Cloud Printing in Informatics – an Update.

Last year I wrote an article extolling the virtues of cloud based printing and announcing the intention to extend the use of cloud printing to those parts of Informatics where it was not already available. With one or two exceptions, this proposal was greeted with some enthusiasm and so over the next few weeks, the Xerox Multi Function Devices in the North East corners of the Forum and the Wilkie Building kitchen area will become cloud enabled. One part of the proposal that caused some dismay was the prospect of only having one printer on each floor of the Forum and so it’s been decided to locate A4 mono cloud devices in the South West corners of each Forum floor and in the ground floor reception area. These devices can also act as mono photocopiers and colour scanners.

For the moment the existing print queue names will continue to work but the intention is to disable these queues on the 1st of March and only have cloud queues within Informatics.

The one exception to this is for printers in admin offices. Though the introduction of cloud printing removes the need for these devices, the intention is for them to remain, at least until they irretrievably break down! These printers will continue to use their existing queue names since they can’t be cloud enabled.

Since the cloud print queues need to associate print jobs with your University UUN, the printing setup on non-DICE machines may need some adjustment. Full instructions on how to do this will be provided on computing.help before the switch over. Arrangements to provide Informatics staff and research students with a suitable amount of free print quota will also be in place by then.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: We’ve agreed to delay turning off the existing print queues until after the end of the current semester. This will afford you all an opportunity to compare both printing methods side by side, though you may of course find yourself waiting for your cloud print job while a job sent straight to the printer prints out!

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10 Responses to Cloud Printing in Informatics – an Update.

  1. rbf says:

    How will we know where to find our printing (it sounds like I will not
    be saying “lpr -Pif132c0 XXX.txt” anymore)? Bob

  2. Craig Strachan says:

    That’s the beauty of the system. Soon, you will be able to go to any printer in the Forum and, assuming that the printer is able to handle the requirements of your job such as paper size and colour, print out your job on the spot. If you happen to be in Appleton tower, the Library or any of the many other University buildings which contain cloud printers, you can still access your job. The only change to your command would be that instead of saying lpr -Pif132c0… you’ll use lpr -Pcloudc0… All your other options will work as before.

  3. ht says:

    This feels like a classic “save admin time, at high cost to users” move. Now I print to my NE corner printer, read an email, talk to a student, then go collect my printout. Under the new system I print to the cloud, then have to go to the NE corner printer, wait for the copy job that’s printing, wait for the person in front of me, give up, go back to my office, rinse and repeat, until I finally get to a non-busy printer and then stand and watch it print. Multiply by 100s of staff per day, you get a _huge_ waste of people’s time 🙁 Why isn’t this a terrible idea?

  4. ht says:

    Follow-up: I just queued up 3 separate print jobs, and can now go collect (no waiting) all of them.

  5. Craig Strachan says:

    Henry,
    Let me propose a counter-scenario. Let us suppose that you have emailed, chatted and strolled to the printer to find that it is currently on page 33 of a 200 page graphics crammed opus with your job queued up behind it. Currently, you would have no option but to retreat to your office and wait or, and I know this is not something an environmentally concerned person such as yourself would contemplate, send another copy of the job to a different printer, collect that, and not bother collecting the original when it finally emerges. Under the new scheme, when you find the nearest printer is busy, you can simply wander to the next nearest printer enjoying the magnificent views from the Forum and chatting with your colleagues, and collect your printout from there. Incidentally, should you have multiple jobs queued up, there is a convenient button to print all of them at once.

    I freely admit that this new system can be seen as a step backwards by those who are used to being able to send a job to a printer and find it waiting for them but the new setup holds the promise of saving the School the costs of the considerable amounts of printing which is done at the moment and never collected at all. Add to this the convenience of being able to collect a job from any printer in the School and indeed from most printers in the University and everyone benefits!

    If we do find that queues are regularly building up, we will obviously revisit the provision of printers but I have to say that there have not been noticeable crowds around the far more heavily used printers in the student labs since they were made cloud devices.

    Finally, to allay fears that the computing staff will all be sitting around twiddling our collective thumbs once cloud printing is fully deployed, I would point out that we are still running our own print servers to manage the cloud queues and are still responsible for managing and supporting the individual printers. The saving in admin time will therefore be approximately zero.

    Craig.

  6. ht says:

    Yes, I find that about once a year I arrive to collect my output and it hasn’t come out yet because someone is printing 80 copies of a 10-page handout. But I print multiple documents and collect them all at once much more frequently: any time I go on a trip, for example.

    And I apologise for the implication that it was CST’s time that was being prioritised, I was thinking of other recent changes from higher up and further away.

    _But_, it still feels to me that you’re discounting the value of users’ hanging-around time: People’s time is, I contend, much more valuable than wasted paper and toner. We often criticise central IS for making changes without doing requirements capture because “they know what we need without asking”. Did CST ask staff before instituting this change?

    So sure, please provide cloud printing for those who find it convenient, but please _don’t_ take away the existing functionality.

  7. Re remark in previous post “cloud print is more secure”, there seem to be several new security problems we didn’t have before.

    First, “cloud” usually invokes fear of not knowing where data is kept. So where are the print jobs stored in this model before they are printed, is there any difference to before (presumably documents going to IS servers rather than Inf ones). Any special guidance for handling highly sensitive documents?

  8. Craig Strachan says:

    All jobs sent to the Cloud print queues are stored on IS managed servers within the University and remain behind the University firewall at all times. I was going to say that there should be no change to the security of printing but in fact cloud based printing, at least as implemented by the University, is considerably more secure since there is no danger of sensitive documents being printed out and then left for all to see until they are finally collected.

  9. Craig Strachan says:

    Cloud printing offers so many advantages to users, and has so few drawbacks (I firmly believe that you will find the extra time you spend waiting for your printouts to be negligible) that it simply never occurred to us that there might be objections. Added to that the major cost savings and considerable pressure from the centre to fall in line with the rest of the University and it seems an obvious move.

    Let it not be said however that we do not listen to feedback from our users. We have agreed to delay switching off the old individual queues until after the end of the semester to allow users time to become used to the new system without the pressure of teaching. This will allow people to compare the new and old printing methods and hopefully find that the new system has many advantages and none of the feared drawbacks.

    Craig.

  10. Craig Strachan says:

    I’m on holiday from the 19th to the 23rd of February and won’t be able to respond to comments or questions until I get back.

    Craig.

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