Cloud Printing Services: Is it the Right Choice for Your Small Business?

Cloud Printing Services

Small businesses that use cloud-based printing apps and services know how easy it can be – the convenience of printing nearly any document from any device, wherever you are.

“Running a simpler, smoother, and more efficient business is the prime reason to launch your printers into the cloud,” Alex Wawro in a PCWorld post.

When the first cloud-printing services launched there was initial concern that businesses were risking the security of their sensitive data. But “surprisingly, printing confidential data via a cloud printing service can be as secure as printing across your company network,” he writes.

Google Print Service To End

The topic of cloud print apps has become top of mind for a lot of businesses since Google announced it would no longer offer or support its popular Cloud Print service after December 2020.

“Printers are some of the dumbest, most archaic ‘tech’ devices on Earth, but Cloud Print was the missing link, allowing your dumb printer to work with more modern devices,” writes Ron Amadeo in a post on ARS Technica, which publishes news, reviews, and guides on issues such as computer hardware and software, science, technology policy, and video games.

There are of course plenty of other players in the cloud print market, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Baidu, Aliyun, VMWare, HP, Xerox, etc., but the Google service has been very popular, particularly for small businesses. 

“Cloud Print was a huge success, as far as printing services go, and it even ended up being built-in to traditional printers,” says Amadeo, the reviews editor for ARS Technica.

Google had a list of hundreds of cloud-ready printer models that connect directly to Google's service, no intermediate computer needed, he writes.

“You could print from Chrome and Chrome OS, or print from a phone, or even print remotely over the Internet,” the article says. “The idea was that the Cloud Print server was built into every copy of the Chrome browser, and your printer probably connected to a computer running Chrome at some point, either over a local network or USB cable.”

Cloud Print Options

Basically, any of the services should let you print from any computer or device that’s connected to its network, but they vary in features – some offer software for your whole office and others are better suited for small spaces or individual users.
Alternatives include native printing options — configured for everyone by a G Suite administrator or for a specific device by an individual — as well as third-party cloud-printing or printing-as-a-service vendors, says Andy Wolber in a TechRepublic blog.

“When you select and deploy a solution, it helps to have a list of the make, model, and IP address of the printers in your organization, as well as a list of the devices and operating systems from which you plan to print,” he writes.

One alternative pitched as a replacement for Google Cloud Print is Directprint – it offers smart printing options from Google Chrome and Windows operating systems.

“The system offers full integrated with G Suite,” writes Annie Pilon in a Small Business Trends post. “And you can use it with all major printer brands. Connect it to your local network. And all of your documents stay secure. They never leave your private cloud.”

Another option, Apple’s AirPrint, is built into a variety of printers and available on all Apple Devices, from iMacs to iPhones. You can also access it on devices running other operating systems with the help of apps.

“This option isn’t a fully featured service for offices,” says Pilon, a senior staff writer for Small Business Trends. “But you can certainly use it if your workplace is outfitted with Apple products and compatible printers. It can also be a helpful option for freelancers or those who work from home.”

Other alternatives include PaperCut, Ezeep or Printix, which connects with several third party cloud solutions, such as Office 365, G Suite, and Azure AD, as well as Xerox ConnectKey, which offers a smart workstation with a variety of productivity features, and PrinterOn, with solutions for everything from enterprise level businesses to public office spaces.