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What is scalability and why is it important for cloud printing?

How elastic is your print environment right now? If demand spiked 20%, or the business grew rapidly over the next six months, would your print infrastructure be able to keep up? Beyond the scientific accuracy of the movie Dune, these are the kind of questions that keep sysadmins up at night, and they go to the heart of a buzzword that’s on everyone’s lips right now: scalability.

What is cloud printing scalability?

Scalability is simply the ability of a system to handle increased demand without compromising performance or quality. In the case of cloud printing and cloud print solutions, scalability refers to your print performance and volume. Can you keep printing the amount you need, at the speed and quality you need, whenever you need it?

The beauty of cloud printing has always been its flexibility: because your print infrastructure is hosted off-site, it’s much easier to ramp up volumes and performance. There are no unwieldy server banks to keep track of – your cloud service provider handles all that for you.

Seasonal fluctuations. In businesses where printing depends on seasonal factors, like promotions, back-to-school printing, last-minute rushes, or public holidays, print demand can jump unexpectedly. If your network isn’t ready for these spikes, performance can suffer as a result.

Business growth. Growth is the goal of most businesses, but what happens when your business outgrows its print environment? Well, you typically have two choices, invest heavily in on-premise IT architecture, or go to the cloud. Both of these have their pros and cons.

Mergers and acquisitions. If your organization has just merged with another, chances are your print infrastructure is a mess. There’s user access controls to sort out, and a huge increase in overall print volume. Scalable cloud print solutions can help alleviate many of these issues.

The limitations of on-premise printing

Hosting your print servers onsite comes with some great advantages – such as end-to-end control and improved data sovereignty – but there are downsides too. The big ones being cost and – there’s that word again - scalability. On-premise print servers require significant up-front cost, not to mention ongoing maintenance. There’s the servers themselves, the printers, the networking equipment, the IT man hours. It all adds up. This makes on-premise printing unfeasible for a lot of small companies and startups.

Scalability is another big challenge. Because your printing infrastructure is hosted on-premise, when it’s time to scale, you literally need more space. Your ability to support the needs of your business is limited by your hardware, your config changes, and how quickly you can manually intervene. None of which is great for an agile business looking to grow, or expand nationally or overseas.

Scalability options when it comes to cloud printing

Cloud printing offers a bunch of different scalability features and benefits. It’s one of the platform’s big selling points: because your infrastructure is hosted off-site, it can be quickly ramped up or down, depending on demand.

Elastic scaling. Cloud printing solutions offer elastic scaling, which means resources can scale up or down dynamically based on user demand. This lets organizations easily adjust printing capacity to accommodate fluctuations in volumes, seasonal spikes, or business growth, with zero upfront investment. Nifty.

Auto-scaling. Cloud printing can also automatically scale resources in response to changing workloads, user demands or system metrics. Auto-scaling features dynamically adjust print server capacity, processing power and storage resources based on predefined thresholds or metrics. This ensures optimal performance and responsiveness, without any pesky manual intervention.

On-Demand provisioning. Cloud print platforms enable on-demand provisioning of resources, allowing organizations to quickly deploy new print servers or print queues whenever they need them. This means you can scale printing infrastructure on the fly, support new printing initiatives, or expand printing operations into new locations or markets.

Geographic expansion. Moving overseas? ** ** Cloud printing provides centralized management and control over printing resources across multiple locations or regions. It doesn’t matter where you’re based. Organizations can easily deploy and manage print infrastructure in new locations, scale printing capacity, and ensure consistent printing experiences for users worldwide.

Impact of scalability on business continuity

Business continuity is critical these days. In a hyper-connected world, where everyone’s online 24/7, downtime isn’t just bad for the bottom line, it’s a black mark on your brand. This is where cloud print scalability comes in.

Cloud print generally means you’ve got redundant infrastructure and high availability configurations to ensure continuous access to printing services, even in the event of hardware failures, system outages or disruptions. This is because cloud print offers the advantage of being able to scale horizontally by deploying multiple instances across geographically distributed data centers: in other words, no more single point of failure!

Scalability and cost optimization

Cost savings and optimization is all about only paying for what you actually need. So how do you know what you need? That’s where cloud print management comes in. With total visibility over your print environment, and historical print data at your fingertips, you can accurately predict exactly what ‘normal’ printing looks like, and how long a given spike might last. This lets you plan your resources accordingly: scale up the servers when you need to, shrink them down when you don’t.

Cloud print solutions can also automatically adjust printing resources based on workload, user demand, or system metrics, so you can make sure your resources are allocated efficiently. Elastic scaling. Flexible capacity planning. Cost transparency and control. Great words to have on your end of year performance review and cloud printing does it all.

Security concerns in a scalable environment

Scalability comes with a cost, and that cost is sometimes a more complex security environment. Not necessarily a less secure environment, just one that needs a bit more thought and coordination. The distributed nature of the cloud print infrastructure, and the increased accessibility it provides, can open your organization up to potential threats that wouldn’t exist in an on-premise print environment.

Still, it’s not a reason to avoid the cloud. Not only do cloud print platforms have robust security controls these days, there are plenty of things organizations and sysadmins can do to alleviate the risk:

Encryption. Implement end-to-end encryption protocols to protect data at rest and in transit. These include HTTPS, SSL/TLA and others.

Access control. Use strong authentication mechanisms and multi-factor authentication to keep unauthorized users off the system.

Print job security. With secure print release and Find-Me printing , only authorized users can release print jobs at the MFD. Combine this feature with MFA for an efficient security double up.

Secure print policies. It’s generally a good idea to configure print servers and queues to automatically delete or purge print jobs after printing.

Network segmentation. Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket. Segment your printer network based on department or user roles to isolate any potential breaches.

Risk assessments. Conduct regular risks assessments, user training, and security patching to keep your printer security up-to-date.


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