Access Control: Get Your Head in the Cloud

Access Control: Get Your Head in the Cloud

When you take a good, hard look at your access control system, do you see proprietary panels, readers, software and servers? A system that’s inflexible, difficult to manage and several upgrades behind? A functional but limited solution built on yesterday’s technology? If so, it’s time to put your head in the cloud—open architecture cloud-based systems are more secure, flexible and scalable than ever before.

To the cloud, slowly

Putting access control systems in the cloud has been an achingly slow process in the security industry, inhibited mostly by outdated perceptions that security data can’t possibly be safe in the cloud.

Cloud security is a real trust issue both the industry and customers must get past, says Trey West, VP and Chief Technical Officer with Knight Security Systems.

“It’s definitely a comfort level thing, a shift in thinking from an on-premise closed approach to a cloud approach,” says West, noting that the companies building huge data centers hosted in the cloud—Amazon and Microsoft, for example—are investing a lot of money and resources to protect data and their reputations.

The fact is, cloud-based systems are safer than on-premise systems, says West. “Everything in the cloud is encrypted and protected and backed up in case of system failure, so you’re a lot more assured to have reliability and redundancy in the cloud than you are in your own data center with aging equipment.

“The quality and reliability of networks is substantially better than it was 10-15 years ago,” says West, who notes that access control systems keep working at the building level even if they get disconnected from the cloud. “So if your connectivity is broken, the system still works and will push all that historical transaction data to the cloud and let the device know exactly what happened while it was offline.”

Another clear advantage of cloud systems: upgrades happen. When systems need to be upgraded, new features and capabilities happen automatically in the cloud. In contrast, proprietary system upgrades are often delayed or never happen at all due to limited maintenance resources.

Flexible at any size

Cloud-based access control systems give companies unsurpassed flexibility and are suitable for single-door applications up to large networked systems in multiple facilities. An open architecture approach leaves proprietary thinking behind, allowing customers to choose from a wide range of third-party devices and solutions, The result: flexible, scalable and need-focused systems.

Cloud-based systems don’t have to be a rip-and-replace option. Many existing devices can be integrated into a new system that centralizes credential management, merges video surveillance and streamlines operations from a single location.

Why do cloud systems lag?

So why are customers so hesitant to implement cloud-based access control systems that are safer, easier to install, more flexible and scalable, and deliver lower total cost of ownership?

For some, cloud data security will always be the speed bump, but the resistance is also rooted in a if-it-works-don’t-change-it mentality. Traditional and IP-based access control systems can have a shelf life of 15-20 years. If growth is slow and everything is still working, there is typically not enough pain to consider major changes or embrace a cloud-based system.

What often prompts a move to the cloud is growth. As private data centers grow and new facilities are added, instead of tackling more licensing, maintenance and infrastructure costs, corporations are choosing to push functionality up into the cloud and essentially lease the capacity and expertise they need to move forward. Cloud-based systems are uniquely scalable, so adding or subtracting capacity and functionality can be done very efficiently.

And then there’s wireless.

Beyond even cloud computing is the move to wireless. “There’s a lot to love about wireless,” says West. “Anytime you can put a device on the door without the need to wire anything, that’s going to be a lot less expensive.”   

Knight Security Systems is a security systems integrator, focused on Honor, Integrity and Service. Knight’s advanced security solutions include access control, video surveillance, intrusion as well as fire detection systems. Knight’s headquarters are located in Austin, with offices in Dallas, Houston, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Edinburg and San Antonio. For more information, visit

Posted by Phil Lake on Mar 17, 2017

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