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Moving the Discussion Forward

Cloud services shift is really happening

Only a few years ago, the inevitable shift to all things Cloud was met with guarded optimism. But today, the shift is really happening. Beyond storage, the cloud is benefitting our security industry with cloud-based services, otherwise known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). That’s because end users are increasingly seeking easier and more affordable ways to manage infrastructure growth, become more connected, remain agile, and access emerging technologies.

From government agencies and universities to retailers and transportation hubs, customers are seeing greater value in a full-service cloud offering. These organizations are looking at solutions outside their own environment to lower costs and take the strain off their resources. They are turning to experts and outsourcing tasks including server maintenance, software upgrades and cyber security, understanding these are intrinsically not their core competency. And, they are buying the solutions and these all-encompassing services with minimal upfront investment. This article will show how the cloud offering has evolved in the security industry and what this active shift means for customers and integrators.

A Closer Look at the Evolution of SaaS

At Genetec, some of the first real-life applications we offered included extending storage in the cloud for on-premises systems. Without having to procure and maintain expensive servers or get IT teams involved, security teams used cloud services to increase their storage capacity, hold video for longer periods of time, or even build backups. In case of floods, fires, or unexpected events, the cloud storage served as an integral component in their disaster recovery programs.

While these services are still readily available, our strategy is wholly focused on offering the full extent of our capabilities in the cloud and pushing innovation forward with new cloudbased solutions.

The intent is to provide the customer with more value by eliminating a lot of the unnecessary costs in managing the infrastructure.

Whether that includes updating software, managing servers, increasing or decreasing capacity based on needs, cloud services enable customers to reduce costs and become more adaptable to change.

Furthermore, the innate connectivity and elasticity of the cloud allow us to democratize enterprise solutions, making them more readily accessible and affordable to the masses. In other words, our innovation is not limited to larger enterprises that have the budgets and technical resources to keep systems optimized. From video surveillance and access control systems to decision support and evidence management applications, small or medium-sized business or those with limited resources can access these technologies with minimal upfront investment, for any duration of time.

In fact, it’s one of the biggest perks of the SaaS model. From an investment perspective, the customer can significantly reduce the initial capital outlay by opting for a SaaS solution.

The purchase shifts from being a large capital expense to a more predictable operational cost. There is also less perceived risk in the SaaS model. Instead of the onetime buy with hope for the best long-term outcome, organizations can subscribe to the solution on a shorter-term basis. If the customer is unsatisfied, or no longer needs the software, they can easily deactivate service. The true risk is transferred to the provider, who now must take onus for the solution and its promise to deliver value within the organization. It’s important to clarify that SaaS is not limited to the cloud.

SaaS is a software subscription model that can also be offered as an on-premises deployment with a level of cloud connectivity. Take Microsoft Office 365 for example; the application is installed and running on a local computer but still connected to the cloud for updates.

Why Hybrid Cloud Installs Will Remain Mainstream

Due to the nature of certain applications, there will always be a need for onpremises installations. Some organizations will want to maintain certain systems or components on site. It’s why we often see customers opting for hybrid cloud applications. The hybrid cloud model allows organizations to self-host and maintain their systems while adding certain applications in the cloud. In certain cases, this could be driven by the need for extra storage, as mentioned earlier.

In other cases, the customer may want to access cloud-based capabilities such as investigation management. In this instance, the sheer connectivity of the cloud allows many stakeholders such as security departments, outside agencies, and the public, to share evidence and speed up investigations. To build this level of collaboration on-premises would be an extremely costly and challenging task.

Simply put, complementing on-premises systems with cloud services is an easy and affordable way for organizations to access capabilities that otherwise would be out of reach. The same principle holds true for a multi-site access control system. Cloud-based access control services facilitate a central database which can be accessed by many sites. With the cloud, access to technology becomes broadly accessible.

How Integrators Will Adapt to Cloud Services

So, what does this all mean for integrators? There is significant value in providing managed services, but the business model changes. Instead of receiving one large payment for services rendered, an integrator can now expand their recurring revenue stream. The relationship with the customer will also evolve, whereby integrator will become the trusted advisor over longer-term contracts.

This creates an opportunity for the integrator to provide more value by suggesting ways of making multiple SaaS solutions work together or complementing SaaS solutions with contracts for managed services and bundled hardware. The integrator can even take on a more integral part of growth strategy, risk assessments or general improvements to help customer reach business outcomes.

Moving Innovation Ahead in the Cloud

Whether we realize it or not, cloud services is something most of us use daily in our personal endeavours. From Netflix to Amazon and online banking, we all interact with SaaS applications. Because of this, more individuals expect the same experience in their worklife. They want more modern apps, frequent updates, greater flexibility, and they want it now.

Therefore, it only makes sense that more organizations are eagerly seeking out these pay-as-you-go services. Beyond easing stress on IT and security departments, SaaS helps them stay adaptable and open to new technologies and reduce costs.

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

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