Defining Cloud-based Solutions

By Bill Hogan

Cloud-based security solutions have been all the buzz in the industry for the past year, with many video surveillance and access control manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon to introduce their latest cloud-based offering to the market.

As the number of products called cloud-based increases, as a security professional have you ever wondered what defines a true cloud solution and how does one determine the difference between a solution that claims to be cloud based from one that really is?

While many security manufacturers state they offer a cloud-based solution, the reality is that very few, an estimated four percent, are a true cloud-based solution. A true cloud-based solution is defined as one that offers a fully scalable architecture that not only lives in the cloud but was also born in the cloud. It can be accessed from anywhere, any device and on any modern web browser.

For example, social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, are cloud-based solutions. So too is Netflix, even though it requires an app to provide intellectual property protection on mobile devices. A majority of true cloud based solutions require that little to no software be installed on client devices.

It’s time for security professionals to start to pay attention to cloud-base solutions because the benefits far outweigh the downsides. For example, both small and large companies have the ability to seamlessly scale up their systems with a cloud-based solution. It can be timely, costly and a painful experience to take down every server, upgrade servers, update field panels and put them back online every time a new software version is released. A well-designed cloud-based solution using AI (Artificial Intelligence) can initiate an update once every two weeks, eliminating downtime and the expensive cost often associated with system upgrades.

Cloud-based architecture should enable a single database to span across the entire product for every client, which ensures product version control. Every client is then on the same version and has access to the same firmware / software version.

Cloud-based video storage also provides added protection, ensuring that video evidence cannot be destroyed by tampering with an NVR. Once the video is pushed to the cloud, regardless of what happens to the NVR, that video has been captured and saved.

The technology market is going through a tremendous evolution, as more of the everyday solutions and devices we use in both the home and business become IT and network centric. The security industry is no different, with cloud-based solutions paving the way for more streamlined, secure, resilient and redundant systems.

Free Yourself of Data Clutter – Consider the Cloud

by Joseph Liguori

Don’t we all wish we had more room? Anyone who has moved knows the frustration of having to sort through years of clutter and then make the decision about what to do with it — keep it, sell it, put it in storage?

In the physical security world, managing data is a bit like tackling the stuff in our own homes. Every door in an access control plan, every badge issued and scanned and every camera in a surveillance system generates usable, archiveable data. The data may be critical for use at this very moment, or companies may want to have it at the ready in case they need to search it to see a particular incident or put together reports on activity patterns.

Integrators have helped out their clients by becoming keepers of the data. For the end user, the benefit is that instead of investing in high-cost, space-hogging servers and handling some of the administrative duties behind their access control systems, they have handed off this task to integrators who store and manage the data, based on their needs.

This scenario frees the client from having to invest in and manage the servers on site, while still being able to perform some functions locally, such as determining which doors to open and close, or who should be granted access to a particular location. For the end user, it because both a cost- and a time-saving proposition.

While this becomes a win for both parties, the integrator must now invest in and maintain a large number of servers or storage devices. This can be simplified if all that information is moved to the cloud.

Cloud-based managed access control unclutters, if you will, the integrators’ facility and puts the data that was stored locally into the third-party data centers that are designed specifically to handle huge amounts of data.

With a cloud-based system, both the end user and the integrator are beneficiaries of a more efficient storage scenario. The integrator retains the role of data keeper, but rather than having to invest in and physically maintain the servers associated with the access control or video surveillance systems, he becomes the conduit between his client’s data and the third-party provider. The end user is still able to perform the tasks that he wants control over, but the information resides not at his facility or his integrators, but within the cloud. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft Cisco, Google and IBM have all become cloud-based storage providers.

An advantage of cloud-based access control is that the amount of storage space isn’t restricted by the number or size of servers purchased, but rather is based on the amount of data used, so it can fluidly increase or decrease as needs change — and costs therefore can be based on actually usage even as it fluctuates.

This is true whether someone is storing transaction data from their access control system or video from hundreds of network video recorders (NVRs). In the latter case, instead of configuring NVRs to store data from video back ups, that information can be exported to a cloud-based platform.

And like the access control data, end users still have control over their cloud-stored video information, with the ability to adjust frame rates and determine storage requirements for one camera or a group of them.

Additionally, there is redundancy in the cloud, which greatly reduces the chance for lost data or images.

Just as businesses have sprung up to store our personal clutter, cloud-based data management is freeing up end users and integrators so they can focus on what they do best.