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Top 5 Questions when moving to the Cloud: How to ensure availability

Moving your printing into the cloud can pose some serious questions, such as reliability, user experience and cost. Transition of printing to the cloud is by all means an important part of your digital transformation journey.
 
For this second article in the series, I look at how to ensure availability. In the days of on-premise and IaaS deployments, we have been often using the term “High Availability”. Let’s face it, is “Low Availability” really something you expect to see from your cloud service? High availability is no longer a premium service. Computing is finally becoming a utility. Customers increasingly want to utilize IT and digital services without understanding or dealing with their internal workings – the same way how you get electricity or drinking water. There is no such thing as high availability for water. It either flows or it does not and if it does not, we expect it to be fixed asap.
 
I believe that high availability is no longer an option. Availability is an expectation and the standard we are delivering. Let’s explore, what it mean in the cloud.

Cloud interruptions

First, let’s understand what the impact of availability is. Naturally, downtime goes against the key benefits of cloud printing: cost savings, improved efficiency, flexibility and security. Downtime creates problems for an organization and availability of printing becomes essential need for organizations of all sizes.

Why does it feel so different from on-premise? Back in the day, you could always find a local solution – the last resort. Just pull your old desktop printer out of the closet, blow the dust off and connect it locally. But today, your data and data protection policies, security measures and more are driven in the cloud. Connecting printer and printing locally is not a solution, because you may not have anything to print or you may not even be able to deploy the printer due to zero trust security policy restrictions.
 
How can you ensure a cloud solution can deliver an available service? It’s an important question to ask your potential cloud services provider.

Architecture (still) matters

It all starts with your SaaS and the platform + infrastructure it relies upon. Yes, there are virtual machines. Yes, there are clusters and redundancy. And yes, you can take your on-prem solution and deploy it in Windows or Linux servers in your cloud. You can take a magic front-end database and pretend that that solves all your availability problems.
 
Application and infrastructure-level clusters are incredibly useful, but in cloud, we need something better. Also, not all application-level clusters are created equal. Application clustering actually goes against scalability in cloud as it introduces tight coupling of application services. If you really are interested in truly scalable solution, you need to look for cloud-native technology.
 
But what about the print management application that sits on those servers? The application provider (in this case Y Soft or a competitor) is responsible for ensuring that its application supports those high availability features.

What to ask for

Here are the areas to explore with cloud-based print management service providers and how Y Soft addresses them:

Architecture – Our Platform for Growth architecture plays well in cloud as it was designed with cloud principles at heart, driven by customer requirements for enterprise cloud environments. We are constantly improving the architecture to ensure availability and scalability, while optimizing deployment and running costs. We have designed the technology, that it fits well in cloud-native, but also on-premise environments.
 
Elasticity - While other solutions only allow an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to availability, our SAFEQ CloudPro service can accommodate an organization’s need to have availability throughout the entire organization and introduce different degrees of resiliency in locations offices where it is truly needed as defined by your company’s IT governance. Why should you have to pay for something only needed in certain locations? On top of that, SAFEQ CloudPro also provides locality, so that your data do not have to circumnavigate the world, just because your cloud service runs only in the US-WEST data centers.
 
Ask the service provider what levels of resiliency are offered. YSoft SAFEQ CloudPro is offered with a choice of three resilience levels, each designed to meet the needs of varying organizations. These resilience levels offer different public cloud platform infrastructure and geo locations. A fourth, custom level, is unique to meet a specific customer’s needs.
 
Experience – Cloud-based service providers newly on the market may not have the experience with large businesses; they would find supporting 10, 15 or 20,000 devices sitting in offices around the world a daunting task. As an IT administrator of print services, you may feel more comfortable knowing your solution provider has the experience of offering high available services on-premise and knows what it takes to do so in the cloud with the same level of availability (and the support a large business expects). There is something to be said for Y Soft’s 20+ years of experience and a customer base that consists of 42% of the global Fortune 500 – and that something is – proven experience and proven support.

Universal Print and Availability

Up until now, I have been speaking about availability through the lens of print management (secure, pull-printing; rules-based printing, accounting etc.). What if you do not use print management, perhaps as a small or medium sized business, you do not need a full print management system – but still want to take advantage of cloud printing.
 
With Microsoft’s recent Universal Print features in Microsoft 365, Microsoft is making it easy for businesses to move printing to the cloud. But hold on, doesn’t the printer need to be Universal Print enabled and be connected to the cloud? Yes and yes.
 
While many print manufacturers will be providing firmware updates to recent models or rolling out new models over the next few years, the need and desire exists now for businesses to take advantage of cloud printing on the printers they are using today. That is why Microsoft came to Y Soft for help. So, what does this have to do with availability? Stay with me on this …

Bridging the Gap

There are a lot of printers in offices just like yours that may not get a firmware update, and you may not be in a position to update your print fleet – especially not in today’s economic climate. Microsoft asked us, knowing our software and hardware experience, to create a solution for customers who want to take advantage of Universal Print now on their existing printers. Particularly those businesses who do not use print management (which will automatically work with Universal Print.)
 
In response, we created YSoft OMNI Series, consisting of YSoft OMNI Bridge and YSoft OMNI Apps. The first app is specific to Universal Print, called YSoft OMNI UP365. Together, they instantly connect any networked printer to the cloud and to Universal Print features.
 
Ahem, what about availability? In a similar way how a cloud hosting provider, such as Microsoft Azure, provides server redundancy and fail over by clustering servers, two or more OMNI Bridge devices can be set up in a cluster providing availability cloud printing services.
 
It is a lot to ask of another cloud print services provider if they can cloud enable your existing printers, connect to Universal Print and do so with availability. But it just goes to show the trust that Microsoft has in Y Soft to ask us to figure it out.

Conclusion

If your business processes include availability print services, be sure to ask a potential cloud print services provider these tough questions. With or without print management, availability remains a hallmark of Y Soft technology.
 
My next article looks at how cloud printing can be integrated with your other cloud-based business systems.
 
Also, in this series:
When moving to the cloud, what should you pay?
When moving to the cloud, how to scale cost effectively?
 
Ondřej “Ondra” Krajíček
Ondřej “Ondra” Krajíček
Ondra is Y Soft’s go-to guy when it comes to Information Technology and its potential in Y Soft products and services. He has passion for matching state-of-the-art technology with customer needs, especially when we are speaking about complex qualities: reliability, scalability and availability. Besides that, Ondra loves teaching and tries to spend some of his time as a guest lecturer at his alma mater, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Ondrej also serves on the board of directors for AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce, Czech Republic) and has worked with the organization for several years.
View all posts by Ondřej “Ondra” Krajíček

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