As cloud printing solutions gain increased acceptance in the enterprise as well as the SMB sector, more organizations are beginning to consider them as a viable supplement—if not outright replacement—to their traditional printing solutions. Understandably, though, there's still some skepticism toward what cloud print offers, what the tradeoffs versus conventional paradigms might be, and how ready for prime time many of these self-styled cloud printing solutions really are.
Broadly speaking, a cloud print architecture allows you transfer the physical "backbone" of your print infrastructure—typically (but not always) print servers—offsite to the cloud while keeping your clients and printers in place. The benefits of that simple vanishing act should be pretty obvious. Cloud printing solutions mean that you no longer have to pay to procure, operate, maintain and eventually upgrade those physical devices, and by virtue of that backbone now being in the cloud, some of these solutions provide a convenient online portal that you can use to carry out some basic print management tasks.
But when it comes time to choose a cloud print provider, there are a few caveats that you'll have to keep in mind. These will depend on which of the available cloud printing solutions you choose and will ultimately affect the way your organization sets up cloud printing:
- Proprietary protocols: Some cloud print providers only work best with branded printers. This could necessitate repurchasing some or all of your fleet in order to obtain cloud print functionality, potentially eliminating any cost benefit for years to come. It's possible to develop workarounds, such as creating dedicated servers to make non-branded printers compatible with cloud printing solutions, but superfluous, costly hardware is precisely what cloud printing solutions are supposed to reduce!
- Single points of failure: By their very nature, cloud printing solutions rely on the wide area network (WAN) to communicate with local printers. Therefore, if the WAN connection is cut or interrupted for any reason, printing functionality can suffer. The act of printing also generates WAN traffic—from the client device to the cloud print server, then from the cloud print server to the local network printer.
- Limited driver compatibility: Different cloud print providers handle print drivers differently. Some try their best to co-exist with native drivers while others want to assume complete control of client–printer interaction. Either way, you might have to brace yourself and your end users for a loss of functionality in the event that printer-specific features are not supported.
When setting up your cloud print solution, you'll want to take steps to avoid these disadvantages and limitations. Or you can choose one that doesn't ask you to compromise: PrinterCloud.
PrinterCloud is unique among cloud printing solutions because it leverages the same underlying architecture as PrinterLogic's best-in-class enterprise print management software. Similarly to our on-premise solution, PrinterCloud allows you to eliminate print servers in favor of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model while achieving a level of ease and administrative control with print management that IT admins have long thought was all but impossible. PrinterCloud works with all printers, regardless of model or manufacturer, doesn't restrict you to a tiny palette of cloud print setup options, and even avoids WAN vulnerabilities because it establishes direct IP connections between clients and printers.
With PrinterCloud, migrating to a cloud print architecture really is as easy as swapping out your existing print management solution while keeping your existing infrastructure in place. A straightforward migration tool will transfer all your current printers, drivers and profiles to PrinterCloud, at which point you can power down your print servers and start enjoying the convenience and cost-effectiveness of full-featured cloud printing. Give it a try (for free!) to see for yourself.
With nearly 20 years of experience in delivering market leading IT solutions to Fortune 500 companies, Devin prides himself on driving simplicity into products that solve extremely complex IT problems. For years he has been focused on the end-user computing devices and delivering technology that provides valuable services to the end-user which enable them to be their most productive self. As Vice President of Product Management at PrinterLogic, he focuses on increasing the value customers get from the company's Enterprise Printer Management solution.