Migrating Your Printing to the Cloud: 8 Questions to Ask
By Jim Lancer | April 19, 2022
Migrating processes to the cloud had become one of the primary ways businesses streamlined operations, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the pace. 2022 has seen this trend continue, with Flexera’s 2022 State of the Cloud report noting that year-over-year cloud spending for small and medium-sized businesses has increased—from 38% of total revenue in 2021 to 53% in 2022.
Migrating print services to the cloud is oftentimes an afterthought, as print systems and hardware can be ingrained as perennial in-office solutions. But this transition is speeding up as well. 2021 research by Quocirca found that two-thirds of respondents expected to adopt cloud print management by 2025, and 39% had already done so.
If you’re considering migrating your printing to the cloud, you’ll know that not all services are created equal. To find out which offering is best for you, there are some key questions you need to ask before pulling the trigger.
8 Questions to Ask Before Moving Print to the Cloud
#1. What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
This question is more something you should ask yourself before you move any of your processes to the cloud, but your print management solution provider should have a good idea of the answer. If they don’t, they may not be the best option.
For most companies, cloud migration can streamline business and make scalability and growth easier in a number of ways. First is cost savings—a cloud printing system, for example, eliminates the cost of print server hardware and the human hours needed to maintain them. Next, security is improved with cloud migration, especially when it comes to print services. Moving to the cloud can also improve employee flexibility and productivity, improve speed-to-market, reduce data loss, and encourage collaboration across different offices and locations.
#2. Do print jobs get moved to or stored in the cloud?
For some organizations, storing print jobs in the cloud may be a concern. This question gets to the heart of security, and it’s the first question any savvy IT department should ask. In fact, at Pharos, we entertain this question in every presentation or demo.
Print-at-Home and Pharos Direct Print jobs do not go into the cloud—they are sent directly to the printer via IPPS/IPP. Job metadata is collected, encrypted, and sent to Pharos Cloud for analytics, but administrators have control over what information gets collected at a regional level to adhere to local data privacy and data sovereignty requirements.
Pharos Secure Release jobs can be configured to be stored either on-premises or in the cloud. Pharos Cloud protects data with end-to-end encryption and encrypts any prints jobs at rest that are awaiting release to a secured printer, leveraging industry standards.
#3. How do you secure the platform and data?
Printers and print infrastructure have been used as an attack vector by hackers, so any cloud-based solution should have security as its highest priority.
Pharos Cloud was built with a relentless focus on security. The cloud-native platform eliminates print server vulnerabilities, protects data with end-to-end encryption, and supports zero trust security principles. The platform has received an A+ rating using the Qualys SSL server test and undergone extensive vulnerability testing and examination from GreyCastle, a top security firm. There’s a reason why some of the largest organizations in the world trust it.
Pharos Cloud is a true cloud platform built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver a safe and scalable web application experience, and Pharos exclusively uses Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers that have achieved an SSAE 16 audit and ISO 27001 security certification covering all IaaS infrastructure and facilities. Additionally, Pharos Cloud uses a tiered application structure to isolate data within the cloud. Pharos conducts periodic vulnerability assessments in all production environments and throughout the development process.
#4. What reporting is available?
Printing has long been a mysterious area for many businesses, and it can be one of the biggest uncontrolled expenses companies face. Can the cloud solution provide you with actionable insights that help you maintain an efficient multi-vendor print fleet and identify opportunities for cost savings through modern and intuitive dashboards that can be customized?
Pharos cloud printing offers a robust analytics and reporting system, providing clarity into the key metrics of your entire print environment, job-level details on how prints are being created, insights to maintain an efficient multi-vendor print fleet, and outliers that could be opportunities for cost savings. Its modern and intuitive dashboards help visualize the key metrics behind a single pane of glass and allow administrators to drill down to individual devices, users, and print jobs—providing the actionable insights needed to optimize print and reduce costs.
#5. How does the solution support remote or hybrid workers?
One of the biggest advantages of migrating any system to the cloud is flexibility and supporting the mobility of your workforce. This is especially important now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work widespread. Can the cloud solution enable your workforce to print wherever they work while providing you visibility, control and security?
Your cloud print provider should enable remote and hybrid employees to print wherever they work. All of this should be done with proper tracking and security in place.
Pharos Print-at-Home gives your remote workforce the ability to print from their work computers to personal printers on their home network, while giving you control and visibility over what’s being printed. Pharos Secure Release enables your hybrid workforce to submit prints from any network (i.e. home, company, cellular, public) and release them from any Pharos-secured printer on the company network.
#6. How does the solution improve productivity?
Part of the reason to migrate to the cloud is to improve efficiency and productivity, both for end users and IT. Besides eliminating print servers, how else will a solution reduce burden on your already-strained IT staff?
Not all cloud platforms are created equal. Pharos Cloud print solutions lessen the burden on IT by eliminating vendor driver management, automatically discovering devices, and auto-populating them in the cloud system. Pharos Cloud also reduces burden on IT with a self-service approach that enables employees to add print devices or invite guests/contractors to print without engaging IT.
#7. How does the solution reduce costs?
Not only should your cloud print management service streamline operations, but it should reduce your print costs as well. Well-designed cloud platforms should leverage your existing multi-vendor print fleet, provide actionable insights to maintain an efficient print fleet and quickly identify outliers, and enable you to create policies that restrict what employees can print and educate them on mindful printing habits
#8. How is the platform or offering going to position me for the future?
It’s clear that the future of business involves cloud solutions in a big way. Many traditional on-premises solutions are already out-of-date, and soon those solutions will become completely obsolete. You want to know that your cloud print provider is continually evolving and active, not just throwing you into an automated cloud du jour system that will itself grow stale as technology evolves.
Pharos has a clear vision for the future and a legacy of innovation. A regular cadence of updates introduces new innovations and capabilities such as Print-at-Home, touchless print release, guest printing, data privacy, and regional document storage to help you support your changing printing requirements. Pharos Cloud enables support for the office print environments of today and prepares for those of tomorrow.
From On-Premises Print Infrastructure to the Cloud: What to Expect
Traditional, on-premises print infrastructure has always been somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming to maintain, and recent technological developments have further underscored the need for a more convenient and reliable solution. Both digital transformation and the need for more secure platforms have driven companies to transition printing to the cloud. But after you decide to make the shift, what should you expect?
Read on to learn what you can expect as you move from an on-prem print infrastructure to the cloud.
What to Expect When Moving Print to the Cloud
When moving print management to the cloud, you can expect considerable benefits stemming from:
- Eliminating print infrastructure
- Gaining visibility into your entire print environment
- Driving IT productivity
- Supporting remote and hybrid users
- Enhancing security
Elimination of Print Infrastructure and Fast Deployment
One of the biggest changes involved when transitioning from on-premises to the cloud is the elimination of print servers. With a traditional print server, you shoulder the costs of hardware and software, as well as the resources required to support their maintenance and operation. Servers come with costs and management issues and are time-consuming for IT to maintain and update. With a cloud-based platform, you eliminate the upfront costs and time spent maintaining and upgrading them. In addition, because there’s less reliance on on-premises hardware, deploying cloud solutions is generally faster.
Visibility Into Your Entire Print Environment
A cloud-based platform enables you to easily centralize print operations. When print is decentralized, you don’t have visibility or insight into all the printing that’s occurring across the enterprise. This means you have no idea of the true print costs, what devices are under- or overutilized, who the individual and department outliers are in terms of costs, or what’s the best way to maintain an efficient fleet. With a cloud print management solution, you can easily and quickly discover print devices and gain visibility across your organization to gain the actionable intelligence needed to maintain an efficient fleet and reduce printing costs.
For example, you could leverage the print data you collect to:
- Gain instant insight into high-level key print metrics and track to custom targets for your entire organization
- Spend less time recording meter reads and more time focusing on preventative action
- Monitor device volumes and utilization trends to recognize changes in your print environment
- Explore top cost outliers (users, departments, and applications) to identify opportunities to automate workflows or reduce unnecessary expenses
Increased IT Productivity
Well-designed cloud platforms not only eliminate print infrastructure, they’re also designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use—reducing the burden on your already strained IT staff. Cloud-based platforms enable administrators to manage their entire print operations from a web browser to easily secure printers, create and manage print policies, monitor fleet status, and view comprehensive analytics.
In addition, well-designed systems eliminate the time-consuming hassle of vendor driver management with a “universal” print driver. With only a single package that supports thousands of printer models across all manufacturers—from low-volume printers to high-volume, multifunction devices, these systems require only a fraction of the administrative overhead of traditional driver management, simplify printing for employees with a common user interface, and reduce troubleshooting vectors for Help Desk staff.
Support Remote and Hybrid Users
The global pandemic changed the way people work. Migrating print to the cloud allows organizations to better support their increasingly mobile and remote workforce. A well-designed cloud platform will allow organizations to support remote employees with the ability to print—while providing visibility and control over their employee’s at-home printing—and support their hybrid workforce with the ability to submit print jobs from any network (even their mobile devices) and print them at any secured printer on the company network.
The increasingly remote workforce and the recent PrintNightmare vulnerabilities have highlighted the importance of including print as part of an organization’s overall security strategy. Well-designed cloud platforms are designed with a relentless focus on security and don’t rely on common attack vectors including print servers and insecure protocols (RAW and LPR printing), protect data with end-to-end encryption, improve document security with secure release workflows, and support zero trust security principles.
Reduced Printing Costs
Migrating your print infrastructure to the cloud enables your organization to considerably save on costs. For example, you can conserve funds by:
- Eliminating costly print servers: Print servers also come with soft costs such as time spent managing hardware and software, electricity costs, data security costs, and physical storage costs.
- Eliminating the need to buy new printers: Well-designed cloud solutions support multi-vendor print fleets, so you can leverage your existing print fleet. Even if you change printer manufacturers, you don’t need to switch print management platforms.
- Leveraging print analytics: Using comprehensive analytics, you can discover ways to identify under/overutilized printers to drive efficiency in your printer fleet, and view job-level details to discover cost outliers and opportunities for workflow automation.
- Creating and enforcing print policies: Well-designed cloud platforms will enable administrators to create and enforce company print policies (i.e. restrict color printing or local printing) and educate users of mindful printing habits (i.e. notification that suggests printing 2-sided or notifying if the document exceeds X pages) at the point of print submission to reduce printing costs.
Cloud Print Infrastructure with Pharos
For every question here, your cloud print management provider should not only have an answer, but have the best answer and be able to give you everything you need and more. From security to flexibility to enhanced productivity, migration to cloud printing should be a major improvement for your business. Pharos Cloud is a comprehensive, secure, and flexible cloud-native print management platform that will help you step into the future.
Pharos Cloud platform is comprised of the following products:
- Pharos Insights provides the actionable intelligence you need to optimize your print environment and reduce costs.
- Pharos Direct Print migrates direct-to-print workflows into the cloud to streamline your print environment by removing print servers and vendor driver management.
- Pharos Print-at-Home provides visibility and control of your employees’ at-home printing—with or without VPN.
- Pharos Secure Release enables employees to submit prints from across platforms, from any network, and to any Pharos-secured device on the company network. It prevents sensitive documents from being left unattended by requiring owner authentication to release the prints.
When you’re ready to take the next step and see just how beneficial migrating your printing to the cloud can be, contact Pharos and request a personalized demo of Pharos Cloud.