Modern cloud based security systems and surveillance solutions have come a long way. While some companies continue to rely on the older technology they are accustomed to, traditional systems are continually being phased out in favor of the flexibility offered by cloud-based solutions.
Cloud-based systems have a myriad of advantages over older, on-premises security systems, and there is rarely an instance where an on-premises system is preferred over a cloud-based framework when installing a new setup. It is getting progressively easier to convert your old systems to a cloud-based network, so even if you don’t have the budget to buy all new equipment, making the change can still be advantageous for your business.
More than Cameras and Monitoring
Cloud-based solutions are being utilized by businesses for more than just security and surveillance. E-mail, applications, storage, and networks have all been successfully moved to cloud computing frameworks with little fuss. Security and surveillance have been following suit, as data protection has improved in recent years, and companies are enjoying the many benefits that come with choosing a cloud-based model.
One of the key benefits of a cloud-based security solution is that it enables native remote accessibility. You don’t have to configure servers for remote connectivity, which means you don’t have to compromise your network security by exposing ports to the outside. You no longer have to accept limited functionality from operating remotely or from using an on-premises system.
With a cloud-based system, you can fully operate the video and access system from anywhere, without any performance or functionality differences than operating on-premises. You are able to operate your system remotely with nothing more than a web browser, and the data is encrypted end-to-end. Your company can utilize your existing user authentication methods without compromising your network, and you are able to accept multiple types of entry.
Security administrators can remotely configure access for employees, as well as monitor the facilities via video, without the need to be there in-person. This allows for additional safety precautions during a pandemic or unrest. If you need to allow a maintenance person or contractor access to your site, you are also able to create a one-time-use code on demand. You will also be able to track when people entered your building, based on the individual access codes. This can make paperwork and spreadsheets easier to create, and allows you to restrict access to certain areas so that only necessary staff members are able to enter.
The cloud will always have the necessary processing power, regardless of the number of cameras connected, data rates, analytics being applied, notification rules, and other issues. As such, the user does not need to plan for server purchases to meet expected performance. The processing power is always available, with the ability to scale up as needed. You can customize your system’s performance, storage, and capabilities quickly and easily, rather than having to commit to buying expensive equipment, upgrading your data plan, or settle for generic notifications.
You may notice that with some systems, the performance can even have an impact on your video quality. With a cloud-based system, you are able to make sure that you get the best footage possible, and storage customized for your needs. Outdated security systems have a limit on their processing capacity, and storage solutions are restricted to what you can create on-site. Cloud-based systems offer performance that you can customize at any time to meet your needs.
Most companies experience growing pains at some point. Whether you need to expand to multiple locations, or you just need to adjust the amount of storage or number of cameras, scalability is a real problem when it comes to on-premises security systems. You may find that it is difficult to adjust storage, or nearly impossible to create long-term storage for some cameras, while keeping only a week of footage for others.
The cloud is infinitely scalable. At any time you can add or remove cameras, and adjust storage up or down on a per-camera basis. You may have some cameras in which regulatory, high-security, or liability requirements call for long storage times, while other cameras – usually the majority of cameras in a typical security installation – may only require a week or a month of storage. The cloud gives the user total control over how you want to scale on a per-camera basis, without the headaches of purchasing and maintaining separate servers to handle all of this.
Video in the cloud opens up a whole new world of analytics capabilities. Cloud-to-cloud integrations are available from hundreds of vendors, so you are able to find exactly what you need, rather than relying on a single vendor for video analytics. You can choose anything from highly specialized analytics, to more general analytics like people counting, directional line cross, object left behind, and more. By using a cloud-based system, you are able to choose to apply analytics either in the video management software or the individual IP cameras, and you can pick and choose from best of breed analytics on a per-camera basis.
This technology is virtually unheard of in on-premises security systems, yet is continually updated on cloud-based networks. Cloud-based surveillance allows your business to stay on the cutting edge of security by giving you access to resources and capabilities that are otherwise out of reach. With facial recognition technology, you may even be able to quickly filter through footage when you need to see what a particular person or employee is doing.
Are Cloud-Based Security Solutions Right for Your Business?
Surveillance and security never have a one-size-fits-all option, and despite the many upsides, cloud-based security solutions may not be the right fit for your business. You should consider the return on investment that a cloud-based option would offer, as opposed to a traditional model. While the vast majority of businesses benefit from cloud-based systems, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Budget and Cost
A hybrid, open-platform cloud-based security solution provides cost savings across the board. For starters, you can continue to use your existing IP cameras; there is no need for an expensive rip-and-replace with specialized cameras. Additionally, cloud-based security offers the flexibility of subscription-based billing, which falls right into the Op-ex budgets of other tools that run today’s businesses. As Cap-ex budgets are increasingly scrutinized and trimmed, this flexibility is becoming continuously more important. Subscription-based services provide elasticity, as cameras and doors can be added at any time, and cloud storage for video can be adjusted on a per-camera basis at any time.
As hybrid cloud video systems utilize an on-premises gateway, you are also able to utilize inexpensive local storage. The local storage provides resiliency to internet speed fluctuations or outages. Additionally, it provides an inexpensive route when very long term storage (one or more years) is required. If you have a limited budget for cloud video storage, but already have existing extra local storage capacity, you can choose to utilize that in conjunction with cloud storage to meet your needs on a budget.
If you don’t currently have a security camera system in place, it is often less expensive to set up cloud-based surveillance, rather than a secure on-premises system. By not having to purchase on-site storage solutions, and being able to customize your options to fit your needs, you won’t have to worry about paying for components you don’t need.
How to Choose a Cloud-Based Integrated Security Solution
Security of Data
When connecting to the cloud, security of data becomes paramount. There are inherent dangers in connecting each individual camera directly to the cloud. To begin with, each direct camera to cloud connection is a potential point of exposure. Each IP camera manufacturer has differing levels of cybersecurity capabilities. Maintaining up-to-date firmware levels in each camera for security purposes becomes a daunting task. With an on-premises gateway appliance, you can safely connect all of your IP cameras to one place.
From a cybersecurity standpoint, hybrid cloud systems utilize on-premises gateways which act as cybersecurity firewalls, enabling the customer to utilize the cameras of their choice without having to worry about each camera’s individual cybersecurity variations. This allows you to connect all of your cameras to one point, which then connects to the cloud. A hybrid setup creates only one point of vulnerability, instead of having to secure each individual camera.
Further, on-premises gateways enable easy integration with other on-premises equipment, such as access control systems, fire systems, intrusion systems, and intercom systems. This means that it is even easier to create an all-in-one system that is able to be accessed, viewed and controlled from wherever you are. You will also be able to customize the notifications you receive, so that you will be notified instantly when something happens, rather than when you are able to physically check your security system.
Lastly, cloud-based systems are encrypted end-to-end. All data at rest, and data in motion is encrypted, ensuring security of the network and the data. This means that your data cannot be intercepted while you are transferring it from your local network to the cloud. This may be even more secure than an outdated on-site system where each camera or transfer of information may be vulnerable to being intercepted.
Ease of Use
As more people have become accustomed to the many easy-to-use residential home automation and security devices and apps, they are increasingly expecting that their business security systems will be intuitive and easy to use as well. It can be overwhelming to make the leap from a local system you know well to a cloud-based system. With the newest systems being easier than ever to learn, understand and use, you don’t have to be intimidated by converting to the cloud.
Legacy on-premises-based video surveillance and access control systems continue to use old-style client-server architecture, with programs and user interfaces originally written years ago, sometimes decades ago. They no longer meet the expectations that users have of standardized browser-based, intuitive, and modern user interfaces that cloud security systems can provide. If you are installing a new security or surveillance system, it can be easier to understand and set up a cloud-based framework, rather than using outdated on-premises systems.
Customer Service and Support
From a COVID-19 perspective, hybrid video cloud systems enable remote management and maintenance of systems, thereby limiting in-person service calls. The response required in order to deal with Covid also created some concern for business owners about the potential for increased crime due to economic hardships. And many business owners found the desire to easily view their properties remotely, and with a consistent interface if they have multiple properties.
Customer service and support for cloud-based systems is typically available 24/7, unlike some on-premises based surveillance systems, which may have 9-5 hours for live customer service representatives or technical support.
Peace of Mind
Knowing that you can quickly and easily access your security camera footage and live feed remotely allows you to feel confident when you are not able to be on site. When switching to a cloud-based system, your security footage, live camera feed, as well as other documents, files, and emails can be viewed from anywhere in the world. You also no longer have to worry about local hard drives being damaged by vandalism, fires, floods, or other natural disasters; your files and footage will be backed up on the cloud. Understanding that you can check in at any time, and respond to security notifications from wherever you are gives you peace of mind when you are not able to be on site, especially for those people who have multiple properties or businesses.
As you can see, converting to cloud-based security and surveillance is becoming the standard for most businesses, and for good reason. With increased reliability, remote access, and the ability to customize nearly every aspect of your system while keeping costs down, cloud-based security and surveillance systems are going to continue to grow.