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What is cloud networking?

Right now, we’re guessing that one of the biggest print questions you get beyond “where is the toner” is “How can I print from my smartphone, laptop, PC or tablet from <insert location>”. Cloud printing is going to be your answer, either as full print enablement over the cloud, or with software that provides print management in the cloud. But with several cloud networking options on the table, what’s the best way to enable this?

Luckily, our print geeks are here to help with an exploration of cloud networking and its role in cloud printing. We’ll cover the connection between cloud networking and printing, security challenges, the environmental impact and more.

Let’s jump in.

Demystifying cloud networking for print

Cloud networking (sometimes known as virtual cloud networking) refers to cloud services used by companies to host their networking resources. And cue spoiler: there would be no cloud printing without cloud networking. Cloud networking offers a ton of benefits for busy IT teams — including greater scalability, flexibility, and cost savings.

You can choose from a number of cloud networking solutions, including:

  • Public cloud Using public cloud to access SaaS print management solutions your infrastructure is shared and used by multiple users — from individuals to companies. This is typically a more scalable solution than private cloud offerings.
  • Virtual private cloud This arrangement offers an additional layer of privacy and security for businesses as it’s hosted within your organization’s private servers.
  • Hybrid cloud As the name suggests, the hybrid cloud gives businesses the best of both, with all the privacy of the virtual cloud with the low costs and scalability of the public cloud.

Regardless of the cloud networking environment you choose, to get those all-important documents into your hands, the printer you use needs to be connected via a network hosted on the cloud and you need software that can enable printing outside your business network.

This could be a fully cloud-based solution like Cloud printing which offers full print enablement via the cloud or a feature like Mobile printing also known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) printing that can allow printing either from a print management solution stored on your own servers, or one hosted in the cloud.

With cloud networking for print, freedom and flexibility are the name of the game - in a way that makes it easy for sysadmin to support. You can enable users to print from any connected device — from wherever they are. Cloud printing also typically delivers some neat cost savings. That’s because you may not need to cover the expense of buying, installing, and maintaining your print servers and devices in-house (because don’t we all have better things to do?).

Security challenges and solutions

Like all good things on the cloud, cloud networking is vulnerable to a number of threats, such as malware attacks and data breaches. You can also come up against particular security issues based on the type of cloud networking you use.

As we note above, the private cloud offers an added layer of privacy and security for businesses. In comparison, the public cloud comes with the potential for bigger security risks. Because there are multiple users able to access the public cloud, this type of cloud network makes you more vulnerable to data breaches and hackers. With the hybrid cloud, a higher number of users can jump between different networks — making it harder for you and your provider to easily track malicious users.

Luckily, the best cloud network providers offer security measures to help protect your networks. Many providers offer real-time traffic monitoring and threat detection alongside data encryption. On your side, you can make use of firewalls, a schedule of regular updates and patches, data encryption and user identification and verification (including role-based access and multi-factor identification) to help protect your networks.

Integration with existing IT infrastructure

With cloud networking, you can easily and quickly integrate and scale your IT infrastructure with your cloud network. You will likely need a virtual or physical router in order to connect to your provider’s cloud network. A digital router can offer you more flexibility, while a physical router will typically be provided by your cloud service provider.

To successfully integrate cloud networking with your existing infrastructure, you need to put a plan in place. Provide onboarding and training to every user — showing them how to securely use the network alongside existing tools and platforms.

We also recommend that you put baseline metrics in place to help you measure performance, usability, reliability, and security. You can use these benchmark metrics to compare how your provider performs and understand how to get the most out of your service. Last but not least, make sure you back up your data with a cloud service provider to protect against data loss.

Environmental impact and sustainability

Ready for a shocker? The cloud now boasts a bigger carbon footprint than the airline industry. That means that the cloud is now responsible for a quarter and 1.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

On the plus side, thanks to the cloud, you can use and scale resources based on your needs and swerve using unnecessary energy on resources based on your need. As such, the more you can reduce the data you generate and hold on your cloud network, the more you can potentially reduce your environmental impact.

Professor Wim Vanderbauwhede, lead researcher of the Low Carbon and Sustainable Computing project at the School of Computing Science of the University of Glasgow, dubs this “frugal computing”. He recommends companies zero in on treating computing resources as a “finite resource” with the end goal of achieving the same results with less energy.

Cloud networking performance optimization techniques

There are a ton of techniques and tools you can use to optimize your network performance. You can use content delivery networks (AKA CDNs) to help reduce latency. CDNs are a network of interconnected servers designed to deliver your data quickly and securely. You can also use load balancing to distribute your network across multiple resources — boosting performance and availability.

Another awesome way to optimize performance? Focus on auto-scaling resources based on demand to accommodate traffic spikes and burn through less resources during low-traffic periods. With this elasticity, you can help ensure the best performance at the lowest cost.

Choosing the right cloud print service provider

Here are some key things to consider when choosing the right cloud networking provider for your cloud printing needs:

  • Security measures Reputable service providers should be fully compliant with privacy and security measures. As we explored above, the best of the best will offer several security features to put your mind at ease — such as data encryption and traffic monitoring.
  • Performance When breaking down your list of top providers be sure to take a look on their site for any performance metrics. How reliable and scalable are their networks? Can they handle big traffic spikes with ease?
  • Reputation It’s always good to get an insider’s view on any cloud solution. For each provider, check out online reviews from reputable sites like G2. Read up on reliability, affordability, pros and cons, customer service and more.
  • Commitment to sustainability It’s true that printing, regardless of where you choose to host, has an environmental impact which we can all help to reduce. Make sure your cloud provider has green plans and targets in place. Come armed with the big questions: do they approach energy usage in a sustainable way? Are they making use of reusable resources? How are they reducing their carbon footprint and how can they help you reduce yours?

Get the benefits of cloud networking and cloud printing with PaperCut

Before you jump into the world of cloud networks for cloud printing, you need to understand the security risks, have your sustainable practices down, know how to suss out the right provider and have a plan for successfully integrating your IT infrastructure with your provider’s cloud network.

At PaperCut, we’ve been delivering industry-leading cloud print management software to businesses around the world for over 20 years. That’s over 139 million users. 89,000+ organizations. And 195 (and counting) countries. We set out to deliver fast, secure, and speedy printing on any device.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can use our cloud print services in your business, just hit the big green button below.

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