Whether it happens in 2019, 2020, or beyond, cloud-based printing will be eventually be the de facto printing solution for all serious businesses. Cloud-based technologies for printing have been in the news lately as companies like Xerox announce innovations such as better security, mobile printing, and intelligent capture. Is it all hype, or is it for real?
What is Cloud-Based Printing?
Cloud-based printing, also known as cloud printing, is a way to connect diverse digital devices such as desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and portable tablets, to a printer (or selection of printers). Some readers may be wondering how cloud-based printing differs from traditional network printing, which has been around for decades and is something every home computer running Windows or Mac has available. Here are some main differences:
Traditional (Wired) Network Printing
Traditional computer printing via the network is still widely used. It is the default method of connecting computers and printers over LANs (local area networks) and home networks. The computer printer(s) can be made accessible to the network via ethernet cable, or perhaps more likely, connected to the network by being attached to a specific computer that connects to the network.
Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks to this approach to network printing. One is that it tends to work best with computers running the same operating system. Having a mixed network of Macs and PCs will typically mean a network will have printers that work only for Windows machines and printers that work only for Mac machines.
This even applies to different versions of an operating system – Windows 10 users will have a much easier time connecting than a Windows Vista user trying to access a printer connected to a Windows 10 computer. With Windows, computers need to be part of the same network “workgroup” and sharing set up in such a way that the printer can be accessible to other computers.
Furthermore, each computer must install driver software for the printer in question. With modern versions of Windows 10, the operating system will often be able to automatically load the appropriate driver. However, if the organization has older printers on the network, the network administrator will need to download and install the appropriate printer driver software on each individual machine that requires access to the printer.
Wi-Fi Enabled Printers
Wi-Fi enabled printers, or wireless printers, make things a little easier for the network administrator. The printer can be a standalone machine that does not require connection via ethernet cable or a computer to be accessible via the network. Instead, the printer has its own internal Wi-Fi, and thus directly connects to the network.
As such, organizations with mixed networks running both PCs and Macs may find this to be a better solution. Computers can connect directly to the printer instead of having to connect to another computer first through the network or a Windows workgroup.
The downside of a wireless printer is that the devices must be near enough to the printer to access it via Wi-Fi. Also, each device must have the printer driver installed.
This means that, typically, the network administrator or computer support technician will still need to set up drivers on all the devices that need access to the wireless printer. Furthermore, this makes it more difficult for mobile devices to use the printer, as they are less likely to have available drivers.
Modern Cloud Printing Services
The future of printing is in the cloud. It is superior to traditional network printing and wireless printers for several reasons.
One of the main factors that makes cloud printing better is that individual devices do not need to install printer drivers to access individual printers. The cloud software handles all of that seamlessly. This reduces compatibility issues and frees up network administrators and technical support staff to handle more important tasks.
Cloud printing services also provide companies with a way to control and optimize printing workflows, which can be critical when large numbers of files need to be managed and printer securely. Centralized software can not only oversee printing queues and monitor security, but keep track of ink cartridges and what needs to be reordered when. With cloud print management, printing becomes more sustainable and eco-friendly in the long run.
Through technology such as Xerox’s ConnectKey technology, users can manage workflows remotely. Xerox cloud print users can also easily manage devices using a tablet-like interface that offers access to network connected apps working with popular SaaS services such as Salesforce and QuickBooks Online.
Is It Time for Cloud-Based Printing to Dominate in 2019?
With more and more companies getting on board the cloud-based printing bandwagon, companies that do not are being left behind. The long-term cost savings, as well as productivity boosts, that result from cloud printing are well worth it.
Zeno Office solutions is a leading provider of cloud-based printing solutions. For more information on upgrading your printer ecosystem, contact our team today!