Serverless Printing: Print Server vs Serverless Printing

A dedicated print server used to be the sole way to control printing. Then “serverless” print management was made possible with the advent of cloud computing.

But if you’re there debating between print servers and serverless, and which might be better? Actually, looking at it the wrong way. It’s not about one being better than the other, they both have their cons.  It’s more about “Which printing solution suits my IT stack?”

What is serverless printing?

Serverless printing is essentially a buzzword for cloud print management. Instead of managing your print fleet with a print server, your printing is “serverless”. That is, you don’t have a physical print server on-premises. Instead, you’re outsourcing the role of a print server to a cloud service provider.

There are lots of different models for “serverless” print management. It can be self-hosted by your organization in a private cloud. Or it can be fully hosted in the public cloud under a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) subscription.

Furthermore, some “on-premises” print management solutions can be hosted in the cloud. You choose the location of the print server where the software is hosted. Then you access it via the cloud, rather than you owning and maintaining the print server yourself.

Therefore, don’t be fooled, “serverless printing” is a misnomer. Something is fulfilling the role of the print server somewhere. Whether the print server itself is outsourced. Or if you’re leveraging public cloud tech that operates as an alternative to a print server.

You see what I mean by “it’s essentially a buzzword”, yeah?

No maintenance – No physical server = No Maintenance! Makes sense for modern offices with minimal hardware.  Why add more? Security – Data security and privacy can be a concern. 
Flexibility & scalability -An added plus in today’s hybrid workplace.Reliability – Will it work, 100% of the time?
Reduce cost – Less equipment maintenance = increased cost reduction.  The proof is in the ROI pudding! Performance – Can it handle the job?
No IT Burden – Help your IT team out by removing some of their daily/weekly tasks. Control – In some cases control is handed over to a service provider to manage the data backup and update cycle

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of serverless printing

  • No maintenance – No print server = no print server maintenance! This makes sense for contemporary offices with a minimal quantity of hardware. You wouldn’t want to add a print server to the mix if you don’t already have regular servers. Businesses that previously believed that full-fledged print management was only available to enterprise/on-prem print ecosystems are now able to experience its beauty.
  • Flexibility and scalability – Solutions for cloud print management scale up or down automatically based on your printing requirements. Your cloud print solution makes it easier if the number of end users at your company increases or decreases. This is of utmost importance in the hybrid workplace. Reduced print volumes don’t necessarily indicate unused print servers. A cloud print solution that adjusts down to meet your needs is what is meant by “easier print flow.”
  • Reduce costs – A single print server requires about $2 to $3k (USD) in annual maintenance. If you have several print servers, that adds up. Serverless printing offers a large return on investment by lowering operating costs, such as those incurred for administration, software provisioning, and hardware upkeep.
  • No IT burden – Fewer servers means it will be simpler for your IT team to manage your infrastructure. Administration time, management chores, and support tickets are all decreased with serverless printing. Updates to software are carried out automatically. Upgrades take care of themselves thanks to immediate feature deployment and continuous delivery. Your print management frees up your IT administrators from having to manage print servers on a regular basis, allowing them to concentrate on strategic long-term projects.

And now a little more detail about the disadvantages of serverless printing

  • Security – There are various concerns regarding data security and privacy for some cloud print management solutions: when traveling across the cloud, are your documents leaving the premises? Does this make your company more susceptible to security risks? Does a serverless printing solution affect your company’s regulatory compliance requirements under the GDPR, HIPAA, and other laws?
  • Reliability – Some cloud print solutions promise dependency but actually introduce more points of failure. Some serverless printing solutions are so tethered to the cloud, that if your desktop/laptop goes offline or the internet is down, it can disturb your printing.
  • Performance – Print jobs have gotten bigger and more complex as high-powered computing has become practical in personal devices. The uploading process is typically slower than the downloading process. If you don’t discover the correct solution, your printing performance could suffer if all of your printing is managed in the cloud. It’s important to keep in mind that not all cloud solutions provide a robust feature set, least when contrasted with the more than 20 years of on-premises print server solutions.
  • Control – You might to take into account that outsourcing the print server role to a cloud service provider means that you are also outsourcing control, depending on your company’s needs and printing requirements. As a result, neither the update cycles for the print management software nor the placement of your data are within your supervision. For some firms, this is advantageous because it means that a portion of the service fee goes into paying the service provider to manage the data backup and update cycle. However, it’s important to confirm that this is best for your company.

What is print server printing?

Managing your print infrastructure has traditionally been the role of a print server, just another piece of hardware that forms your overall technology stack including server racks, etc.

Performance – Hardware equals power and a print server means you have a dedicated computing device managing your print fleet.Maintenance – Print servers take up physical space and require upkeep.
Control – Owning and hosting the print server means you’re accountable and responsible for everything. Maintenance, updates, security, the works. You call the shots.Cost – Hardware of any kid comes with costs, and print servers themselves run up a tab. There’s the cost to own the server, then the costs to maintain.
Security – A print server means your print jobs never leave your network, which drastically shrinks your print environment’s attack surface area.IT expertise required – Some businesses don’t have dedicated IT staff, or they only have a small team. Maintaining print servers is a full-time job and requires dedicated IT professionals with the time and know-how to take care of them.

Self-hosted or fully-hosted cloud print management

A self-hosted or private-hosted single-tenant version of “on-premise” print management offers the benefits of “serverless printing” while also giving companies the performance, control, and security advantages of a print server.

Our flagship print management solution PaperCut MF is perfectly suited to private cloud deployments as a single-tenant print solution. You nominate where your server is hosted for the cloud and you have full control over data, backups, location, and update cycles.

PaperCut Hive and PaperCut Pocket, two of our completely hosted cloud products, were designed from the ground up for public clouds. We host the print solutions, which are completely serverless and don’t need any upkeep. With IoT-inspired technologies, the Edge Mesh architecture offers the best of both worlds.

PaperCut Hive is our feature-rich, flagship cloud print solution with MFP embedded software. You can track and manage printing, copying, and scanning, and enable secure print release with the mobile app, an ID card, or device touchscreen.

Our DIY public cloud printing solution is called PaperCut Pocket. With secure print release at your printer using the mobile device app, set it up yourself to track and manage printing.

Are PaperCut’s cloud solutions any good though?

You could be thinking that this blog just lists a ton of drawbacks to cloud print management.

It kinda is, but merely to draw attention to the fact that serverless printing is not always the preferable option to print servers. It depends on your preferences and the infrastructure of your organization.

Explore if PaperCut MF hosted in the cloud or if our fully-hosted cloud solutions PaperCut Hive or PaperCut Pocket suit your business.

Serverless Printing: Print Server vs Serverless Printing
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