How to Choose the Right Cloud Printing Solution: 9 Tips from Quocirca

In its June 2023 report, The Cloud Print Services Market Landscape, analyst firm Quocirca examines the current cloud print services market and the status quo in enterprises. A total of 507 IT decision-makers were surveyed in March 2023. In addition to interesting insights into the market, Quocirca also nine helpful tips for companies to choose the right cloud printing solution.

If you want to read more than the tips, but are interested in an abridged version of all the findings, then click below:

The Nine Tips for Businesses to Pick the Right Cloud Solution

Serverless or Hybrid: Cost Optimisation and Flexibility

For smaller businesses with limited staff or a small number of printers, a serverless model without an on-site print server can be a cost-effective solution, according to Quocirca. A serverless model reduces print server expenses and associated management costs. In addition, the serverless model enables direct printing, where print jobs are sent directly from the user device to the printer without going through a central server. This is particularly attractive for companies looking to consolidate their IT infrastructure to control printing costs and reduce administrative overhead. However, it should be noted that centralised management across distributed locations can be challenging unless a print management tool is used that supports both serverless and on-site environments.

Quocirca Report 2023

For organisations that want to keep their on-premise print servers, or need to for security reasons, a hybrid solution may be the best choice. Here, certain aspects of print jobs are still managed by the on-premise hardware, while other aspects are handled by the cloud, delivered under a single management platform. This hybrid solution allows for ease of use for administrators while enabling consolidation and cost savings. As the capabilities of cloud-based print management platforms continue to evolve, it is important to look for solutions that offer businesses the flexibility to evolve and adapt as needed.

VPN Requirements: Accessibility and Security

Some cloud printing solutions are hosted on a cloud server but still need to use a VPN tunnel into the network, which limits accessibility. This can add costs in terms of connection performance, VPN costs and the cost of installing and managing the VPN client on desktops and other endpoints. It can also create an unnecessary security vulnerability: If the VPN is compromised, it affects the entire local network. End-to-end data encryption can be a better solution to such problems, while integration with existing security solutions, such as security information and event management (SIEM) systems, can protect against access by malicious parties.

Document Security: Protecting Sensitive Data

Document security is of critical importance. The print platform should allow either compression and encryption of print jobs or local processing of at least part of the job, rather than sending all print job data and metadata to the cloud for spooling. Most cloud-based platforms can keep print jobs on the local network behind the firewall, providing a higher level of information security overall. All data sent between the client and the cloud should be encrypted to prevent the data stream from being intercepted by a man-in-the-middle attack.

Identity Access Management and Multi-Factor Authentication

Organisations should evaluate pull printing capabilities that allow print jobs to be released by authenticated users only, regardless of location. Cloud printing allows users to release print jobs from any networked printer or MFP. Therefore, it is important to consider a cloud printing platform that allows users to authenticate to any device using smart cards or other forms of near field communication/Bluetooth, biometrics or PIN printing. Identity management is becoming an increasing focus for many vendors, with integration with existing identity access management (IAM) systems being offered.

Zero-Trust Support: Security as a Top Priority

As businesses continue to move away from perimeter-based security models and shift towards zero trust, the print environment must do the same. Both at home and in the office, it is important that the print management solution can deliver proper network segmentation, while ensuring that each action in the printing process is authorised and each user is authenticated. Quocirca therefore recommends that the cloud printing solution is carefully inspected to see if it fully complies with the zero trust security model.

Native Driver Support: Maximum Functionality and Efficiency

While a universal printer driver (UPD) can offer simplicity, buyers should consider solutions with native driver support that can leverage the full functionality of the multifunction printer (MFP). Efficiency gains and cost savings are possible when the driver supports all the MFP’s features, such as double-sided printing, multi-page printing, sorting and multiple tray support for different paper grades/types. The development of universal printer drivers has evolved rapidly to support more features across printer fleets.

Multi-tenant platform: cost and control

The choice between hosted single-tenant solutions and multi-tenant solutions can play an important role in cost control and overall control. Hosted single-tenant solutions offer better overall control and nominally better security features, but are more expensive and require manual maintenance and upgrade processes. Multi-tenant solutions are typically highly configurable and offer robust security features managed by the service provider. Multi-tenancy can also help keep costs down by spreading them across multiple individual tenants.

Reporting and Analytics: Data Analysis for Optimisation Potential

Traditional print management solutions provide extensive reporting on printer usage, device performance, consumables (toner and paper) usage and service information. In a serverless environment, this reporting can be limited. However, Quocirca observes that this is changing as cloud printing platforms become more sophisticated and more data can be retrieved from printing devices. This enables detailed analysis and reporting of data to unlock optimisation opportunities. Buyers should consider integration with traditional business intelligence tools, as well as advanced reporting on environmental analysis and user behaviour.

Pricing Models

It is also important to consider the pricing models for cloud print management software platforms. Pricing models can vary by vendor and solution. Some ISVs offer models based on the number of devices, users or queue. It is important to analyse the implications of these pricing models, especially when hybrid working is considered and the number of users or devices may vary. Careful consideration of pricing models enables organisations to understand the costs associated with cloud print management and make a decision that makes good business sense.

Quocirca Report 2023

The Quocirca Cloud Print Services Market Landscape, 2023 Excerpt

Download the Report Excerpt to see the details of the survey and read about the Quocirca’s evaluation.

ezeep Blue Offers Great Support for These Criteria

For companies interested in a cloud printing solution, Quocirca’s tips have provided them with an excellent tool to evaluate solutions and choose the right one.
In fact, ezeep Blue fulfils all the points mentioned. Thus, ezeep Blue can be used serverless or, in combination with its on-premises variant ThinPrint, also hybrid. With ezeep Blue, printing is also possible without a VPN connection. This keeps the costs for VPN and administration low and does not open up any potential security gap. When it comes to security, ezeep Blue is way ahead: the files sent to the ezeep Blue Cloud are transmitted via an encrypted connection and deleted immediately after successful printing. Access to the printed files is not possible. All files are sent via https. Thus, communication from a user’s computer or mobile device to the server and from the server to the client is encrypted. In the context of security, but also of cost reduction, ezeep Blue, together with the print appliance ezeep Hub, enables user-authenticated pull printing. Zero Trust Printing can also be implemented with ezeep and the ezeep Hub. In order to be able to use all functions of a printer, ezeep Blue supports the native printer drivers. The ezeep Blue print monitoring feature enables an evaluation of the printing behaviour and thus provides conclusions on possible savings potential. And when it comes to pricing models, ezeep Blue offers great flexibility, from a free account for up to 10 users to a customised enterprise account for widely distributed print environments.