Many facility security end-users desire the promised productivity and savings achieved with the transition to a cloud computing environment. End-users benefit from advantages - particularly with client/server architectures, including: Web-based software; a higher Return on Investment; increased productivity; ease of scalability; resiliency; and a focus on security operations, not the security system itself.
End-users who want to exploit the benefits of the cloud would be wise to evaluate an emerging, yet proven, architecture that offers an effective alternative for cloud based Physical Access Control Systems: Network Appliance Solutions.
Network Appliance Architecture
The Network Appliance architecture momentum has largely been driven by the Internet, the frustration with managing Windows-based servers, and the rising adoption of Open Source technology.
It is an architecture that delivers all of the important cloud value propositions - in some cases with superior design leading to lower overall costs - both on site and in private, while avoiding cloud characteristics that could have undesirable effects.
Cloud computing is associated with a wide range of values, definitions and benefits. For our discussion purposes, the Cloud promise is defined as "a deployment that better allows end-users to focus on their business, while enjoying reduced costs, increased productivity, simplified scalability and increased system resiliency." A major portion of access control systems are sold to small-to-medium businesses, so let's examine how a Network Appliance Solution can achieve the same promise for end-users in the SMB segment.
Low Cost, Increased Productivity
A network appliance consists of a bundled/preconfigured "server" that provides out-of-the-box program readiness in minutes, much like a Linksys router. An appropriately designed appliance eliminates the requirement for end-users to install and maintain the operating system and database.
Network appliances using Open Source technology also eliminate up-front and ongoing operating system and database license fees. Network appliances based on pure Web-based architecture provide added savings by eliminating client license fees for the application software. Simply put, an end-user merely needs a computer, Web browser of choice and secure login ID to use the software.
The appliance includes an operating system, database and Web server. While component choices are available for each, care must be taken when evaluating products. For example, some manufacturers bundle their appliance with a Windows operating system. This environment introduces many nuisances, including increased startup and upgrade cost, ongoing system management and security/virus patches to apply.
Appliance solutions using relational database management systems many times inflict these same problems. Open source technology (Linux, Open LDAP) addresses these potential pain points and are found on certain network appliances. Adoption of Open Source technology is a widely accepted practice for leading enterprise IT development, delivering high quality products, rich feature sets, flexibility, control and no vendor lock-in.
What about mission critical apps? More than 90 percent of world's top 500 supercomputers run Linux. Plus, Linux enjoys a majority and increasing market share in the web server market.
System Scalability & Resiliency
As end-users grow their business, Network Appliances are easily upgraded to handle system expansion, typically by simply installing a new license file. Systems may start large or small and can seamlessly expand, keeping existing appliance and field hardware infrastructure in place.