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How to integrate cloud printing with your existing IT systems and workflows

So you think you’re ready to dabble in cloud printing? That’s great! Cloud printing does wonders for workflow automation, user experience, and - if you’re a sysadmin - your cortisol levels. It’s the logical next step for organizations that have outgrown traditional print environments.

But before you jump into the world of cloud print, it’s worth hitting pause and assessing your current IT infrastructure. Because the worst thing you can do right now is migrate a system over to the cloud without the proper integration – that just creates more headaches for everyone. Compatibility, security and compliance, user experience, scalability and performance – there are a lot of factors to consider when moving to cloud printing.

Assessing cloud printing compatibility

First things first, let’s look at how ready your organization is for cloud printing.

Printer compatibility. Start by auditing your current printers. How many do you have, and are they all internet-compatible? If not, you’ll need to factor in the cost of replacement during migration. Of course using a print management solution like PaperCut means you can continue to use your existing fleet whether cloud-ready or not.

Operating system support. Your cloud print solution should support your OS, whether that’s Windows, macOS, Linux or Android. Best practice is to pick a device-agnostic cloud print platform, so your users can print from any device.

Network infrastructure. Check your wireless networks, firewalls, proxies and network protocols. These will all affect your connectivity between client devices and cloud printers. Make sure you pick a cloud print solution that supports standard network protocols, too, like TCP/IP, SNMP, or HTTPS.

Authentication control. Whatever cloud print product you go with, it needs to integrate with your existing authentication controls. User access control is critical for cloud print, so check to see if the new platform syncs with common identity management systems, like Active Directory or LDAP.

Compliance and security. It probably goes without saying, but make sure your cloud print provider has strong security features and protocols in place. Depending on your industry and geography, you may also need to find one that’s compliant with any relevant data privacy legislation.

Integrations and APIs. Ideally, you want a cloud printing solution that plays well with your existing apps, software and platforms. Check the provider’s integrations list (if they have one) and do your research before pulling the trigger.

Centralized management for a distributed workforce

Here’s the balance you want from cloud printing: centralized management, decentralized users. The beauty of cloud printing is that it allows your users to print from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s why cloud printing and hybrid work go hand-in-hand.

Integrate with directory services. Your cloud printing solution needs to integrate with your organization’s directory services, such as Active Directory or LDAP. This will give you centralized authentication and access control.

Robust controls. Sysadmins should have the entire cloud network at their fingertips, including all endpoint devices, all printers, and all the basic cloud metrics. Look for cloud printing providers with a great centralized dashboard and flexible admin controls.

Enable mobile printing. Most organizations will configure their cloud print solution to support mobile and remote printing. That’s kind of the point. You may need to provide users with mobile apps, or web-based printing portals, that allow them to submit jobs from their tablets, laptops, and even smart phones.

Print queue management. The real perk of cloud printing is having one centralized print queue management dashboard. This helps with job routing and efficiency, making sure the right jobs go to the right printer, and avoiding system bottlenecks.

Integration with existing authentication systems

Integrating your cloud printing with existing authentication systems usually involves hooking up the cloud print management solution to your organization’s identity management infrastructure. Most cloud print providers make this pretty easy these days. The ultimate goal is centralized user authentication and access control, so your sysadmins can remotely grant, block and tweak user access, ideally based around principles of least privilege.

Single Sign-On (SSO) Integration. Some businesses go with Single Sign-On (SSO) integration between their cloud print management solution and the organization’s identity provider. This lets users sign in to cloud print using their existing corporate credentials.

Directory Services Integration. Another way is to integrate cloud printing with your organization’s directory services, such as Active Directory or LDAP, to sync all the accounts, groups and users in one place. This lets cloud print check authentication against your directory, including all existing user roles and permissions

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Support. It’s always best practice to enable multi-factor authentication in your cloud print setup. This might involve additional verification factors, like SMS codes, biometric authentication, or hardware tokens/printer cards. You can read more about PaperCut’s MFA support over here .

Automating print workflows

Workflow automation is one of the real perks of cloud print. With the right settings and systems, you can automate jobs that used to take your IT team weeks and weeks. Here are just a few ideas for cloud printing automation ( we’ve got plenty more ):

Print job submission automation. With automated print job submission mechanisms, print queues become an absolute breeze. Users can submit jobs to the cloud print queue from anywhere, and those jobs get automatically fielded out to the relevant printer, all based on the predefined rules, priorities or routing criteria you want. Simple!

Print queue management. Most of our users set up automated rules for things like job prioritization, scheduling and load balancing. This makes your entire cloud print environment much more efficient. It’s also a good idea to implement auto-scaling, so you can shift resources up or down based on demand.

Manage account balances and transactions. Need to monitor user print volumes? You can set up automated rules to extract data and feed it into whatever monitoring tools or spreadsheets you like. Other rules can automatically limit user printing, or set default print preferences to save paper and ink.

Scalability and flexibility

In an ideal world, your cloud print solution should scale with your business and user demand. Both up and down. And most cloud printing providers offer this feature now. Look for things like auto-scaling, elastic scaling, and dynamic resource provisioning. They all mean basically the same thing: a cloud printing platform that grows with your existing IT infrastructure.

There are a couple of other things to keep in mind here. You should design your cloud print infrastructure for high availability and fault tolerance to ensure continuous access and minimize your downtime. Implement redundant components, load balancers, and failover mechanisms to distribute printer traffic, mitigate single points of failure and maintain service uptime during busy periods. This is especially important for organizations that experience heavy seasonal printing demand – we’re looking at you, universities.

Environmental sustainability

If you already have an ESG strategy that’s geared around hitting certain sustainability metrics, it only makes sense for cloud printing to follow suit. The good news is, a cloud print management solution is inherently more sustainable : it stops documents from automatically printing, allows you to set sustainable printer default options, like duplex and black-and-white printing, and reports on user print activity, so you can track exactly who in the office printed that 1000-page Q3 performance report…

Before you pull the trigger and choose a cloud print provider, just take the time to check their ESG credentials. For our part, PaperCut has a long history of sustainability – it’s actually our mission to get everyone printing less!

Cost management and reduction

Will cloud printing save you money? There’s no way to accurately answer that without knowing your system and print volumes, but the answer is: probably yes. With cloud printing, you can set cost-cutting measures as default print formats, prompting users to print double-sided, or in black-and-white. You can implement Find-Me printing , which cuts down on accidental or unnecessary print jobs. Best of all, you can streamline your IT print management, which means your team spends less time installing print drivers, and more time optimizing your IT infrastructure.

Enhancing user experience

Cloud print is a dream for sysadmins and IT managers, but it’s also great for users. It offers device agnostic printing from anywhere, so users can print from any device. It enables remote printing, so users can print on the go, from home or the road. It’s more secure than traditional print environments, and (with the right setup) offers seamless user authentication and access controls. No-one wants to get stalled at the MFD, or run into driver trouble, or find themselves locked out of the system. With cloud printing, you can minimize or alleviate most of these problems, providing a slick, flexible experience for users.



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