Many companies have moved the majority of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The move to the cloud started in the 1970s with Virtual Machines, but now we have storage, severs, databases, networking and software, just to name a few, all running in the cloud. A relatively new addition to cloud computing family is cloud printing, specifically Universal Print through Microsoft Azure.
Universal Print is a cloud-based print solution that enables simple, secure printing, whilst reducing time and effort for an IT department. It runs entirely on Azure and requires no on-premises infrastructure whilst allowing users to print from anywhere without the need to install drivers. Although some new printers are Universal Print ready, older printers can easily be connected to Universal Print with a software connector that allows the necessary communication protocols. While some companies have moved away from printing in recent years, there are still scenarios where documents need to be printed, and many industries and companies heavily rely on printing every day. Regardless of how often a business uses print services, Universal Print has a host of benefits including:
Similar to most solutions that are deployed in Azure, one of the key benefits of Universal Print is the ability to have robust management capabilities through the Azure Portal. In the Azure Portal it is possible to set up new printers, set up automatic conversion of documents, diagnose any problems, and view reports and insights into printer usage. Having centralised management capabilities allows IT administrators to manage all Azure functionality in one place and they do not need to be physically in the office space, this is particularly beneficial with the move to a hybrid workforce.
Insights into Print Environment
In the Azure Portal, Administrators have access to reports and insights into their printing environment. These reports include the status of all printers and connectors, including any jobs that did not print. This allows IT Administrators to quickly and easily diagnose any issues with printers. In the Universal Print Usage and Report page there are also reports stating how many print jobs have been sent, are pending and are remaining in the tenant’s plan.
Print Anywhere, Effortlessly
One of the benefits of moving a printing setup to the cloud is that it allows users to print from any device to any printer, regardless of where they are. As long as the printer has Universal Print capabilities and the user is logged into their Azure Active Directory they will be able to print. As there are no drivers to install this also means that users can print from any device without going through the hassle of searching for a printer and installing the required drivers. Universal Print also allows location-based printing allowing users to submit a print job the closest printer that they are authorised to use. The ability to print anywhere also opens the possible of remote workers installing the connector on their home printer and printing from home with the security policies of their company.
In some organisations printers can be a weak security link. Printers often require multiple ports to be open and therefore can be an attack point for executing malicious code or as an entry point for a threat actor to move laterally within the network. Moving printing to the cloud allows all the security benefits of Azure, including storage in accordance with Microsoft’s data management guidelines, the use of security groups, protected communication over HTTPs connections and backing by a X.509 certificate.
Universal Print in Azure has the potential to unblock the move to the cloud for companies with a complex legacy print setup. It has a range of benefits that suit end-users as well as IT Administrators, does not require on-premises infrastructure and can make the move to a hybrid workplace smoother for many employees and businesses. Regardless of if your business is printing once a week or hundreds of pages every day, we can support you with the move to Universal Print with Azure. If you want to find out more contact us today!