There has been a lot of chatter in recent months about cloud print management services, and it’s interesting to observe how different the assumptions have been about the meaning of “cloud print management” and what a cloud print management solution looks like.
Cloud Hosted vs True Cloud
Some IT pros assume that “cloud print management” means hosting an on-premises software solution in a cloud space such as IBM Cloud or Microsoft Azure. This “lift and shift” strategy does make sense for some businesses, especially those looking to gradually reduce the number of servers in their data center.
Some of our customers have chosen this path as an early phase in their transition from traditional on-site IT teams to more streamlined teams managing various vendor relationships around cloud-based services.
“Let’s be honest – no IT teams want to think about print. Leave that to specialists who love doing it.”
However, with this arrangement, the management responsibility for application performance and configuration remains with your internal IT teams, and upgrade cycles are no less burdensome than in the past.
True cloud print management means your organization is leveraging cloud services to take on the security, infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrade burdens that your internal staff would otherwise need to manage.
“The cliché ‘it’s a win-win’ doesn’t have enough ‘wins’ to encapsulate it.”
This benefit has never been more important than it is today. The significant (and in many cases, permanent) increase in home office arrangements has transformed IT strategies overnight. IT teams at many companies have had to throw out their pre-COVID playbooks and re-evaluate everything. Offloading the burden of managing print in favor of cloud services is one of the fastest-moving trends in IT.
When your printing operations are leveraging the benefits of the SaaS business model, your IT teams have a lot less to worry about. And let’s be honest, no IT teams want to think about print. IT pros want to focus on their core competencies to help their business focus on what it does best. Printing operations? Leave that to specialists who love doing it.
“You might not have thought that the efficiency gains and business advantages of the cloud could extend to your office printing operations, but that’s the reality.”
Conceptually, “Print as a Service” isn’t much different from your ERP system, your identity management services, or your CRM. The solution provider ensures that the system is secure, available, optimized, up-to-date, and scaling with the growth trajectory of your business. That’s what true cloud print management looks like.
It works the same as traditional server-based secure printing. Employees print as they normally do, from whatever applications they are using. But instead of having print jobs delivered to individual printers for immediate output, everyone prints to one secure virtual queue. To release their documents from this queue employees must be physically present at their preferred device and use their proximity card, mobile device, or user credentials to authenticate.
This secure printing workflow ensures that authorized users are the only people who can access your output devices, and it protects the confidentiality of your sensitive information. In offices that don’t have secure printing, you’ll often see documents abandoned in printer output trays or stacked on top of devices or tables where anybody can view them. This is as risky as it is wasteful.
The information security and compliance risks alone are driving the strong trend toward secure office printing, and that’s before the inevitable cost savings and waste reduction factor into the equation. Add to all of this a SaaS delivery model and suddenly your IT staff is free of the administration and maintenance of the entire supporting ecosystem. The cliché “it’s a win-win” doesn’t have enough “wins” to encapsulate it.
You Can’t Manage What You Can’t See
In addition to securing your devices and documents, it’s critical to track your printer fleet and user printing activity. You can’t effectively manage print if you can’t see who is printing what, when, and to which devices.
When you pair secure printing with comprehensive print analytics, you take cloud print management to the next level. You can simply open a web browser and see how much printing is taking place across your organization or within specific departments.
It’s total data awareness: who is printing and at what cost, what applications employees are printing from, and many other granular details. You can quickly see where your printing costs are excessive and gain key insights into how you can continually optimize your organization’s print environment.
Actionable Print Analytics for Businesses and Higher Ed Institutions
You might not have thought that the efficiency gains and business advantages of the cloud could extend to your office printing operations, but that’s the reality: Businesses are increasingly adopting the SaaS model for their printing infrastructure.
Your business is already on the cloud path. To continue to reduce your infrastructure and data center dependence (and all the management tasks associated with it), you can add office printing to your list of cloud services. Your IT team will have less work to do and more information to leverage.
The Office of the Future is Now
Print management via the cloud may seem odd at first, considering your organization’s printers are in your physical space—down the hall and to the left or whatever the case may be. That will still be the case when we return to a new normal in our businesses.
The difference is that it’s super-simple to secure and manage them to protect information and track their output and related costs. Securing a device to enforce user authentication is as simple as a mouse click, and you have instant and total data awareness at your fingertips.
“The important point is that you are giving employees and students more options, and creating a safer work environment for your people.”
In our new world, with so much uncertainty around office life and the number of permanent home-based workers, print is likely to look quite a bit different for the foreseeable future, and touchless printing is one important option for businesses to provide their workforce.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we think about touching shared surfaces, especially “high-touch” surfaces like payment consoles, railings, and public touch screens. Office printing is one example of a regular business workflow that often requires touching a heavily trafficked shared surface: the printer touch screen.
Many of our secure print customers have inquired about alternative printing workflows that don’t require employees or students to touch the printer control panel. We are happy to provide two touchless printing options:
Beacon Mobile Print provides touchless printing by leveraging QR codes for user authentication. It’s a simple, fast, and efficient secure printing solution that does not require any interaction with the printer control panel. Employees or students use the Sentry Print app (iOS or Android) to scan a QR code affixed to the printer. All print jobs in the individual’s queue are immediately printed, so the user never has to make contact with the printer interface.
The other option is to use proximity cards for user authentication. To enable touchless printing, the site administrator simply enables the option with a single click. From that point forward, a 5-second delay starts upon successful authentication at the device. If the user does not touch the printer control panel within those five seconds, all documents in their queue will be printed automatically. Or, the user can touch the screen and modify their print output as needed, and access other device functions.
The important point is that you are giving employees and students more options, and creating a safer work environment for your people.
Prepare Your Printing Operations for the Future
Reducing your organization’s expenses and IT workload has always been an important reason to leverage the SaaS model for your printing operations. Today, the number one concern of the IT pros we talk to is the need to provide safe and flexible printing options for employees while also improving data security. They like the idea of eliminating print servers and partnering with a company that shares industry best practices for securing printers and multi-function devices. They also appreciate that our touchless printing options have been proven in the market for years.
“It’s a new era for print management, and Pharos is proud to be leading the way forward.”
It’s important to remember that the top cloud application platform providers are Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Apple. These are the best and most reliable technology companies in the world and they have the most at stake in terms of security and service availability for their customers—customers like Pharos.
We built the Pharos Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which gives our customers peace of mind. They know that one of the strongest and most reliable platforms in the world is helping to protect their printing data and output services. It’s a new era for print management, and Pharos is proud to be leading the way forward.