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Why It’s Critical to Move Print Services to the Cloud

6 Apr, 2015 By: Dave Lange

The growth of print services and enterprise print software has reached the point where the move towards cloud based services is not only attractive, but essential. Printer device data collection and services based on that data will take advantage of the cloud platform similar to how many enterprise functions rely on cloud based services.

Here are five reasons why organizations and printer service providers will benefit from moving print services to the cloud.

1. Consistent, Secure and Transparent IT Footprint. The traditional advantages of the cloud not only hold true when developing and maintaining both device data collection and print service software, but are becoming of greater importance. On-premise code deployment can be limited by restrictions to network, operating system (OS) and storage, as well as local organization timetables and resource requirements. With a cloud based service environment, new services can be made available immediately and ‘enabled’ for a customer at the appropriate time.  Additionally, and arguably of greater importance, is the ability to immediately deploy security patches for all customers. Delays in deploying critical security updates to on premise software due to scheduling logistics is becoming an unacceptable business risk.

Transparency across all operating resources is another key benefit of a cloud environment. Monitoring of local resources may be restricted or non-existent; however, the consistent fabric and availability of cloud systems greatly simplify resource monitoring. Cloud providers generally supply rich monitoring and alert tooling, along with the ability to incorporate third-party monitoring services. Cloud providers often support role based security for managing resources, and audit logs and reports documenting all resource changes.

2. Multi-Client Platform. Deploying cloud based printer services opens up these services to all internet connected clients. Client applications taking advantage of the portable, location aware devices such as tablets, mobile and wearables will introduce new functionality not possible with siloed, standalone client applications. The client’s access to the internet is further enabled with the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices and their access points. The delivery of print device data and status to the cloud can take advantage of these local IoT networks for not only cloud availability, but command and control as well.

3. Multi Service Platform. New, unforeseen business opportunities will emerge in a cloud connected device ecosystem similar to how the integration of siloed business systems led to many new enterprise software opportunities in organizations. Print services living in the cloud can easily and securely access third party services and data. Likewise, these print services can be exposed more publicly and monetize via typical pay-per-use service business models.

4. Scalability and Elasticity. The growth of connected devices is somewhat unpredictable, observing that devices are rarely added in a consistent manner. Often devices are ‘connected’ en masse at the division or organization level, introducing large spikes of resource usage in the cloud service. Mature tooling for rapid cloud deployment, real-time resource monitoring and elastic load balancing can be used to ensure that there are available computer resources to handle these spikes.

While the peak resource requirements on a service may continuously increase due to the growth of connected devices or users, the usage throughout a day may greatly fluctuate. Print devices or aggregator servers may be configured to send usage data at specific times or intervals. Scaling resources to meet peak requirements and ignoring this periodic fluctuation in load will result in unused Central Processing Unit (CPU) time. A key feature of a cloud platform is its elasticity - its ability to add or remove resources dynamically to match load requirements. ‘Auto scale’ functionality combines the ability to monitor resources in real time with rapid deployment and elastic load balancing to match resource load with resource availability. If peak requirements occur during well-defined timeframes, i.e., requiring more server resources between 2AM and 4AM, an auto scale schedule can be configured. This more efficiently matches resources with requirements, but in a cost predictable manner.

5. Big Data and Analytics. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to make device data available to cloud services is the opportunity for ‘Big Data’ analysis and real-time analytics. Big data refers to using statistical algorithms on a large amount of information to model aspects of a business. Combining these models with real-time analytics opens the door for new business opportunities.

Globally available data is critical for identifying patterns across customers, providing early warning on potential issues, or improvements in global supply chain management. Predictive models can be used to classify a customer as a potential upsell candidate or detect maintenance situations. Real-time analytics enable context-aware services and smart service routing.

Dave Lange is the vice president of engineering for PrintReleaf, provider of The PrintReleaf Exchange [PRX], a cloud-based program that converts paper consumption into trees. Reach him at dlange@printreleaf.com. For company info and partnerships visit http://www.PrintReleaf.com

About the Author: Dave Lange

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