What are the most valuable features of cloud security?
15 Mar 2018
Cloud computing has been around since the turn of the millennium. Over the years, the concept of storing and accessing programs over the Internet (instead of using an on-premises computer system) has grown in almost every realm of business. Some might say the physical security industry has come late to the party, delayed in some instances by (misguided?) concerns about cybersecurity of cloud systems. The bandwidth needed to transfer video to the cloud has also been a challenge. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What features of Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) are the most valuable to the average user?
When people in the security industry think about cloud technology and video, many of them will immediately think about video storage services. Certainly, cloud storage is a growing trend, with CIOs looking to adopt centralised storage models for all types of corporate data, including video. While we have yet to see the large-scale deployment of video to the cloud for security purposes, as corporations continue to upgrade their networks to accommodate more traffic and as bandwidth costs continue to drop, expect to see it grow in popularity. On the services side, other types of cloud-based solutions offer multiple end user benefits. Chief among these is the ability to outsource the infrastructure and resources required to manage large enterprise systems. This allows system administrators to save both time and the associated costs for solutions that provide everything from wide video system health monitoring and management to customised remote video auditing.
SaaS is finally becoming mainstream as the technology continues to mature, connectivity improves, competition increases, and the concept becomes more accessible to the SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprise) segment. The defining features are well understood, but for me, the average user will benefit from near universal access and information from any location. SaaS removes geographical boundaries and offers secure access to data spanning CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise retail planning), HR (human resources) and increasingly Fire and Security solutions, without the need to maintain expensive dedicated or closed protocol “on prem” IT hardware. Our industry is only just beginning to leverage the power of Cloud and SaaS, but the advantages of speed and ease of deployment, high availability, data security and remote diagnostics combined with the inherent ability to join-up data from different sources will increasingly drive demand from end users to transition to cloud-first and eventually cloud-only environments.
With cloud-based access control and video management, all users gain the flexibility to control and manage access to their facilities remotely without the expense and addition of dedicated IT expertise. This means extensive cost savings with regards to infrastructure and resource investments. Users also gain the value of being able to view live and recorded video on demand, while managing users, building reports and reviewing alarms – all from a user-friendly Web-based interface or application running on a mobile phone. One of the largest benefits is automatic updates. Knowing you never have to remember to update your software, or pay for someone to update your software, is a major plus. This is a nice guarantee that you are using the most up-to-date and secure version of software, ensuring cyber vulnerabilities are addressed. These guarantees and cost savings are the value you receive and what you pay for with a cloud-based service.
Among the many features of cloud-based SaaS, here are three I believe are among the most valuable:
- Cloud-based SaaS eliminates the need for internal infrastructure — there are no new servers needed, eliminating up-front costs and long-term maintenance issues;
- SaaS lets the experts manage the system/environment – for large corporations this isn’t an issue, but for small- to medium-sized companies, each new application adds a requirement for increased knowledge by a limited group of IT people. By letting the manufacturer manage the environment, you take the burden off stretched or even non-existent IT staff;
- The Cloud is accessible from anywhere, and it can be deployed without allowing anything into a company’s network — offering ease of use and access coupled with higher level security is a powerful combination.
Removing the burden of maintaining an IT infrastructure is an attractive aspect of cloud-based systems, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. The ability to keep cloud systems perpetually updated is another strong benefit in our age of heightened concerns about cybersecurity. More flexibility, universal accessibility, no geographic boundaries, and ease of deployment are some of the other benefits mentioned by our Expert Panel Roundtable. In short, cloud systems provide plenty of value for end users, which will likely push even more systems to the cloud in coming years.