A downside of the cloud, as many are learning right now, is that the ability to access information and apps from anywhere can sometimes fall prey to bandwidth issues.
For many of us who remember working in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it seems inconceivable that any current access speed can seem slow, but it’s true. Latency issues and bandwidth costs remain challenges for all IT departments.
We’ll quickly explore these two issues and discuss how an edge solution can eliminate the cloud-based printing latency challenge (or at least minimize it as much as technically possible today).
Latency and bandwidth challenges to cloud printing
First, let’s be clear that latency and bandwidth are separate issues. Latency is the time it takes a packet of data to move from starting point to destination. Regardless of the network’s speed, data still has to physically move from there to here (and sometimes back again). Bandwidth is a measure of how much data can travel over a connection at one time.
Latency from cloud-based applications can decrease productivity and increase costs relative to the print infrastructure. One simple-to-understand cost is repeated jabbing at the “print” button when a document doesn’t print quickly enough. Once or twice doesn’t seem like a huge cost at a penny or so per page. However, multiply that by all employees over the course of a year and those pennies add up into dollars — an often hidden impact to the bottom line.
On the other hand, in-house print management consumes a lot of internal resources (there are very few IT professionals who don’t cringe at the four words, “the printer is down”) because the morass of legacy technology and protocols is a nightmare to manage.
And there can be latency issues with an internal printing environment as well. Latency is a potential issue in remote locations or branch offices where connectivity speeds can vary — it’s hard to think of anyone who’s never complained about their internet provider, right?
Your love of Netflix (or other video streaming service) contributes to latency and bandwidth issues. Exact figures vary, but just over 80% of web traffic will be video in 2022. Video, obviously, takes up more bandwidth than text.
In addition to fighting for space with all those office workers streaming cat videos, moving data can also be costly. The more data there is, the larger the “pipes” needed to move that data at speed, and of course, larger pipes cost more.
Combining the cloud with an edge device (or devices, depending on the size of the business) helps to solve both of these issues.
Overcome print latency with a cloud-edge combination
The simplest solution to solving latency is proximity — the less distance data has to travel, the faster it will get where it is going. A cloud database can, of course, be located anywhere in the world. Depending on how many connections the cloud app needs to make between you and your data, speed can be less than ideal at times. Every router or ground to satellite hop can introduce a slowdown. Unexpected workloads can also slow deliverability. For end users attempting to print a document this can mean a push of the print button and … nothing happens. Cue those dreaded four words: “the printer is down” (even if it isn’t!).
A combined edge-cloud print solution addresses both latency and bandwidth issues. Rather than processing the print jobs in the cloud — sending encrypted data to a cloud application for processing and then back again — an edge device can handle print job processing behind the firewall. To further streamline speed, only metadata is sent to the cloud app for centralized tracking and management.
Best of all, when an edge device is part of an overall cloud-based print solution, it’s not your device. Rather, it’s part of the service so you lose none of the advantages of a cloud solution; i.e., it’s a service that your IT department doesn’t have to manage or maintain.
A quick reminder about the importance of data security
Even if network speed isn’t an issue, security is. Cybercriminals really are after your data. The data that businesses print regularly is a gold mine of personal data (social security numbers, data of birth, banking information, addresses, etc.) that can be used for all sorts of nefarious reasons. Preventing a data breach is important for every business.
Keeping data onsite removes one potential risk. A cloud-edge printing environment ensures that your critical and confidential business information stays in-house (for more information, read “Cloud-Based Printing Can Help Prevent Paper Document Data Breaches.”)
Don’t let latency slow down your printing infrastructure
Printing for business isn’t going away anytime soon. A cloud plus edge print solution will help avoid printing delays by eliminating latency; in turn, end users will be happy because documents will print when they want them to.
Your IT department will save time (and be happier) because they won’t have to manage an outdated, convoluted print environment. You’ll also remove a security risk by keeping the print data behind your firewall.
Cloud-based printing with an edge makes life easier for your staff, your IT department, and your bottom line.
Nikolay Velinski is Cloud Services Director, Y Soft North/Latin America. “Niko” is based in Grapevine, Texas and evangelizes Y Soft’s cloud-based solutions to the partner community and to partner’s customers. When he is not talking and laughing, he’s traveling or playing tennis. A veteran in the print industry, Niko is a problem solver who enjoys helping partners expand their businesses.