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Access control ascends to the cloud

The emergence of cloud computing is not only disrupting the digital IT landscape, but it is also having a profound affect on the physical security industry as surveillance cameras and access control systems migrate to hosted environments. Access Control as a Service, in particular, is creating a buzz in the private sector as pundits and skeptics alike argue the definition of cloud-based access control.

A recent report by IMS Research noted that the physical security industry needs to come to an agreement on the definition of ACaaS before the technology can truly be adopted on a mainstream level.

Blake Kozak, a senior analyst at IMS Research and the author of the report, said there are generally two ACaaS offerings and only one embraces the true cloud, which means it is hosted in a multi-tenant environment, is highly scalable and is redundant.

"More specifically, multitenant is when one application serves all clients and each clients' datasets are partitioned on a server and kept secure. The application itself serves the entire ecosystem," Kozak said. "Scalable is when a customer needs to add – or subtract – users or doors and the system is able to adapt quickly to those needs. Redundancy is when backup servers are in place so the system is never crippled if a server fails."

Why is the cloud access control market growing?
Although there are a number of reasons why the market is really gaining momentum, the most significant is the fact that providers are trying to generate another stream of recurring revenue from companies needing ACaaS, even if the vendor's products are not true cloud material, IMS Research noted. As a result, decision-makers allured by the benefits of cloud-based physical access control need to evaluate each offering, as non-cloud services will be more expensive in the short and long run.

A separate report by HID Global said the increasing demand for integrated security systems, which combine multiple layers of physical defense under a single umbrella, is also driving the access control market toward the cloud.

As cloud-based access control systems become more widely adopted, executives need to ensure the virtual environment where authentication policies and keys are stored is secure, as even a small vulnerability may mean uninvited guests have the ability to enter and leave a facility at their own will.

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