Cloud Printing for the Forum

Cloud based printing is becoming more and more widespread across the University. Instead of needing to remember the queue name of the nearest printer, jobs are sent to a single cloud queue (to be strictly accurate, there are in fact two queues, one for mono jobs and one for colour) and can then be collected from a wide range of cloud enabled printers located in most parts of the University estate. The user simply taps their University ID card on the reader of a cloud printer and is presented with a list of the jobs in the cloud print queues belonging to the user. One or more jobs can them be selected for printing.

Cloud based printing provides benefits both for the user and for the School. As mentioned above, users can print out their jobs at (with a very few exceptions) any cloud printer in the University including those located in the libraries, in other Schools, in the School levels and concourse of Appleton Tower and in other public areas. Flexibility is a further benefit; should the user, on going to a printer to print out their job, find that it is in the middle of a multi-hundred page photocopy session, they can simply walk a little further to one of the other printers in the building and collect their printout there.

For the School, the benefit comes in cost savings. Jobs are only printed out when the user presents their University ID card to the reader on a cloud printer thus avoiding the drifts of uncollected printouts which currently gather around the School’s printers. Jobs which are not printed within 24 hours are automatically deleted from the queues.

Another advantage is that cloud printing is more secure. Since jobs are only printed when the user is present at the printer, there is no danger of sensitive material being seen by others as it sits in the out-tray awaiting collection.

Cloud queues are charged queues. Every user account in the University has a print credit balance associated with it and every time a job is printed on a cloud device, the appropriate amount is debited from the user’s balance. Charging only occurs when the job is actually printed off so jobs which are deleted after 24 hours do not incur a charge.

Informatics staff and research students are not currently charged for printing and there are no plans for this to change; a central mechanism is in place by which print credit is automatically topped up every week and it is intended to implement this for Informatics staff and research students.

After a trial deployment in Forrest Hill last year, all printers on the School’s floors in Appleton Tower are now cloud devices and this is working well. It makes sense for all the School’s printers to be cloud enabled and it is proposed to introduce cloud based printing in the Forum by the end of the year. Any comments you might have on this proposal would be welcome.

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9 Responses to Cloud Printing for the Forum

  1. Ian Stark says:

    Sounds good. What’s the scheme for matching print requirements (stapling, tumble, A3 paper) to printer capabilities? At the moment I just have a note of appropriate per-printer command-line incantations, which is definitely a hack, but I’m aware that this may be sensitive to exactly what manufacturer’s device is at the other end.

    • Craig Strachan says:

      All cloud printers are Xerox devices of various kinds and all of them use the same drivers (the same drivers as the current Xerox devices in the Forum use in fact). If you have something that works with the current Forum Xerox printers, then it should work with any cloud device. Note though that not all cloud devices have the same capabilities. The smaller devices don’t support A3 printing and many cloud devices don’t have a finisher capable of all the tricks the Forum printers can do. The intention would be for Forum cloud printers to be at least as capable as the current devices.

  2. imurray2 says:

    Sounds good. I used this sort of printing while at a company this Summer and it worked well. The only downside is if the print job is long, you can’t send it and tactically wait 5 minutes before picking it up. But on balance, it’s definitely the way to go. Thanks!

  3. s1467120 says:

    Will this still support the line printer daemon protocol?

    • Craig Strachan says:

      Yes, printing works just as it did before. The only difference is that the job is sent to a cloud based queue rather than a specific printer queue i.e ‘lpr -Pcloud-mono’ rather than ‘lpr -Pif435c0’. All your current options and flags should work as well since the cloud print queues use the same drivers as the current Forum Xerox printers.

  4. vbelle says:

    If there is a trial printer set up already, I’d be happy to give this a shot. Printing from the iPad would then be a breeze :-).

  5. wwaites says:

    How will the print queue know that the jobs belong to me (e.g. UUN) when I print from my own workstation (e.g. account name that I’ve been using for longer than I care to remember) and so be retrievable using my university RFID card?

    • Craig Strachan says:

      You need to associate the print job with your University UUN. The exact details of how you do this will depend on which OS you are using, IS have useful documentation on how to do this for the commonly used operating systems. Note that you don’t need to authenticate as your University UUN when you send the job to the printer, authentication is done by presenting your University ID card to the reader on the printer when you collect the job. You may worry that this makes it easy for someone else to send jobs to the printer using your user name. This is true but without your id card, how are they going to print the jobs out?

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