6 advantages of cloud print services

Quocirca’s Cloud Print Services 2020 report reveals the opportunities for managed print service (MPS) providers and their customers in transitioning to a cloud-based print infrastructure.  The report highlights the key offerings from manufacturers and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) in the market and discusses the potential for cloud to disrupt the traditional model of procuring and managing the print infrastructure.

The promise of higher levels of availability, on-demand capacity, low-cost storage and a broad digital ecosystem is accelerating cloud adoption. This is creating opportunities for MPS providers to deliver cloud-based service offerings that overcome the challenges of traditional on-premise print management. Today, most cloud print service offerings encompass a range of private, public and hybrid cloud options to address the varying multi-cloud needs of customers as they transition from an on-premise to a cloud model.

 The challenges of traditional on-premise print infrastructure

Traditional on-premise print management is complex and costly, often requiring multiple servers to manage print job submission, authentication, accounting and device monitoring.

In particular, print servers are expensive to acquire, maintain and upgrade and often lack central management. According to Quocirca’s Cloud Print Services Study, on average, the initial cost to an organisation of acquiring and provisioning a print server amounts to approximately £1,900, with ongoing running costs of around £1,500 per year.  An average organisation has 3 print servers, so costing close to £6,000 in CapEx/provisioning, followed by £4,500 in OpEx costs per annum.

On top of this, tasks such as driver installation, device configuration, firmware updates and app deployment can create a significant IT burden on already stretched IT resources.

The emergence of cloud-based print management

Cloud print platforms and services are emerging as a way of minimising the cost, lowering the burden and improving the efficiency of operating an on-premise print infrastructure. Depending on whether it is a private, public or hybrid model, cloud print management shifts print management tasks to the cloud and eliminates or reduces reliance on local print servers.

However, the shift from the on-premise management of a legacy print infrastructure to the cloud is not always straightforward. Consequently, an organisation may favour a hybrid model which provides a mix of on-premise and cloud (public cloud or private cloud) deployment. This can help retain flexibility around security policies and regulations such as GDPR and ensure built-in redundancy ensuring print devices are always available.

Key benefits of cloud print services

A cloud-based print infrastructure offers the following benefits:

  1. Cost reduction. Moving to a cloud-based subscription model avoids capital expenditure and lowers operating costs associated with traditional on-premise print management platforms. By moving print servers to the cloud, not only are financial costs reduced but also energy costs from operating on-premise print servers, which are often underutilised.
  2. Reduced IT burden. A cloud print infrastructure is managed by a third-party provider, leaving IT teams able to focus on more strategic activities. Through a single, central platform, administrators can update printer drivers, edit printer profiles, implement print policies for optimised routing, and assign/map printers to users.
  3. Support for virtual computing environments. As workforce mobility increases, virtual computing is becoming more prevalent, for instance through the deployment of VMware virtual machine (VM) and Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) systems. Some leading cloud print management platforms overcome the technical issues associated with providing access to print resources for virtual computing users, providing consistent access to the print infrastructure.
  4. Flexibility and security. Cloud print platforms enable convenient anywhere, anytime, any device printing for mobile workers. Print jobs can be released from any print device through secure user authentication. With most cloud print platforms hosted by public providers such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, customers can be assured of the resilience and security that is built into these services.
  5. Enhanced analytics. Most advanced cloud print platforms offer analytics around print usage, with some integrating with best of breed business intelligence tools such as Microsoft Power BI.
  6. Access to technological innovation. A cloud-based platform is scalable and can adapt dynamically to the changing needs of the business. New functionality can be rapidly implemented either for all users or for a subset of them. It can also better support the rapid delivery of other associated solutions or initiatives such as digitisation, security and analytics.

The future will be driven by multi-cloud and hybrid models

As cloud adoption is only set to increase, it becomes an imperative that industry players can articulate a strong cloud proposition in order to continue to be relevant in a cloud and subscription-driven IT landscape.

The cloud transforms the traditional MPS business model – from transactional and product-centric, to value-centric. Cloud platforms provide a major opportunity for channel partners to expand their value-led service offerings and deliver flexible and scalable solutions to their customers.

“Cloudified” MPS providers that offer businesses a multi-cloud and/or hybrid approach that supports their journey will be best positioned to succeed.

Quocirca’s Cloud Print Services 2020 report includes practical and strategic recommendations for cloud print buyers and suppliers, plus a detailed insight into the cloud print offerings from major industry players.

The following vendors are profiled in the report: Canon, HP Inc., Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Lexmark, Ricoh, Xerox, EveryonePrint, One Q, PaperCut, Printix, Process Fusion (formerly UniPrint) and Y Soft.

Find out more about Quocirca’s Cloud Print Services 2020 Research

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