As the day to day demands of IT become more and more complex, many companies are seeking ways to simplify their network and use software-defined services instead. Such services reduce the demand for overworked IT admins, make it cheaper and faster to deploy services like servers, and make networks more efficient and easier to manage.

However, up until recently, the printer has been left outside the drive towards faster, more efficient cloud computing. The humble printer is often seen as last generation technology that doesn’t have any urgency to increase efficiency by adding cloud management. But all that changed with the introduction of Managed Print Cloud Services from providers such as Kyocera and PaperCut.

How cloud managed printers can increase efficiency

The traditional way of managing printers on a network is to use print servers to manage print requests and network availability. This requires hardware to be installed and drivers to be updated manually, which is both time consuming and results in vital driver updates being forgotten.

By implementing a software-defined cloud or on-premise managed print solution, such as that from PaperCut, such inefficiencies can be reduced significantly. Because your printer estate is managed from a single console, network admins can see at a glance which printers require updates, while allowing new printers to be deployed on the network quickly and easily, without the need for clumsy configuration settings or print servers.

Efficiency gains are not limited to management and configuration, either; ink, toner and paper levels can also be monitored from the dashboard, without having to drill down into individual printer settings. This allows admins to be automatically notified when ink levels reach critical levels, with some systems such as Kyocera’s Kyo Fleet management solution able to order ink directly from the manufacturer.

Automatic backup and encryption provides peace of mind for network admins

Cloud-managed print services also allow configuration changes to be saved, so if the worst happens and the printer stops working due to corrupted print drivers, the original settings can be restored quickly without a technician having to physically visit the machine. This reduces printer downtime and keeps end users happy, which is, of course, the main aim of any network admin.

As with any cloud deployment, there are concerns about security. This is particularly important for companies that handle sensitive documents, such as accountants and law practices. For this reason, all cloud-based printer management solutions provide full data encryption using HTTPS (SSL/TLS), helping keep your data safe from prying eyes. In most cases, a cloud-based management solution is more secure than a traditional network printer installation.

Value-added print applications that drive efficiency

Efficiency gains don’t stop with cloud management of your printer estate. Further efficiency gains can be made using state of the art print application software. Applications like eCopy Paperworks allow users to format documents, delete text and hide confidential information before printing, without affecting the original document. This is useful for companies that need to print documents that contain confidential information.

In enterprise print environments, it is important to carry out regular print audits to ensure your printer estate is being used optimally and efficiently. In most organisations, this is a manual process that is extremely time-consuming, which results in overworked admins prioritising other areas first. By using print audit software like Rapid Assessment Key (RAK) or Print Audit FM, network admins can carry out print audits quickly and efficiently from the comfort of their desk.

Easy to use and quick to deploy print audit software constantly reviews the workload of all printer devices on the network, giving admins real-time usage data that can be used to ascertain true print costs and optimally deploy printers across the network. For example, it makes it easy to identify a colour printer that spends most of its time printing monochrome documents. Such a device would remain under the radar using traditional print management techniques.

As you can see, the world of printer management has fully embraced the cloud. Your printer estate no longer has to be kept in its own domain. Cloud-based print management software brings your printers in from the cold by fully integrating your printer estate with other network devices and software.

So, say goodbye to individual print servers, updating drivers manually and dreaded manual print audits by giving ASL Group a call to see how managed cloud print services can benefit your company.