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Top 5 Questions When Moving to the Cloud | What Should You Pay?

YSoft SafeQ
Ondřej “Ondra” Krajíček
Chief Technology Strategist
So, you want to move your printing to the cloud? Here are the top 5 questions you to need to ask your solution provider.
In this 5-part series, we will pose 5 important questions a business needs to consider when choosing a solution provider for cloud-based print management and infrastructure. While these five questions are not a comprehensive list of what needs to be considered, these are questions many solution providers wish you would not ask. Be sure that you do!

Before we get to the first question, it is important to acknowledge that not all organizations view the move to the cloud for print services in the same way or for the same reasons. Some businesses want to run all their systems and applications entirely on a public cloud as a ‘cloud-first’ business decision.

Others may want to leverage their existing datacenter (private cloud) and take a phased approach to moving to the public cloud instead of all at once. For some it is not so much about reducing costs as it is about freeing IT to work other projects, have better service or better visibility into cost.

Whatever your approach and reason, make sure the solution provider offers a range of solutions that fit your goals whether it is all pubic cloud or nothing, or a phased approach that gets you to the public cloud at a pace that suits your needs.

This first article in this series asks:

What should you pay for cloud-based print and how should you pay for it?

Or in other words, what is the business and revenue model the solution provider is offering? Cloud-based services are synonymous with SaaS (software as a service), so a subscription model is expected. But what is it based on? Traditional managed print services are often based on paper usage. Does that even make sense anymore?

Some other business models that may be offered:
  • Number of users: If your company experiences a hiring surge, should your print costs go up at the same rate if not all of them are heavy print users? On the other hand, when there is a reduction in the workforce, costs go down. How difficult is it to manage the daily ups and downs of hiring? Is a predictable cost more valuable to you?
  • Number of print jobs: This model is harder for accurate cost forecasting because not all user print behaviors is the same. A user in marketing may have 20 single page jobs a week while over in finance, a user is printing 2,000 jobs a week, many of them inventory reports that could number in the hundreds of pages each.
  • Up-time performance: Not all printing is business critical (try explaining this to your users though!)  Perhaps you are willing to pay more to have a higher guarantee of system up-time in some locations and not in others. Should you have to worry about this at all?
  • Per print device: In this model, the number of print jobs or users doesn’t matter. This gives you flexibility: as devices are decommissioned when headcount goes down, your costs go down; when additional devices are added when headcount rises you’ll know exactly what to expect. Your costs are more predictable and are not impacted by small headcount ups and downs. Devices can be moved to where usage is higher.
  • Per print server: In some, highly specific cases, such as with customers who require IaaS and total control even in the cloud, this model may be worth considering. For public cloud services, this does not make much sense though.

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Looking at the situation from a customer perspective, here is some insight we have heard from our customers:
  • The model needs to be fair and should not punish you – as a customer – for using the service or trying to get the value you paid for in the beginning
  • The model should protect your existing investments and build opon them, instead of forcing you to start from scratch
  • The business model and the service should easily scale up and down as your needs change
  • The business model should be transparent and simple

We recommend the per print device approach and it has been our sole licensing model since many years ago. I daresay that per print device is one of the fairest models, as it does not punish you for having more people on board and does not force your users to impact productivity by not using the print devices you paid for. Instead, it is derived from your “production” capacity – the printers and MFDs.

Similar models exist all around us. When you get a lease to buy your new car, you do not pay separately for each driver in your family. You also do not have to pay every single time you use a steering wheel (I bet that right turns would be more expensive than left turns ;-).

Even though we’ve started to use this model almost a decade ago, it is fairly robust as it works well for cloud-based print subscription services. Software as a Service in general moves what used to be a capital expense to a more manageable (and easier to get approved) operating expense. With a per-device model, you and your finance colleagues have a predictable cost structure.

There is one more aspect, which is not from customer, but rather from the vendor (us) perspective. The business model needs to keep healthy pressure on improving our efficiency and optimizing our services. If we force customers to pay per job or even per server, there is nothing forcing us to optimize our technology for footprint or cost. Since we are charging customers per device, that means that we must be ready to process any load which your printers and users can generate and handle. The ball is in our court and we love crossing difficult boundaries.

Five Red Flags when considering the cloud-based business models

When discussing business models with cloud solutions providers, be aware of these red flags:

Red flag #1 – does the solution provider offer its cloud-based services on a subscription model? And, are they experienced with this model?
Red flag #2 – does the provider’s business model make sense for your organization?
Red flag #3 – is the solution provider charging extra for guaranteed system up-time?
Red flag #4 – is the solution provider translating infrastructure costs or royalties directly into the customer pricing structure?
Red flag #5 – is the solution provider charging extra for scalability or security?

In my next article the question will be about how to ensure print services are always available which means I’ll be talking about high availability and fail-over protection.
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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