access and print from Universal Print-enabled printers using their Entra ID credentials 
  2. Monitor the integration for any issues and ensure that printer access and permissions are working as needed 

Best Practice for a Seamless Integration

To activate a seamless integration between Universal Print and Entra ID, it’s paramount that you adhere to a few best practices. 

Here are some key considerations to ensure smooth integration: 

  • Plan and Prepare  

    • Assessment: You can evaluate your organization’s existing print infrastructure, user needs, and security requirements before beginning the integration.  
    • Roles and Permissions: Consider defining clear roles and responsibilities for administrators tasked with managing both Universal Print and Entra ID integration.  
    • Communication: Consider communicating any upcoming changes to all invested parties including the IT teams, end-users, and management.  
  • Entra ID Configuration  

    • Clean User Data: Make sure that your Entra ID user data is accurate and up to date 
    • Group Management: Leverage Entra ID groups for organizing users with similar print access needs 
  • Security and Authentication  

    • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Consider enforcing MFA for user authentication to enhance security when accessing Universal Print resources  
    • Conditional Access Policies: Set up conditional access policies to control printer access based on predefined factors.  
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)  

    • SAML Configuration: When configuring SSO, follow Microsoft’s recommended steps for configuring SAML-based authentication between Universal Print and Entra ID.  
    • Testing: Take your SSO setup through vigorous testing to ensure that users experience a seamless login process across the entire ecosystem.  
  • Printer Configuration  

    • Naming Conventions: Ensure that you use clear and consistent naming conventions for printers making them easier for users to identify and use.  
    • Driver Management: Ensure that all the printer drivers needed are available and compatible with Universal Print for all your devices.  
  • Permissions and Access  

    • Granular Permissions: Consider assigning printer access permissions based on user roles and responsibilities.  
    • Regular Review: Ensure that you periodically review and update user permissions to align with any enacted changes.  
  • Testing and Monitoring  

    • Pilot Testing: It’s good practice to conduct a pilot phase with just a few users to determine any issues before you roll out the integration throughout your ecosystem. 
    • Monitoring Tools: Leverage monitoring tools to track user activity, printer usage, and potential issues. 

By following these best practices, you should be able to create a smooth and effective integration between Universal Print and Entra ID. 

At Agile IT we walk with you through transitioning from legacy, on-prem print infrastructure to secure-cloud-based print management solution, Universal Print. Our team of expert consultants can help address any business needs and provide recommendations for seamless integration of Universal Print with Entra ID. Contact Agile IT) today and set up a consultation.