Just Say “Yes” to the Cloud

Just Say “Yes” to the Cloud

Blending digital and traditional security at your facility

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 professionals.

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 security features.

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 information on-site.

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 Traditional Security

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 professional.

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 of security.

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 fire detection.

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.


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