So, what is exactly is the cloud? Cloud computing refers to the delivery of IT services and applications without the need for any additional infrastructure. In other words, you can run applications via your web browser without the tedious and expensive business of downloading and installing new software, or buying new hardware. The applications run on the servers which make up the cloud, freeing up resources on your own systems. Perhaps the easiest way to look at it is to think about Hotmail and similar web-based e-mail services. If you use one of these, you can log into your account remotely from any PC – the software and the e-mails themselves aren't stored on your own computer, they're stored on the provider's servers, in the cloud. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter and a whole host of applications that many of us use on a daily basis; in fact most of what we do with our PCs these days is probably happening in the cloud without us even realising it.
The potential for cloud computing to change the way businesses are run is enormous and dedicated applications are increasingly finding their way into the home market as well as the commercial sector. One such application and the one which obviously interests us considerably is Google Cloud Print. With Cloud Print, you can print to a cloud-connected printer from anywhere, with any device (in the same way that you can access your Hotmails or tweets from any web-connected device) and without the need for drivers or installation software.
Imagine you're out of the office for the day, you've written a report for your boss but it's tucked away on your laptop's hard drive and he needs hard copy - now. Simple, send it to the print cloud and, hey presto, it prints on your office's cloud-connected printer and your boss has his report (ok, you can probably think of far more creative things to do with it but you get the idea).
A cloud ready printer will connect itself to the cloud and keep its drivers up to date without you having to do anything (well, you’ll have to take it out the box and plug it in, of course). You can also connect any pre-existing printers to the cloud, so you don't have to dash out and buy a new one to get started. Once you're connected, you can share printers with others and use the cloud to track your print jobs. If you’re worried about security, all files are transferred using a secure https web connection and deleted from the cloud's servers as soon as they’re printed.
We're really excited about the potential for cloud printing and, if you are too, Printware already stocks a range of cloud-ready printers to help get you flying. The Kodak ESPC310 and ESP Office 2170 support Google Cloud Print with no need for additional drivers or software, as do the HP ePrint-enabled printers. As if these weren't enough, the brand new range of Kodak Hero printers is now available, with cloud printing capability straight out of the box and lots of clever features like 3D printing.
by Anthony Morgan