Just Say “Yes” to the Cloud
Blending digital and traditional security at your facility
- By Peter Boriskin
- Sep 01, 2018
Cloud technology began with the concept of grid computing—
the idea that we could replicate the way a
power grid in a country was set up. It was designed so
no single fault could take down the entire system or
compromise our data. It was an insurance policy. It
was security through redundancy, but cloud computing has become
much, much more.
What the cloud provides today is not just that redundancy, but
also a rental service for businesses of all sizes, or even individuals, to
take advantage of always-available online storage that is managed by
For years, several enterprise software solutions required robust
storage on securely-built servers located in-house. These servers required
an IT department to monitor them, and a level of facilities
management to ensure they remained temperature controlled.
With the introduction of the cloud, small- and medium-sized
businesses no longer need to worry about setting up and maintaining
a server array to store corporate information. Today, all companies
are able to store data in a location that is monitored 24/7 by
IT professionals who ensure uptime, watch for potential failures and
actively work to halt intrusions.
The cloud has become a core enabler of bringing sophisticated
enterprise solutions to all businesses.
Is the Cloud for Me?
Those who are skeptical of the cloud may find comfort in the fact
that it offers myriad benefits to many Fortune 500 companies, as well
as one of the most cautious entities on earth: the government. Yes,
the government is now taking on a cloud-first strategy where server
deployment only occurs if a cloud solution is completely unavailable.
The traditional method of storing data is no longer considered a viable
solution except in the most dire of circumstances.
These groups are typically using a blend of public, consumer facing
cloud services for file sharing and privately controlled servers to
create their own cloud for file storage. That said, they are still taking
advantage of the same benefits anyone can leverage from a consumerfacing
cloud: reduced cost, simple storage, and, of course, those impressive
Further, the cloud is flexible in ways that adapt specifically to an
organization’s needs. There may be a situation where it makes sense to use a hybrid model. One example seen
quite frequently is using a third-party cloud
provider for storage of information but managing
application-level information on-site.
We also see the inverse of this scenario where
some sectors may be required by law to store
Using the cloud also removes a number of
issues with the DIY method of storing data.
Free software may be provided by a manufacturer,
but it is hardly free. It requires users
to purchase and operate their own computers,
keep them working as close to 100 percent
of the time as possible, and makes the
user liable for any potential breach.
However, at a reputable cloud facility, all
data is being stored in total compliance with
local laws and requirements, boasts uptimes
judged by the hundredths of a percentage,
and is maintained by expert staff.
In short: the cloud is likely to be much
more reliable than any system most end users
could operate on their own.
Blending IT Security with
Fast forward to the “traditional” security
industry—the access control, video surveillance,
alarm trades—and suddenly the cloud
is an opportunity to offer robust networked
solutions to every business. With cloud computing,
everyone can now access the power
of a built-out storage facility offering a type
of “armor-plated” security for their data.
For manufacturers and integrators this
development is huge.
Our background might not be in cybersecurity
or IT security but by taking advantage
of highly secure cloud storage, we gain
the ability to offer automatic backup, threat
detection, intrusion monitoring, and a staff
of dedicated network professionals. We can
also achieve regional compliance specific to
the location where data is stored by partnering
with cloud services in multiple countries.
When to Use the
Cloud in Security
While it is true that every vertical and every
segment can benefit from cloud technology,
there are a few sweet spots in terms of security.
For example, multi-family or mixed-use
residential properties are door dense and
infrastructure poor environments. Regardless
of whether it is a historical building,
new construction, retrofit or some area in
between—they are almost always facilities
full of doors and without a dedicated IT
If you look at lock management solutions
for this market, you’ll see how cloud-based
software can vastly improve administration.
Not only does it eliminate the cost and maintenance
of on-site servers but it also allows
for remote access from any authorized computer,
tablet, phone or other device. And of
course, at the risk of sounding redundant, it
comes with the knowledgeable staff at the
cloud service provider offering a high level
Small and medium-sized businesses are
also well suited for cloud-based solutions.
They are often door dense environments
and are unlikely to have a dedicated IT staff
member. Using a cloud-based solution allows
all door openings to be monitored securely
from any location. This is also true for
other systems such as video monitoring or
Looking a bit deeper into this we find
unique situations such as assisted living.
These are no longer just tenants—they are
also patients. Privacy laws in this space could
be violated if someone were to gain access
to a name attached to a credential or had
access to data related to security. Under
HIPAA laws, for example, a fine can often be
assessed based on a security breach and the
loss of multiple pieces of data from a selfmaintained
server could result in putting a
provider out of business.
In all of these scenarios, the standard
best practice is to rely on a cloud provider
to store data. There are a number of manufacturers
that provide cloud-based software
that fully encrypts data from your keyboard
to the server.
Work With the Experts
As mentioned before, there has historically
been a “free” software option for several
types of building management software,
where users take on the responsibility of
installing, updating and maintaining the
server environment. However, most modern
solutions allow companies to outsource the
management of their servers, much the way
they outsource payroll or any other function
which isn’t core to the business.
Best practice is to go to the experts on
data storage when it comes to blending data
security with traditional security.
Find manufacturers who are offering
cloud-based software and are actively providing
a solution for the data storage component
built into the product. Whether an enduser
or integrator, going this route creates a
partnership with the manufacturer that ensures
you are always up-to-date in terms of
software and code compliance. Further, you
are provided a level of customer support at
both the application and server level.
In short: the cloud lowers costs, minimizes
risk, and provides secure access to systems
from nearly any device.
Best of all: it is available
to everyone today.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.