A relatively new addition to cloud computing family is cloud printing, specifically Universal Print on Microsoft Azure. While many of us would like to be an entirely paperless office, there are still scenarios where documents need to be printed, and some industries and companies still rely heavily on printing every day. Cloud printing brings your printing solution up-to-date, by managing your print infrastructure through cloud services.
Universal Print is a Microsoft 365 subscription-based service that enables simple, secure printing, whilst reducing time and effort for your IT team. It runs entirely on Azure and requires no on-premises infrastructure whilst allowing users to print from anywhere without the need to install drivers. It’s fully integrated with Azure Active Directory and supports single sign-on scenarios.
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.
Benefits of Universal Print on Azure
Regardless of how often a business uses print services, Universal Print has a host of benefits including:
Like 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 you can set up new printers, set up automatic conversion of documents, diagnose any problems, and view reports and insights into printer usage. Centralised management capabilities allow IT admins to manage all Azure functionality in one place without the need to be physically in the office space. This is particularly beneficial with the move to a hybrid work.
Insights into print environment
IT Admins also have access to reports and insights into their printing environment via the Azure Portal. These reports include the status of all printers and connectors, including any jobs that did not print. This allows Admins to diagnose issues quickly and easily. 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. Provided 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, 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, so users can submit a print job to the closest printer that they are authorised to use.
The ability to print anywhere also presents an opportunity for remote workers to use their home printer and conform to the security policies of your organisation.
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 applies 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 on 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 Admins, does not require on-premises infrastructure and can make the move to a hybrid workplace smoother for many employees and businesses.
If you want to find out more, please get in touch to see whether it’s a good fit for your organisation.