Printing while “working from home” is essential

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Tech Community.

Digital transformation has been with us for some years, but with the global pandemic, it has quickly become an urgent reality for many organizations! With the various lockdowns around the globe, companies suddenly had to adjust their business processes and enable workers to work from home (WFH) while others are in the office. IT must ensure printing is still secure when supporting a hybrid workforce.

The Microsoft 365 Universal Print service and YSoft OMNI Series combined, offer a great solution for print admins. YSoft OMNI Series instantly connects any in-market home or office printer to Universal Print. Here's how these two technologies work together to facilitate three hybrid workforce use cases (and more).

  • Print to office from home
  • Print to home from home
  • Print to/from anywhere

Print to office from home

Figure 1: Print to office from homeFigure 1: Print to office from home

Our first use-case is an SMB business with a Microsoft 365 Business premium subscription that wants to take advantage of Universal Print with their existing, in-market printers.

Some workers remain essential to corporate operations, such as shipping and receiving. So, there are times where workers at home need to print to a device at the office for others to pick up the print job (e.g. shipping documents, manifest, etc.).

One of the main advantages of the cloud is that it does not care where you are located. Whether you are at the office or at home, you can always reach the cloud given an internet connection. Home users can print using Universal Print just as if they were sitting in the office. The YSoft OMNI Series solution, consisting of YSoft OMNI Bridge™ and OMNI UP365™ App, retrieves and delivers the print job to the desired in-office printer transparently! No need for the home user to dial the company VPN to reach an on-premises printer!

But you are probably thinking, “Ok, but how often does this help me? Most of the time, I need to print something for myself!” Which leads us to the next use-case.

Print to home from home (with corporate processes and security)

Figure 2: Print to home from homeFigure 2: Print to home from home

In this use-case, it's obvious that a home-office printer can be printed to without any additional solution beyond printer drivers and a wi-fi network or USB cable. But what about the security concerns in this scenario? Do companies have any way to track what gets printed on that home-use or personal printer?

Universal Print and OMNI Series come to the rescue here. The company can issue an OMNI Series solution along with the home-office printer. Via Universal Print, OMNI Series enables traceability and accountability for all print jobs printed on the printer. Other household members are restricted from printing to the device, since they lack access to the Universal Print's print queue.

Print to / from anywhere

Additionally, we can reverse the previous use case. Someone sitting in the office can print to the home-office printer for the remote worker's convenience. This is enabled by deploying OMNI Series solutions in both sites, which in turn, enables the final use-case wherein everyone can print anywhere!

Figure 3: Print to/from anywhereFigure 3: Print to/from anywhere

Technologies

The various technologies applied to create these solutions range from industry standards, such as Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), to public interfaces provided by Microsoft (e.g. MS Graph API for Pull Printing) to proprietary Y Soft innovations. Specifically, IPP relies on and inherits capabilities from the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which provides the foundation for all the streaming and security features that one would come to expect from printing to the cloud.

OMNI Series leverages such standards and APIs to provide industry compliant solutions and provides enhanced value-add beyond the scope of the underlying technology. For example, by leveraging IPP/IPPS standards, OMNI Series realizes immediate capabilities such as:

  • Print job submission
  • Standard query implementations of a printer's capabilities and status
  • Simultaneous querying of multiple print jobs' states
  • Standard implementation to cancel previously submitted jobs

Without an industry-wide standard such as IPP, OMNI Series would have to implement specific business logic for each printer brand (and possibly model) which leads to dramatic increases in complexity and development costs.

Additionally, Microsoft is bringing additional value through their implementation of value-add Print Management features such as their recently released preview of their Pull Printing API as part of the Microsoft Graph API. Most print management solutions now offer some form of “pull printing”. For
Y Soft's flagship product, YSoft SAFEQâ, this feature is called Print Roamingâ. OMNI Series is looking toward Universal Print's Pull Print API to implement a rich and robust printing capability wherein a user will be able to print to the cloud and “pull” his print job to whichever printing device is most convenient to them.

Security

Working from Home implies a risk, and cybercriminals have taken advantage. Any solution dealing with data as sensitive as a company's private print stream must make security a top priority. For a WFH solution such as OMNI Series, one must be concerned with both “Data in Transit” and “Data at Rest”.

Data ‘in Transit' security means that the communications links and channels are encrypted and secured using the latest technologies which are yet to be “cracked”. For OMNI Series and Universal Print, encryption is provided through Transport Layer Security (TLS) and uses AES-256 encryption on all communications between client, cloud, and printer. OMNI Series relies on these security measures as well.

For data ‘at Rest' in a pull-printing scenario, this means that the print job data is spooled to the Microsoft 365 cloud, awaiting a final destination for the print job release. For OMNI Series, this means relying on the Universal Print infrastructure built within the secure Microsoft 365 infrastructure, where all Universal Print data is stored in the tenant's Office storage area.

Both Microsoft and Y Soft are working together to ensure that businesses who are not able to purchase a new print fleet will be able to use Universal Print easily and cost effectively and that document printing is secure whether workers are at home or in the office. The hybrid workforce model is here to stay and technology is keeping pace. Stay tuned for more exciting news and watch our WFH webcast.

 

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