Cloud computing is having a huge impact on how businesses function in the digital age. Even essential operations like document printing have benefited significantly from the cloud.
Cloud-based printing services like HP ePrint and Google Cloud Print now make it possible for users to print documents anytime and anywhere, provided that the devices they’re printing from are connected to the Internet and the cloud printing service.
The huge advantage this offers organizations in convenience can’t be overestimated. Users no longer need to install separate print drivers for every printer they want to use. This saves IT departments the time-consuming task of coordinating all kinds of hardware and keeping track of driver upgrades.
Another benefit of cloud printing is that it lets businesses share documents among different locations without the time and expense of having to install a wired network.
Printing via the public cloud has its risks.
Cloud printing services use encryption and secure HTTPS web connections that delete documents from the cloud as soon as they are printed. However, these services are not totally secure since the servers that hold the printing data are shared among many users and organizations.
For this reason, public cloud printing services are less than ideal for your government, healthcare and financial services customers—organizations that handle sensitive and confidential data. You may want to recommend that they consider a private cloud, if they have the money and IT resources to create one in-house.
Private cloud computing is more secure.
With a private cloud, the servers that host the data belong to the company and the company only—making them less likely to suffer cyberattacks—and a business’ vital information is protected by a secure firewall.
Despite their high cost, private clouds are widespread today. RightScale’s 2015 State of the Cloud Survey, conducted among 930 IT professionals in a variety of enterprises, found that 63 percent of the respondents are using a private cloud for many of their critical business functions.
A private cloud can be built in a company’s own data center or hosted by a third party. Either way, it provides a more secure option for managing and deploying printing resources throughout an organization. Still, implementing a private cloud printing solution can be challenging in that aligning all the printers, drivers and devices on the network—and keeping the printer drivers up to date—is a drain on resources.
To simplify matters, advise your customers to deploy a universal printer driver solution to seamlessly connect and manage all printers. With a universal driver, employees can identify the right printer without hassle. Ideally, it should be set up so that only a few devices out of all the printers in the cloud are exposed to each user in various locations. This simplifies and streamlines the printing function.
Private cloud is not for every customer.
Implementing a private cloud requires major server and virtualization investments upfront, so it’s not a solution for every organization, to be sure. Your SMB customers may simply want to purchase more secure printer technology instead of going the private cloud route.
Since security is such a major concern in business today, printer manufacturers like HP are incorporating advanced security features into their printer technology. HP PageWide Printers, for example, offer companies affordable, high-quality printing with advanced security features built in, so IT managers can implement user authentication and other policy-based security monitoring.
In addition, HP offers a server-based mobile printing solution, HP ePrint Enterprise, that allows mobile devices to print to any registered printer on an enterprise network and retrieve the documents using a specific code. No print jobs ever leave the organization’s secure firewall.
Help secure your customers’ printing resources.
As their trusted business advisor and IT partner, it’s important for you to review the pros and cons of each approach with your customers so they can choose the best solution for their needs. They will need to assess a variety of factors, including the cost of money, time and resources associated with implementation, as well as the nature and volume of the printing they do.
Whichever way they go, however, it’s essential that they secure their printing resources. With data breaches and cybercrime on the rise, businesses can’t afford not to safeguard their IT infrastructures. To quote the old adage, it’s better to be safe than sorry.