Web-hosted access control solutions allow end-user security to create user directories, which are housed off-site on server farms. The application includes activity logs and other features. Display courtesy of Brivo Systems

Well, not exactly. However, Google Lab’s announcement last month follows or validates – depending if you own Google stock – an emerging security systems model: Web-based electronic access control.

Don’t bother buying Windows Excel software; don’t bother with software at all. Google Spreadsheets is a browser click away – just sign up for the service. You can create basic spreadsheets; upload CSV or XLS data; and save your work online or to your own computer. And there’s collaboration, too.

Is Bill Gates shaking in his Birkenstocks? Maybe. But Microsoft has got its own Web-based application experiments, too.

Whether spreadsheets or access control, history continues to repeat. Products turn into systems and systems turn into services. Security experts interviewed at major conferences believe the industry is in the middle of the second “turn.” There are caveats. For some, it is better to own than rent. And different people define Web-based access in vastly different ways.

Shift to browser GUI

Many access control system manufacturers and systems integrators who design have shifted to a browser GUI. Over a local area net, enterprise Intranet or wide area net, security uses the Web browser rather than software on a computer. It also eases the integration of access control with other security functions.

The approach yields significant business benefits including standardization across the enterprise, no matter the number or distance of location; scalability; universal and instantaneous upgrading; as well as a more traditional feeling of ownership. Web-based access systems that require no locally installed software also are better able to meet different and changing configurations while more easily integrating into various industry-leading hardware controllers.

Still, another advantage of the browser, especially in an emergency, is remote operation. Through the browser or an alarm event, security from any location can lock down a facility or a selected area or remote facility in an emergency situation instantaneously,

Then there’s IT.

Systems that require software being loaded on the organization’s network needs more IT involvement since it is responsible for the main integrity of the net.

Down on the farm

For a growing number of chief security officers and security directors, there’s yet another way to view Web-based electronic access control, one that’s best viewed from down on the farm, the server farm, that is.

Pioneering service providers – ASP or application service providers specializing in security – now can manage an end-user’s central access control database on a set of server farms. Enterprise security is not required to be connected to a specific personal computer or have any software on their computer or network at all. Enterprise security, however, has typical access control features locally. It’s what some call the ultimate in flexibility.

To understand this latter approach, the best analogy is online banking. Most security executives are familiar with that. They have a secure login and password that protects their data. It’s that same scenario with access control services free of local PCs or software.

SIDEBAR: VoIP – It Has Security Uses, Too

Voice over IP or VoIP – hotter for corporate and home phones than on Wall Street these days – also has plenty of volume when it comes to security applications.

For example, Talk-a-Phone’s Voice over IP (VoIP) Interface allows its 400-series emergency phones to be used over an IP data network. The VOIP-1 integrates seamlessly with existing VoIP phone systems, and supports all major VoIP protocols – H 323, SIP and SPP.

There will be a new set of buzzwords and features as VoIP catches on with security. For instance, voice prioritization often uses industry-standard Differentiated Services Protocol (DiffServ QoS). Equipment such as that from Talk-A-Phone has Ethernet connectivity and full IP compatibility with existing routers and WAN infrastructure.