Hosted and managed security services, be it access control or video surveillance, have been around for a number of years. Although there are differences between managed offerings (systems operated and maintained by a third-party provider) and hosted services (leased infrastructure controlled by the customer), they both offer tremendous advantages to end users and security integrators.
One of the primary benefits of either a managed or hosted access control or video platform is that it enables end users to reduce the footprint of their security infrastructure, such as the numerous servers and recorders that are typically required to run a large-scale security system. It also simplifies the service and maintenance process for users, shifting the burden of things like software updates to the service provider.
For integrators, hosted and managed services provides them with an opportunity to establish a recurring revenue model. Of course, there are still a number of challenges involved in providing these services, not the least of which can include reassuring skeptical customers of the security of managed and hosted platforms given the ever-increasing number of high-profile data breaches. SIW recently caught up with executives from several systems integration firms across the country to get their take on the current landscape of hosted and managed security offerings.
SIW-STE: How has technology evolved in the hosted and managed security services space and how have end users come to embrace it?
Chris Wetzel, executive vice president and founder, Intertech Security: End users are getting much more comfortable with a hosted platform, whether it is access or video. It allows end users to take a system and have a lot of the same functionality that you would have with an enterprise solution. They can also move into that platform starting from scratch with their first card reader having the functionality. As the system grows, they have the flexibility to manage that platform in-house. With this approach end users haven’t lost any of their investment and they still have all of the functionality they want. If they are trying to figure out how to migrate from an existing system away from it, the hosted platform might give them a way to migrate using this different technology on an enterprise platform. Over time they can then assess the approach they want to take to replace their existing system by having some exposure on a small scale without a lot of cost on a hosted or managed application.
Brad Wilson, president and COO, RFI Communications & Security Systems: I think the end users are pretty savvy today. End users are used to trusting the cloud and depending on those types of support services. They are also very aware, especially as younger professionals move into our industry, that there are a lot of disparate systems out there. All of sudden they’ve got this security network or systems to deal with and they’re really looking for convenience and simplification and we, as an industry, tend to make things very hard and complicated.
John Nowak, senior vice president, VTI Security: I would agree that these types of services are a more readily acceptable business model today than they were a few years ago, but they’re still kind of a challenge on the sales front, discussing the business value and showing the customers exactly how these services raise profits and lower costs. Coming from the advanced integration side of the business, we see some of these services fall down at a certain level, so there are some things that you just can’t accomplish in a cloud environment today that I’m sure will be addressed as products and solutions evolve in the future – making these things easier and more readily attainable off of a network device.