Though they have been around for a number of years, hosted security services, sometimes referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), are starting to gain more traction in the industry.
In fact, IMS Research predicted earlier this year that Video-Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS) would be one of the biggest trends driving growth in the video marketplace in 2010.
Given the recent economic downturn, the flexibility and potential cost savings benefits of a hosted access control or video surveillance platform are too strong for security managers to ignore. Companies using SaaS do not have to worry about maintenance issues such as software upgrades or future scalability. Many hosted access control and surveillance platforms have the ability to support residences and small businesses with just a few access points and cameras up to enterprise-class systems.
However, there are still reservations among some in the industry about moving some or all of their security operations to the cloud. Hosted service providers say most of those fears stem from a misunderstanding about how SaaS works or just simply fear of the unknown.
"I think it is a fear of not owning (the data) and not having that computer sitting in your server room or back office. There is a perception that the Internet is not secure and there is a misunderstanding about the things that can be done to secure Internet transmissions," said ADT Chief Technology Officer Jay Hauhn.
Despite those fears, most believe that hosted services are the future of security and will become more widely adopted across the spectrum.
"The move to put information in or deliver a software application from the cloud is actually not revolutionary, it is evolutionary," said Steve Surfaro, business development manager and industry liaison for Axis Communications.
Considering this evolution of hosted service, SIW takes at look several companies who are making their mark in the industry.
Offering both hosted video and access control platforms, Brivo is one of the largest SaaS companies in the security industry today. According to Brivo President and CEO Steve Van Till, the company is probably best known for its access control offering, which has been on the market since 2001. The company launched its hosted video offering at ISC West in 2009.
"Everything is moving to the cloud," Van Till said. "It is inevitable, just like using the Internet for business was inevitable."
All of the applications are hosted online by the company, which operates three different hosting facilities across the country. Van Till said that the majority of the company's business is in property management realm followed closely by retail. Brivo sells directly to the dealer channel and its prices are confidential.
Secure-i offers a hosted video services platform through the dealer channel. According to Secure-i Director of Business Development Brian Lohse, the company's dealer channel consists of systems integrators, central monitoring stations and IT firms/telecommunications providers.
As far as the company's market focus is concerned, Lohse said that Secure-i is more focused on enterprise-class, high-end applications. The company provides a couple of service levels to its dealers. The "White Label" service involves branding the entire Secure-i solution into the customer's website. Above just video, Secure-i also provides a full e-commerce system to dealers, which gives them their own Web portal to oversee customer accounts.
"We are certainly not the cheapest and don't ever intend to be, but we strive to be the best in terms of offering a platform that is a feasible replacement and/or supplement to enterprise NVRs for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies," he said.
For the past six years, ADT has offered end-users both a hosted card access service and a managed access control solution. As opposed to its hosted solution which provides the customer with head-end infrastructure and the ability to manage the system themselves, the managed service offering enables users to have ADT setup and manage their access control system.