What do I need to know about moving my print server to the cloud?
Many organizations are moving away from hosting their server onsite, tucked away in a closet somewhere in their office. Businesses are moving to cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud.
The benefits to using cloud servers are plentiful — server maintenance becomes something of the past, server upgrades turn from nail-biting, labor-intensive projects to the simple click of a button, and security woes are few and far between.
But for many large organizations that rely on the insights provided via their internal print server, a cloud migration can create an unwanted outcome; losing the ability to charge prints to specific projects, departments, and clients.
COST CENTERS IN THE CLOUD
On-site print servers have, for many years, been responsible for tracking what is being printed, and who it should be charged to — whether it be a client, department, or even specific project.
This is one of those processes that runs in the background, and the data that is aggregated is analyzed in an accounting software — meaning businesses can often forget that when migrating their server to the cloud, they will lose the ability to track and manage their print data.
This is where print management software comes into play. Print management software will use “cost centers,” which can be used to designate any sort of customer or internal billing for print jobs.
Print management software achieves this by acting as a “traffic cop” between your copier and your business’ accounting software. When you input a cost center into your accounting software of choice, it will automatically sync with your print management software, allowing employees to select that cost center when using the print prompt on their laptop, or at the actual copier itself.
Most print management software will offer third party API (application program interface) connectivity, meaning your accounting software will usually sync perfectly with your print management software. Be careful before purchasing a print management client, however — some are not compatible with every accounting software, so you will want to make sure they do indeed communicate with each other.
After printing, your print management software will communicate that print data to you accounting software, allowing you to charge back to the proper department, client, or project — just like you would if you were using a on-premise server.
There is one slight difference between print management software and a on-premise server, however. Most print management solutions are only capable of charging back to a single cost center — meaning a print job cannot be attributed to a department and a project simultaneously. There are workarounds to this problem, but it is most definitely worth your consideration when weighing the benefits to switching entirely to a cloud server.
WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS NOW, BEFORE INTERRUPTIONS OCCUR
Losing the ability to track print costs can be a major interruption to the daily operations of your business. Because of this, always make sure to confirm your IT department is aware of the loss of functionality when migrating to cloud servers. If you do not have an IT department, consider reaching out to a managed IT service provider.