At last year’s GSX trade show in Chicago, the talk of the town was “cloud.” How do I use it? What can it do for my security business? Where is it going?
Cloud-based services have quickly emerged as a viable option. For end-users, the cloud enables remote management of security solutions, enabling resources to be more focused on other business priorities. For integrators/dealers looking to diversify their businesses, cloud-based services enable them to meet the needs of a changing market.
This certainly was not the case several years ago, but the mystery that has clouded this technology (pun intended) is beginning to transform with growing awareness and education. We are continuing to hear about the benefits of the cloud as the technology becomes more familiar.
The security industry as we know it is changing. While there will continue to be an influx of large-scale enterprise projects that require capital investments of security devices and integration needs, there is a sizable shift in how businesses are approaching security.
The “as-a-service” model that benefits cloud providers continues to grow in popularity, capitalizing on the need for SMBs to save money on large up-front investment in favor of services that offer a more scalable, pay-as-you-use-it model.
Embracing these services can help future-proof an integrator’s business as the market changes and concerns emerge about a possible weakening economy, which may prompt some companies to avoid the large capital expenditure of procuring a new on-premise system and instead opt for the minimal investment needed for a cloud system.
Despite some security integrators resisting the cloud services model for their business, there are a number of forward-thinking organizations that are looking to their integrator partners for guidance into the future of security. The benefits – both well-known and unknown – of such a service can deliver integrators the kind of recurring revenue that they need to help forecast incoming investments and plan for a bright future with the cloud.
Many already know that cloud-based services provide centralized management, remote accessibility and flexibility; here are six further benefits the cloud can offer a security integration business:
1. Entry into a growing vertical market. The vast majority of integrators focus a lot of time and effort on large-scale projects that can yield higher revenues for the company, such as enterprise organizations with high camera counts and door controls (plus any number of other integrated platforms); however, there is an entire market that can benefit from investing in security solutions that are cloud-based: small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
SMBs encompass any number of industries, from financial services to retailers, restaurants, property management companies and fitness clubs. This segment of the market has often been underserved and is emerging as one of the fastest growing for service-based solutions.
2. Reduced training time. Cloud-based services are well-known for their intuitive platforms – after all, they are geared toward an end-user who might not have an IT or security background. As a result, integrators also benefit from being able to troubleshoot issues for an end-user or answer support questions without having to attend an extensive certification course. This is a big benefit for smaller integrators that might not have the manpower to take time out for additional training prior to working with a cloud-based service.
3. Resource savings across the board. You have heard the old adage – time is money – and in the integrator world, this could not be truer. Installations take time when you are building on-premise infrastructure that requires on-site servers, setup and the manual addition of security devices, such as cameras and access readers.
This is time that can be better spent reaching potential new clients (and introducing them to the benefits the cloud presents). With the cloud, integrators no longer have to make service calls to remote locations to “set up” a system. When implementing a cloud-based service, simply plugging a gateway into the network allows an integrator the ability to automatically add cameras and other devices into the unified platform and individually customize each video feed – all remotely.
4. Automatic updates. When your smartphone needs an update, it is received automatically. You may have to ensure the phone is connected to Wi-Fi or charging, but the update is pushed from your phone manufacturer directly to you, which often easily addresses security fixes and delivers functionality updates. This is the beauty of having a cloud-based device. The same holds true for integrators – the cloud is always up-to-date, and cloud providers have the ability to roll out added features every time they update the system, making the integrator’s job a little easier by eliminating the need to “remote in” to update software at each and every site.
5. Built-in cybersecurity. For a long time, the feedback received when mentioning the cloud was that it is not secure. This came from a lot of misinformation being spread about how the cloud worked and where data was being stored; however, as giants such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services have proven time and time again, the extensive levels of cybersecurity protocols that are in place have allayed cybersecurity concerns.
Alternatively, without the proper maintenance and service, on-premise data servers can be less secure when protocols have not been met, such as ports being left open or if a firewall is implemented incorrectly or bypassed altogether. All of these common practices can make data less secure than in a cloud-based server.
6. Making AI more intelligent. The ability of video data to be gathered from a number of dispersed locations brings the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to a new level. AI learns behaviors through the addition of more and more data from the world, which means that the more data collected, the better the computer is able to identify anomalies and abnormal behavior.
AI that is applied to video data stored on-premise is limited by the information from that location; thus, if a business wants the ability to assess video from a number of locations and make determinations on usage areas – foot traffic patterns and dwell times, for example – it will be restricted.
Video data that is collected and stored via the cloud, aggregated across locations and has AI applied to it can make business insights more widely applicable and therefore more valuable.
Cody Flood is Director of Sales for Arcules. Request more info about the company at www.securityinfowatch.com/21069606.