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Cloud printing is the technology that enables printers to be accessed over a network through cloud computing. There are, in essence, two kinds of cloud printing. On the one hand, consumer-based cloud printing connects any application to cloud-enabled home printers that people own or have access to. Using this technology, people can take digital media as their primary communications tool and create a printed page only when they need the content in a physical form.
On the other hand, professional cloud printing enables publishers, companies and content owners to print their digital publications by leveraging networks of production facilities through cloud computing technology. In short, professional cloud printing allows for the "ad-hoc transformation of digital information into physical forms in 2D or 3D." 
For consumers, cloud ready printers eliminate the need for PC connections and print drivers, enabling them to print from mobile devices. As for publishers and content owners, cloud printing allows them to "avoid the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software and processes"  required for the production of professional print products.
Leveraging cloud print for print on demand also allows businesses to cut down on the costs associated with mass production. Moreover, cloud printing can be considered more eco-friendly, as it significantly reduces the amount of paper used and lowers carbon emissions from transportation.
Only a handful of providers are currently working towards a professional cloud print solution. Most of these operate in their own niche or focus on mobile devices.
Significantly large steps have also been taken in the consumer market with Google Cloud Print. A few leading companies like Konica Minolta, Xerox and Ricoh followed in Google’s footsteps with their mobile cloud solutions, while Hewlett-Packard implemented a similar mechanism with their ePrint solution.
Additionally, independent software vendors like Printix are leveraging cloud computing technology to offer cloud-based print infrastructure and cloud-based printing software as a Service (SaaS). These solutions may have integrations to cloud enabled printers or provide printing via the cloud features, which allow users to print between networks to printers which are on an isolated network or otherwise not reachable from the user's computer.
Industry experts believe that as these services become more popular, users will no longer consider printers as necessary assets but rather as devices that they can access on demand when the need to generate a printed page presents itself.
While these cloud printing options do simplify the printing process, all the print data must travel through the public cloud as it makes its journey from device to printer. It also means no printing is possible when the cloud is too slow or when there is a connection outage. Since some clouds charge on inbound and/or outbound traffic, heavy print jobs can have a significant cost. True cloud print solutions do not require any on-premise server in the company complementing the cloud, whether that is a print server or an application server, or a "gateway" service. Today many solution providers just interface an on-premise server with a cloud database and label it a cloud print solution, which it is not.
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