6 July 2023

Moving Forward With Cloud-Based Security Systems

The functionality and potential cost savings offered by hosting business systems in the Cloud are so great, that it is hard to believe that cloud-based security systems will not be at the heart of most new systems over the coming years.

When first promoted, some system designers and installers were understandably concerned about the resilience of the Cloud, as well as cyber security issues. With many businesses and organisations now using Cloud based applications, e.g. Outlook, and finding them to be reliable, these concerns seem to have mainly disappeared and most of us have now come to trust the platforms developed by technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.

Advantages of Cloud-Based Security Systems

  • Significant reduction in hardware costs: A Cloud-based access control or video surveillance system removes the need to provide on-site recording devices and/or servers to run software applications or store data and video evidence. Total cost of ownership can therefore be greatly reduced as hardware costs are reduced, but there are also savings to be had in terms of ongoing maintenance and energy costs.
  • Remote management: Authorised users can monitor and control a system 24/7 without having to be in a control room. Cloud-based solutions are normally provided with a web portal that can be accessed via a PC or mobile device from anywhere in the world where there is Internet availability. In respect of a video surveillance system, this will allow users to view live or recorded images of any activity, as well as manage the functionally and monitor the status of the installed cameras.

Users of cloud based access control systems, such as ACT365 from Acre/Vanderbilt, are unlikely to notice any difference between ACT365 and their traditional “on-prem” ACT Pro software platform, as most of the immediate decisions are made by the distributed Intelligence programming in the system hardware. Both offer the same level of operator administration and control, such as enabling the addition, modification and cancellation of the access credentials of employees, contractors and visitors, as well as a wide range of functionality, such as the remote opening of doors.

  • Scalable: Cloud based systems can be more cost effectively expanded. Other than additional card readers or cameras which can be installed as and when required, there is no need to incur the cost of any additional equipment. The Cloud enables users to adjust their storage capacity according to their needs and budget. And they can also choose how long they want their data stored in the Cloud.
  • Automatic updates: Installers do not need to have in-house IT experts to ensure their end-user clients are benefitting from the latest versions of the relevant access control or video management software platforms and cyber security enhancements. Most manufacturers will offer automatic updates which can be seamlessly downloaded.
  • Resilience: A well-established Cloud solutions provider is unlikely to risk its reputation by not building a high level of redundancy into their Cloud-based solutions.
  • Commercial advantages: The Cloud offers installers and system integrators the opportunity to benefit from the recurring revenue from monthly subscriptions of a Cloud service provided to end-user clients, without incurring the costs of installing and maintaining the hardware. Yes, it is true that there can be some margin initially lost by providing less computer hardware for administration, but over the longer term, this could be substantially exceeded by the recurring income.

Disadvantages of Cloud-Based Applications

There are perhaps few disadvantages of using the Cloud in support of electronic security systems. However, it is very important to look at the likely ongoing costs before deciding whether it will be better for any particular application or project. This will depend on the service levels offered by the Cloud solutions provider and particularly in respect of data volume and its retention period.

There may also be additional fees for data transfer, bandwidth usage, encryption, backup, and recovery. It is important therefore to look carefully at different options and choose one that matches likely future needs and not just current requirements.

For the majority of installations, the level of resilience and redundancy on offer via the Cloud is likely to be more than sufficient. For high security or mission critical applications, it obviously makes sense to have a back-up plan, as no service provider can offer a 100% guarantee against any disruption caused by natural disasters or technical issues, although of course these same risks can affect an on-site system management hardware bases solution.

You can shop our complete range of cloud-based security systems, or if you would like any advice, please contact us for more information.

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