Cloud printing services continue to grow in the market, as showings at the massive drupa printing trade fair made quite clear this month. Application Software Provider (ASP) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) have been around for some time, but today it’s all about web connectivity. A printing infrastructure that runs in cyberspace enables people to take out steps in the process and work faster—without a lot of overhead.
For print service providers (PSPs), the over-riding challenge is how to use these services to expand and compliment their businesses. But let’s begin with a more basic question: What, exactly, is the “cloud?” Basically, it’s a means of storing, sharing, and accessing information via servers on the Internet instead of on local servers. In layman’s terms, software developer Novell defines the cloud as “a set of services and technologies that enable the delivery of computing services over the Internet in real-time, allowing end-users instant access to data and applications from any device with Internet access.” David McCormick, web services team lead for wide-format Designjet marketing at HP, embellished this definition, adding, “[The cloud] is computing, storage, and networking at a remote location that is managed by someone else. Web connectivity is the key facilitator.”
Far from soft and fuzzy, cloud computing’s platform is sturdy and robust—more like an intricately woven spider web than a puffy mass of liquid droplets floating in the atmosphere. “The cloud is actually more tangible than its name suggests,” noted Carles Marti, McCormick’s HP colleague and marketing product manager for Designjet Web Services. “At the end, it’s about different online tools and resources, connected to devices down on Earth, that help professionals to deliver tangible results. They can review, publish, share, and print any information virtually anywhere.” HP also is tapping the cloud to boost its managed print service capabilities.
“Devices connected directly to the Internet, receiving and sending information, already are a reality around us,” Marti noted. “This cloud-based work makes information flow more quickly and efficiently, reaching more people at the same time, wherever they are. It enables people to work remotely, facilitating multi-location teams, for example, where members choose to live where they want to live—because technology lets them do so.”
Indeed, content-management systems for publishers went to the cloud a few years ago, but the wind is swift and the clouds have moved fast. Nearly all agree that cloud technology is a game-changer that has fundamentally altered the way in which data is stored, routed, and handled. Prior to the drupa show, in mid-April, the creative community was abuzz as Adobe announced its Creative Cloud, a subscription-based offering that the firm says is a hub for making, sharing, and delivering creative work. It is centered on the release of Creative Suite 6 software. Creative Cloud membership provides users with access to download and install every new CS6 application as well as two new HTML5 products: Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge preview.
“The urge to be creative is universal, and harnessing the creative spark—in everyone from school children to creative pros—has never been more important,” said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. “Wherever and whenever inspiration strikes, Adobe will be there to help capture, refine and publish your ideas.”
Creative Cloud also integrates Adobe’s creative tablet applications, such as Photoshop Touch, into everyday work—seamlessly synchronizing and storing files in the cloud for sharing and access on any device. Members will be able to easily deliver mobile apps to iOS and Android marketplaces and publish, manage, and host websites. They’ll also have access to application upgrades, including new CS point-product features, before they are launched as part of major CS updates, as well as inventive new products and services as they emerge. Membership is available for $49.99 per month with an annual contract. There is a special introductory offer of $29.99 per month for CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS5.5 individual customers.