I’ve just been helping out a customer whose six year old Agfa Print Drive server has had a hard drive failure. It feeds a Palladio platesetter and without the Print Drive PC, he cannot output any plates, so the press is at a standstill. A platesetter like the Palladio is basically a rather slow, black & white printer.

What this rant is about is Agfa’s ludicrous installation of Apogee X – the print production system which spools to the ancient Print Drive server. This is a small print shop with a single four colour press and in the studio they only use one Macintosh G4 (currently worth about £30 on eBay). A couple of years ago, their original Apogee system was struggling to cope with new InDesign files and transparent layered PDFs. So after lengthy consultation with Agfa, their solution was to install Apogee X. What staggers me is the setup which Agfa thought suitable for a one man pre-press studio.

To run Apogee X they now have a two enormous HP Proliant servers, both with dual power supplies, three Gigabit network adapters, RAIDs with 5×2.5″ SCSI drives and dual processors. Two identical machines stand side by side (they will go up in smoke together) and one is just a spare in case the other should fail! There is only a single network card enabled and that is connected to an old 100Mb switch!

Both servers are running 24×7 although it seems likely that two identical servers, running the same schedule will probably fail more or less at the same time.


So, at God knows what cost, Apogee X is ready for anything the world can throw at it – but what about the rest of the workflow? I’m visiting because nothing can be printed since the PrintDrive PC’s hard disk drive has failed. Yes, the entire production process relies on an out of warranty Dell PowerEdge 830 server, running Windows 2000 on a single SATA HDD, with a single SCSI card interface to the Palladio – and oh yes, there’s only one Palladio platesetter and one plate processor.