Cloud – Based Access Control
The cloud, or in more technical terms, cloud computing, refers to the concept of hosting applications on servers located in large, public datacenters where, through real-time connectivity such as the Internet, a provider can then offer access to the applications as a service. So instead of having a software platform on a local PC, the platform and database are hosted in the cloud, with no onsite software required. Then, users access their data and other functionality via a mobile or Web app, and in most cases, pay a fee to use this service.
In the physical security industry, the cloud has become an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion, where some still voice apprehensions, but where others eagerly advocate their support and interest. And although cloud-based applications have been around for some time and seen success in other industries, advancements in the computing landscape are driving the adoption of more and more cloud-hosted offerings in security. One of the leading areas of emergence is access control.
A Look at the Cloud Today
Factors like the increasing availability of faster and more affordable Internet connectivity and the expansion of global state-of-the-art public datacenters are also contributing to wider acceptance, suggesting cloud-based security systems are becoming more accessible, cost-effective and reliable than ever before. Similarly, the security mechanisms put in place by cloud providers to secure the platform from logical security threats such as hackers are also becoming better. In fact, cloud platforms are often more secure than the servers that some organizations have at their own facilities.
Another major factor that has contributed to the growing number of cloud-based security offerings is the inherent mobility available through such offerings. A growing number of end users no longer want to be tethered to a desktop PC or laptop to access their security system. Instead, they appreciate the convenience of using apps via their smartphones or tablets when they need immediate access. Extending mobility to these users means delivering solutions that they can interact with from anywhere.
Today, a cloud offering category that has been receiving attention in the security industry is video surveillance as a service, or VSaaS. With vendors now offering fully hosted solutions, VSaaS is essentially lowering the barrier to purchasing an IP system by reducing upfront costs and complexities for end users, while boosting recurring monthly revenues (RMR) for the integrator.
For the end user who wants to secure their organization but does not want the burden and costs sometimes associated with housing, maintaining and cooling servers, or for those with limited IT resources or expertise, choosing a fully-hosted cloud package is a very attractive solution. They also benefit from mobility aspect, being able to pull up video and handle alarms from any device connected to the Internet.
Similarly, integrators who are not necessarily interested in deploying and supporting security applications involving complex infrastructures, can now look at fully-hosted cloud offerings as an easy-to-install option that lets them focus on other core services or competencies. While helping to streamline and simplify operations for the integrator, cloud-based solutions can also serve as a new opportunity to expand their market share by encouraging the swap from older analog systems to powerful IP-based video technology.