In today’s IT environment, it seems as if everything is centered around the cloud. To stay current and competitive, everyone is making the move to the cloud to stay up-to-date on everything that goes along with this seemingly complex subject. However, with all this cloud talk, many also believe that there are business functionalities that are better served by staying put. Printing, for example, is a business function that many believe must take place on premise. The truth is, they could not be more wrong.
Sure, the actual printer still needs to be close to the users so they can efficiently retrieve their pages. However, that moment you get a printout in hand is really just the final step in the long, complex process that is needed to turn a digital document into a printed page.
The next time you’re talking to your customers, why don’t you ask them if they want to move their printing to the cloud. The question alone is sure to draw some attention and probably lots of questions.
So, let’s make sure you’re prepared:
There are two primary approaches to moving printing to the cloud while maintaining printers on-premise in close proximity to the users.
Option one is to move the print management to the cloud.
In essence all the tricky items, such as “who is allowed to use which printer” or “which printer needs which driver” or even “what happens when a user switches locations” are all managed in the cloud and pushed down to the user’s computers.
This option eliminates the need for print servers, which might not be a staff favorite among your customer’s IT department. This is especially true if the customer is running a number of branch offices with applications mostly installed on each user’s computer. Each application prints to the driver that’s installed on the computer and sends the print job directly to the printer using the local wired or wireless network. Usually, a simple, lightweight print app on the user’s computer is all that’s needed to receive drivers and configurations in the background.
Using the cloud management interface, administrators can set up users, user groups, printers and the corresponding drivers, as well as access policies and printer profiles that determine default settings for the users. All this is done with a few clicks and then pushed out to the users via the internet. Companies that don’t want to bother with complex policies can enable user self-service options and let users pick the printer they need.
Option two is picking a solution that moves the print processing to the cloud as well.
Instead of dealing with the intricacies of the print process, like matching printers to drivers or drivers to operating systems, administrators can determine if printing should be done on each computer or via print servers, or how to integrate smartphones and tablets and other time-consuming questions. They can also figure out how each device that needs to print connects to a cloud printing service that provides the answer to all those questions as a service.
User’s devices can connect via simple apps or a “cloud printer driver” to a service that’s as easy to book and manage as Gmail, Dropbox or Salesforce. When users need to print they follow established workflows and can pick up their pages at the printer like they usually do.
On the administration side, it’s easy to add users and printers, set policies if needed or wanted. However, there’s no need to lose sleep over scalability, compatibility or availability. All this is part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the cloud printing service and greatly simplifies operating the “behind the scenes” elements of business’ print environment.
“Wouldn’t it be much easier to just have one cloud printing option?” one might ask. Yes, it would be. Option two is an all-encompassing solution that can service a five-user environment or a 500,000 user environment. However, not all customers are ready to let a third party handle their data, especially when print data is much more likely to contain sensitive or proprietary data than an email.
Cloud printing is an easy way for your sales reps to be part of the “trendy” conversation. And, having the two options available is a great way to ease your customers into the topic. Those who might have some reservations (or regulatory restrictions) around the cloud can feel comfortable that no sensitive data is leaving their environment using option one and probably have similar experiences managing endpoints, for example, via Microsoft Intune.
Customers that are more ready or willing to go all in on the cloud will find it convenient to leave everything but the actual production of the printed pages to a cloud printing service that frees them of difficulty and time-consuming questions around performance and availability of the print environment.
Whichever option your customers choose, they can be sure that it’s an important step to freeing up more time to focus on their business, it’s profitability and innovation for their customers. Start the conversation.