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Multi-cloud: Scaling print services in multi-cloud environments

So you’re looking at a multi-cloud strategy. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Multi-cloud is in an interesting state right now. As Ravi Naik famously said, an ideal multi-cloud solution would allow workloads to be migrated on, off, and among different clouds, with no lock-ins, no performance throttling, and no penalties for pulling data off and moving it around. Unfortunately that world doesn’t exist – yet. Multi-cloud environments at the moment are mostly repositories: we can put data in, but we can’t easily get it out.

So what does this all mean for scaling your print environment? The crux of the issues is getting your cloud providers to “talk” to each other. And for that, we need something called ‘ multi-cloud networking ’.

What is a multi-cloud environment?

Most organizations won’t need anything more complex than one cloud provider and a single cloud-based print server. That should do the trick for 90% of businesses, especially SMEs. The challenge occurs when you get more complex and more geographically diverse. Suddenly one cloud isn’t enough.

Multi-cloud refers to the use of multiple cloud computing services from different cloud service providers, all running and synching at once. This might be any combination of AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud, GCP, or others.

What’s the benefit of multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud is complex and tricky to get right, but it does come with some sweet perks. Perk number one: avoiding vendor lock-in. By diversifying your cloud environment, you can prevent the classic vendor lock-in trap. There’s also enhanced redundancy and data recovery, thanks to the distributed workloads across multiple cloud platforms.

Another perk: cost optimization. Instead of buying a package deal from one cloud provider, you can select the most cost-effective solution for each specific workload, taking advantage of pricing differences and squeezing every dollar for maximum value.

What’s multi-cloud networking?

Remember how we said the traditional problem of multi-cloud is that cloud providers aren’t great at talking to each other? Well, multi-cloud networking (mostly) solves that issue. It provides connectivity between services across multiple public and private clouds, data centers, and any SaaS providers.

Think of it like an umbrella, sitting above your multi-cloud platforms, facilitating data transfer between all of them. Multi-cloud networking is what allows multi-cloud environments to scale. It’s a single interface that gives you real-time visibility over your multi-cloud setup.

Challenges of scaling a multi-cloud environment

Multi-cloud has some notorious hurdles, which is why many organizations avoid it, sticking with a single CSP. There’s monitoring, administration, security concerns, data transfers, performance issues, and the management of resources. Just to name a few.

Platform expertise. The more cloud platforms you add to your architecture, the bigger the burden you place on IT. Sysadmins in multi-cloud environments need to be up-to-speed on every platform’s unique features, tools, patches and security exploits.

Integration and interoperability. Ensuring seamless integration between multiple cloud platforms and services is a pain, often requiring custom configuration and development (which can really squeeze your cloud budget).

Performance and latency. Transferring data between different cloud providers can be slow and inefficient, which really throttles your overall network performance. This is especially true for organizations dealing with large volumes of data.

Security and compliance. In general, the more complexity you add to a system, the more vulnerable it becomes, and multi-cloud environments can be prone to security issues. Juggling policies, access controls, patches and compliance across multiple cloud platforms is tough.

Scaling your print services in multi-cloud

If you’re running multi-cloud, and you want to scale your print services, you essentially need a print management solution that’s compatible with multiple cloud providers, services and platforms.

Find the right vendor. Start with good cloud print management software. Finding a cloud print vendor with the necessary server infrastructure, expertise, and support for multi-cloud is essential. Look for the words ‘cloud native’ on the box.

Implement redundancies. By deploying your print servers across multiple cloud providers, you’re boosting your network redundancy and failover capability. Make sure you configure print servers and queues in each cloud environment, to handle failover in case of service disruption.

Optimize your network. For multi-cloud to work and scale, you need robust network connectivity between your organization’s locations and relevant cloud print service providers. Try using content delivery networks (CDNs) or edge computing to reduce latency.

Use print management. Your cloud print management platform should support a multi-cloud environment. If it doesn’t, shop elsewhere. Pick a platform that gives you centralized management, monitoring and reporting capabilities.

Implement load balancing. With load balancing, you can distribute print requests evenly – even across multiple cloud print service providers! We’ve covered load balancing in more detail over here .

Horizontal or vertical? When it comes to scaling your cloud print environment, you can go vertical or horizontal . Multi-cloud is an example of horizontal scalability, and it usually makes sense if your print volumes are increasing in a linear fashion (as opposed to seasonal ebbs and flows).

Make a plan. An often-overlooked step. Scaling cloud print infrastructure is complex, and we want to minimize business downtime. You need a step-by-step plan detailing the entire boosting process. Make sure to factor in printer upgrades, installation periods, network configuration and educating employees! Multi-cloud only works when the whole team understands its potential.

Integrating legacy systems into multi-cloud

Unless you’re starting a multi-cloud environment from scratch, you’re going to need to factor in legacy systems:

Protocol compatibility. Choose a cloud print service provider that supports integration with various legacy print protocols, such as LPD, LPR, IPP and SMB. PaperCut can help here .

Print gateway solutions. Need a cloud translator? Deploy print gateway solutions that act as intermediaries between legacy print systems and cloud print service providers.

Install print clients. Install print client software on legacy systems to facilitate communication with cloud print services. Make sure your print client software supports the necessary legacy print protocols.

Configure network connectivity. If multi-cloud is going to work, you need robust network connectivity between legacy print systems and the cloud print services. Implement network configs, such as VPN or direct peering, to establish secure and reliable communication between the two systems.


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