Thanks to the internet and the cloud, today so much of our work lives happens online… but somehow printing is still a crucial part of many business processes. At the same time, we know it comes with costs, wastage, and an environmental impact.
That’s where cloud printing comes in, helping your business save on paper and printing. But before you chuck out your clunky on-premise print servers, stick around to find out how to really make the most of cloud printing solutions.
What is a cloud print solution and why should you care?
Cloud printing allows you to print from any device to any printer – without having to hook up drivers, cables, or servers. Basically, it uses the internet to connect your devices to print services in the cloud, which process your print jobs and send them to a printer.
And here’s why it matters: cloud printing can reduce your print volume and infrastructure costs, while offering greater flexibility and convenience. It’s also a way of lessening your environmental impact by optimizing your print settings and using eco-friendly materials and devices. Great for the trees (and your sustainability goals) AND great for your business!
But there’s one more thing…. cloud printing also lets you track your print data so you have total visibility of what, when, where, and why you are printing.
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The dark side of cloud printing: challenges and risks you need to know
Okay, so far so good… there’s got to be a catch, right? The downside of cloud printing is that it can come with some security risks, depending on the type of cloud computing you’re using:
- Private cloud is a self-hosted computing resource owned and accessed by your company alone. This is about as secure as cloud can be, since you have your own data centre and your printing doesn’t go anywhere near the public internet.
- Public cloud is where computing storage and software is hosted on the world wide web that can be accessed by different users and companies (think Dropbox or Google Drive). This comes with the same security risks as anything that’s online – there are ways of protecting your data, but also clever hackers might find a way to sneak through.
- Hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private cloud services, where an organization has their own business storage but also uses public cloud services like Microsoft 365. And as we just mentioned, public cloud can carry its own risks.
How to leverage cloud print solutions securely and efficiently: best practices and tips
Do a print assessment. The first step to efficient cloud printing is to understand your current print situation and behaviours. A managed print services (MPS) provider can conduct and print audit and analysis, to find out how much, what, where, and why you print. This will help you identify areas for improvement and set realistic goals for reducing your print volume.
Adopt cloud print solutions. As well as helping you print less and save paper, cloud printing protects your print jobs with authentication and encryption to prevent unauthorized access to confidential information. It also gives you the option to change your print settings to reduce your ink and paper usage. You can speak to an MPS provider about the best solutions and services for your organization, and how to make a seamless transition to cloud printing that involves your team and IT staff.
Monitor your print activity. By regularly monitoring and evaluating your printing, you’ll find ways to reduce paper consumption over time. An MPS provider can generate reports tracking your print volumes, paper, and costs. Data-driven insights will enable you to eliminate wasteful printing practices, allocate your print budget, and ultimately improve your print performance and efficiency.
How to choose a reliable cloud print management provider
You want to choose a reliable and reputable cloud print management provider with the best technological solutions and support for your business. But most importantly, they need to ensure that your connection with the cloud is secure.
PaperCut’s public cloud print software, PaperCut Hive and PaperCut Pocket, protects print data in a number of ways. Firstly, it uses Edge Mesh technology which allows you to configure your print job paths so that they never have to touch the cloud – instead they stay on your network and move between on-premise devices. This makes the cloud a print job coordinator, while your print jobs stay local.
PaperCut software authenticates the user and their device every single time you interact with the system, adding an extra layer of protection. Then to ramp print security up even further, all the data on the print job path is fully encrypted, making it incomprehensible to anyone who might have access to the network – whether that’s a hacker or Karen from Accounts.
If your print document does need to talk to the cloud – for example, if you’re sending a print job from home and then collecting at the office – it is also encrypted. That means the data is secured both when the print job is sitting in the cloud waiting to be released, and when it’s moving from your device to the print queue to the printer. The only way to decrypt the data is by using three different keys together: a user key, an organization key, and a random key.
So that’s how PaperCut proves its reliability as a cloud print management provider. But you should also check that your service provider complies with the principles of data regulations and security standards, and is able to show you the relevant security certificates.