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Definition

cloud printing

Cloud printing is a service that lets users print from any device on a network. As with other areas of technology, managed print services – the provision and oversight of business document output by an external service provider – have migrated to the cloud. Cloud printing, which is based on software-as-a-service (SaaS) models or remotely delivered solutions, delivers digital information to a network point where the printer can collect it.

Cloud-printing services match up digital devices and workstations — including smartphones and other mobile devices — with physical printer stations. In contrast, traditional cabled printing has been fraught with problems related to software drivers or other compatibility tools that these systems required; for example, the printer frequently would not recognize an individual device.

Modern cloud-printing services eliminate the need for software drivers linking a device to a printer and enable the printer to get the digital information from the cloud service. The result is a more reliable printing service across a network that includes various types of hardware. Cloud printing services also provide the ability to print from different locations.

Using cloud print to meet print-on-demand needs enables businesses to lower the costs related to mass production as well as eliminating the need to procure, deploy and manage hardware and software. Cloud printing is also considered more eco-friendly because it reduces the amount of paper used and lowers carbon emissions from transportation.

Vendors in the cloud-print space include traditional printer and document-management companies; online services that enable users to print to compatible printers from any location; and independent software vendors that offer cloud-based print infrastructure and printing SaaS.

Some print service providers refer to the term “printer as a service,” in which customers lease or buy printers and pay per print job. The provider takes care of maintenance and other consumables (including toner), and the service is monitored in real time through a central, often remote platform.

This was last updated in December 2017

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