Large enterprises, with their large IT staffs and vast resources, have long been the target of some of the more robust print management solutions on the market. But with cloud-based services and optional edge components, even small-to-midsize businesses can have the best of both worlds for managing their printing: the speed of on-premise processing and the efficiency and cost-savings of the cloud.
Even as digital transformation and paperless are the focus of many current IT investments, the fact remains that nearly every business still needs to print documents, and that is not a fact that’s likely to change anytime soon. Cloud print management can, however, optimize your paper usage even for companies or their branch offices, where deploying an MPS solution was too difficult or costly before.
Managing a printing infrastructure is also a time-consuming task for IT staff. I don’t know of a single IT person who doesn’t cringe at the words, “The printer isn’t working.”
There is a way to regain control of printing costs, outsource the hassle of doing it yourself, and maintain the security of information: Print management as a cloud service.
Who doesn’t love the cloud?
Whether for business or personal use, there’s an app for everything. And using those apps is often simpler and less expensive than implementing software, especially for businesses.
SMBs are all-in on the cloud. Our research shows that 93% of SMBs use public cloud applications. Half of SMBs have a preference for the cloud, with an additional 10% focused on using ONLY cloud-based software.
The benefits of using the cloud are familiar to us by now:
- No need to implement in-house software or extra infrastructure (no extra servers to buy!)
- In-house IT staff save time by not having to manage the functionality delivered by the cloud software
- Faster provisioning
- Usually less costly and can budget as an operating cost rather than making a capital expenditure, which helps cash flow
- Cloud apps are updated frequently, so you’ll receive more functionality over time and won’t have to worry about upgrades
For some applications, the cloud can cause concerns when fast processing is required. There are also potential security concerns.
The same SMB research shows concerns over both latency and security. Half of SMBs classified their internet connections as “slow but reliable” or “slow and unreliable.” When it comes to security, SMBs are also worried about their information:
- 52% cited security as a top concern in any cloud application
- 61% said security is a top concern for print management applications
Cloud-based print management with an edge
When it comes to printing documents, employees become annoyed at any lag, which can lead to repeated mashing of the “print” button. Pennies or a fraction of a penny per page isn’t bad. Over thousands or hundreds of thousands of documents, though, that adds up to real money.
Enter the edge. Gartner has been reporting for a few years that “The Edge Will Eat the Cloud.” The edge allows processing to stay on-premises, which is faster and more secure.
Edge computing, as it relates to print infrastructure, is using local devices to process print and scan jobs. Only the job’s metadata travels to the cloud for reporting purposes.
SMBs in our study showed a clear preference for processing print jobs on the edge. Only 30% were confident in having print jobs processed in the public cloud. A small minority, 14%, won’t consider the public cloud for print management at all. The remainder, 56%, preferred using an edge device to process print jobs locally.
The cloud-to-edge print management opportunity for dealers
Many copier dealers already understand these issues. So what’s different with a combined cloud and edge solution?
As discussed, latency and security are issues for SMBs. Providing a combination of processing on the edge with a centrally managed cloud solution allows you to overcome these objections:
- Processing is done in-house, so there’s no lag time for printing documents.
- The information stays in-house too. This can help heavily regulated industries, such as healthcare with HIPAA compliance needs, adhere to regulations requiring protected information while still getting the benefits of cloud computing.
Customers retain control of their information while gaining the benefit of a centralized cloud print management solution to track their entire printing environment for analysis.
Print management — there’s no reason to do it yourself
For SMBs, there’s no reason to continue the hassle of managing their print environment on their own. With a combination of edge processing and centralized cloud management, they can cut costs, maintain the security of their information, and maybe even give the IT staff a break. The addition of the edge means cloud print management can be something accessible to everyone.