"The Cloud" touches almost every element of business technology today. From the cloud storage services that make it easier to access data from anywhere to the servers that support websites, the power of distributed computing is significant—and the revolution isn't over yet. New and evolving applications offer additional opportunities to improve the way that your business functions.
Cloud-based printing is one such application. When an employee presses "Print" at their workstation, what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that data goes to the right printer to become a hard copy? Without a modern and intelligent on-premises software solution, traditional print server management can be costly, slow and difficult to maintain at the level of reliability that your business requires.
When cloud printing and related capture tools form a fundamental element of intelligent automation strategies, businesses can reach the next stage of printing evolution. What is cloud printing, how does it work and what can it do for your business? Join us to explore the answers and examine how this technology measures up to the latest in traditional, server-based print management.
- Traditional Print Management and Its Problems
- What Is Cloud-Managed Printing?
- How Cloud-Based Printing Works in Practice
- The Advantages of Going to the Cloud
- Are There Any Disadvantages?
- The Role of Intelligent Automation in Printing
- Set Up Your Office for the Future of Printing, Today
Setting the Stage: Traditional Print Management and Its Problems
Traditional print setups at the enterprise level are surprisingly complex and difficult to manage. Direct IP printing connections from workstations to printers are not always practical to implement and in workplaces with higher print volumes, the system can slow down or even collapse. Then there are the frustrations associated with updating print drivers for each device. How often does your IT team field "the printer is down" complaints?
Those troubles lead many businesses to adopt on-prem print servers, which make it easier to manage printer drivers, control the flow of print jobs and improve security. However, deploying such a printing infrastructure means contending with multiple limitations, which can lead to new challenges—even for organizations with strong IT departments. Some of those concerns include:
- The costs associated with deploying and operating an on-site print server. It is another layer of technology that requires direct oversight and maintenance from IT, and these solutions can be expensive.
- Driver management. Missed updates or incompatibilities can lead to workflow bottlenecks that frustrate personnel and slow down the workday.
- Taxing IT team resources with frequent support tickets for printer problems. Poor management can mean that print jobs stack up, create backlogs and flood the help desk with support requests. With so many other daily fires for your team to put out, print problems don't help productivity.
- A single failure point. If your print server goes down, workday tasks that depend on troubleshooting this frustrating issue are compromised. Traditional systems might work for smaller businesses, but at scale, a single failure mode isn't an acceptable risk.
With an increasing need to support mobile devices, lower costs and reduce the burden that print jobs place on IT, businesses need a true solution. Today, those solutions come in two forms: cloud-based solutions and on-prem intelligent automation.
What Is Cloud-Managed Printing?
Cloud printing and cloud print management are related terms, but they refer to different functions. Cloud printing is putting a print job into a cloud service, then using software on an individual machine or device to "pull" that job from the cloud to print it.
You can go beyond basic cloud printing and manage printers with a cloud-based service. With such a setup, not only can you increase the flexibility and mobility of your printing infrastructure, but you can also centralize driver management and streamline device discovery and maintenance.
With third-party software such as Kofax ControlSuite that connects your hardware and software to cloud systems such as Microsoft Universal Print, you can build a unified user experience that makes running print jobs and keeping them secure far easier both on- and off-premises. Cloud-managed printing means that users can "bring their own device", pulling jobs from the server to their own printer at home or sending print jobs to the office when a colleague needs a hard copy. At the same time, in-office printer management is centralized and easy to manage, even with a highly diverse MFD fleet.
How Cloud-Based Printing Works in Practice
Let's look at a quick example of how cloud printing works.
A user wants to print a document. Instead of sending it directly to a printer or a local print server, the user’s device pushes the print job information to a cloud application, such as Microsoft's Azure-powered Universal Print. Depending on which printing device the user requires, the system can push the print job directly to a web-enabled printer or send it through a software connection to a legacy device.
The cloud server handles all the heavy lifting of translating digital information into data that even old printers can process, understand and use for output. At the same time, services such as Universal Print automate driver management. Tools such as ControlSuite give organizations greater control over printing, capture and other document workflows.
The Advantages of Going to the Cloud
- Automatic software and driver updates. Let the cloud handle this task, not IT—and spend far less time worrying about mismatched drivers, rollbacks and troubleshooting.
- Enhanced connections to colleagues working from home. Ensure that employees remain connected to the company's print infrastructure, no matter where they are.
- Easier printing from users’ mobile devices, even away from the office.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
While no solution is a one-stop shop, the scalability of cloud computing has made it easier than ever for any business to adopt far-reaching modern solutions. However, there are some potential downsides to cloud printing that mean it isn’t always the right choice on its own. A few key challenges include:
- Security concerns. With best practices and good governance in place, however, it's possible to use cloud print management effectively even with sensitive data.
- 100% uptime isn't a guarantee. There is always a chance that your business will experience a cloud outage that could temporarily reduce or restrict remote access to your devices.
- Not the right fit for every business. Not every company can transition to solely cloud-based solutions: for some, on-prem solutions provide a key level of flexibility and control.
The Role of Intelligent Automation in Printing
Traditional print servers contend with only one task: printing. Their job is to translate files into data that printers can understand and send those jobs to the right printer.
Many concerns with this technology stem from its one-dimensional nature. Modern solutions such as ControlSuite incorporate a range of technologies essential for the modern office–features that you also won’t typically find in solely cloud-based printing networks.
Intelligent automation lies at the intersection of multiple technologies. It involves using smart software to solve common challenges. With ControlSuite, you can transform document-related workflows with a centralized, on-prem solution using a unified interface for both desktop and mobile users. Such software makes it effortless to capture or print documents while simultaneously and automatically connecting that data to other business processes.
Set Up Your Office for the Future of Printing, Today
With platforms such as Kofax ControlSuite, opportunities for intelligent automation are within easy reach for businesses. Take full advantage of these advanced tools, such as OCR-powered document capture and rules-based printing security, and position your business on the cutting edge. Designed to interface with Universal Print through a special connector, ControlSuite offers your business the opportunity to extend the usefulness and value of your MFD deployments by extending your work into the cloud.
Together, cloud printing and the next generation of on-prem printing technologies offer businesses the complete range of flexibility that they need to succeed in a global business environment. Evaluate the effectiveness of your current print setup today and see if it’s time to make a change.