The Cloud Keeps Evolving in 2017

The Cloud Keeps Evolving in 2017

The expected and surprising ways the Cloud will change in coming years

Earlier in 2016, when Gartner analysts stated that by 2020, 80 percent of all software will be offered on a subscription basis—this did not come as surprise to us at Genetec. Now, in early 2017, much has changed since we introduced Stratocast in 2013, our video surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS). Four years ago, we had already begun to unlock new possibilities of the cloud, and what is coming in 2017 excites us.

The Cloud for City and Community Safety and Crime Prevention

One important highlight from 2016 was seeing our VSaaS becoming an integral component to community safety programs, like the highly successful Project Green Light in Detroit. This publicprivate community partnership combines 1080p high-resolution video surveillance with high-speed network real-time federated video feeds to the Detroit Police Department. The program was created for gas stations and smaller businesses including restaurants, liquor stores and convenience stores across the city to promote neighborhood safety and support local businesses by deterring, identifying and solving crimes. Since its introduction in early 2016, the program has helped reduce crime by up to 50 percent at the original eight locations with the ‘green light’ on top of their signs. Many more businesses are now enrolled across the city with great enthusiasm by both the city and business owners.

Cloud Storage and Computing: All the Way or Hybrid On-Premises/Cloud Mix

By providing flexible cloud-only or hybrid-cloud storage options for our unified flagship security platform, Security Center, our end-users quickly understood the cost and resource benefits the cloud could offer. It began making more sense, and not only cost benefits, but end users will start to benefit from some incredible new applications and functionalities.

In 2017, the security industry will continue to embrace the cloud and what it offers, finding effective ways to connect more applications and devices to the network, while providing secure access to share vital information. The cloud is the facilitator of how we process, store and manage all physical security data. Now that some of the misconceptions about the cloud are cleared up, we will see more organizations than ever before investing in software- as-a-service (SaaS) and hybrid-cloud deployment models for video surveillance, access control and additional value-added applications that will enhance these systems.

We know about the benefits and features of the cloud, but in 2017, what we find exciting is that in the security industry will start to realize even more interesting ways to benefit from what a cloud-supported infrastructure can offer. The first vector will be the way the cloud will enable collaboration within an enterprise, and across multiple boundaries to manage multiple locations and offer a truly federated way to serve, protect, manage and share security operations via the cloud.

The second vector will focus on how companies can leverage the cloud to work with big data analytics, to distill business intelligence through machine learning. Security professionals will be able to correlate both security data and non-security related data (like social media activity based on location and topics), find patterns and gain insights. The cloud will additionally allow us to look at other types of security data that is not being leveraged for analytics, such as access control logs.

Confidence of Moving to the Cloud in 2017

Now that companies trust the cloud, and have moved a significant number of workloads to the cloud, the next logical step will be to establish and work with their security systems in the cloud. Companies are recognizing that there are significant benefits to getting their IT through the cloud. Just in the way end-users switched from proprietary analog systems to open-architecture IP systems, once the technology was successfully implemented and early adopters validated its benefits, the cloud has continued to permeate the security industry, and will increase over the coming the years.

Another way to look at the advent of cloud technology is similar to the electrical utilities in the early 1900s. Back at the turn of the 20th century, every company had its own electricity manufacturing plant that powered their industrial facilities. Obviously, the model of ‘make-your-own-electricity’ no longer exists. It’s far too expensive. Electrical companies have been outsourced as public and private utilities, and some are supported by organizations that invest in technologies to generate and supply reliable power.

The same way electricity distribution grids have been a huge success, outsourcing of non-core competency is happening in computing and storage. As hesitation subsides, organizations will plug into a network and find storage and computing capacity immediately available, which should be predictable, well managed, secure, accessible and reliable.

Is the Cloud Safer than an On-Premises Server?

In a word, Yes. Naturally, the cloud must be hosted by a reputable service entity. Working in the cloud is all about trust. Cloud service providers need to establish a proven and trusted reputation and performance record with their customers. To do this, they must implement cybersecurity best practices, and provide 100 percent transparency. Just think of the risks of a data breach and the threat of exposing all your customers and clients to datatheft, loss or even distributed denial of service (DDOS). It’s definitely a way to kill your business. Cloud providers take security very serious, because they know their customers trust them to keep information safe and away from cyber criminals.

Service providers have great capabilities to aggregate their cloud services to many customers and provide better service and solutions by having exclusive personnel trained to take care of being sure data in the cloud is secure. This is all in place of having an over-worked in-house IT staff, limited resources, or most likely never enough budget to implement the latest cybersecurity, keep hardware updated and cooled, and backups in case of catastrophic actions or ransomware attacks.

From a scale perspective, most businesses, enterprise customers, cities & communities don’t have the budgets or flexibility to justify the cost of what a cloud hosted system or storage can offer. Simply having your servers or computing boxes on the physical properly will not assure they are more secure that in the cloud. A strong cybersecurity posture can be much better managed by cloud service providers’ vs doing it yourself. Whom you trust your cloud services also matters greatly. With larger, reputable companies like Amazon or Microsoft, we can feel more secure with, as opposed to Bob’s cloud garage, running a data center from his basement. Making the due diligence steps to assure that safety and cybersecurity by the cloud provider however is still much easier and cost effective than managing, protecting and maintaining an on-premises server for the majority of end-users.

Location, Location, Location: Geography of Hosting

From a Geography perspective, in 2017, we will definitely see many data sovereignty issues resolved. Naturally, all companies are concerned with where their information is kept with regards to exactly which governments could have access to that data. British cloud customers want their data hosted in the UK, closer to their place of business. French, German, and Scandinavian end-users wish to have their data hosted in their same respective countries. We understand that. With concerns of privacy and geographic data residency issues being more and more prevalent, the major cloud service providers are addressing these issues in 2017. Cloud suppliers like Microsoft Azure are aggressively expanding their cloud service and storage centers around the globe.

Selling the Cloud: Integrators are Recognizing the RMR Upside

Helping educate industry integrators to adopt the new business model of adopting the cloud will continue in 2017. New sales models for the cloud gives integrators a foundation to establish a new predictable recurring monthly revenue (RMR) income stream that has the potential to surpass one-off sales over a longer period of time.

2017 will continue driving the imminent shift towards software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud services and extensible applications. Savvy end-users will also seek out integrators who understand cloud services that can broker multiple types of cloud-based solutions from different providers, and unify them all within a single platform. Integrators, who can shift their business model and become specialists in cloud technologies, will be able to generate highly-profitable recurring monthly revenues, with steady, predictable payment streams for a healthy business outlook. Ultimately, the cloud is here to stay, and although the market percentage is still small in relation to the entire security industry, the significant opportunity is there for integrators who augment their business to offer cloud-based services, and for end-users and communities to benefit from enhanced services and lower cost of operations, over a long period of time.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Security Today.

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