As the security industry continues to rapidly change, more and more organizations returning to physical work locations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are interested in upgrading their security infrastructure. A frequently discussed topic amongst those reopening has become how to upgrade security systems properly. Many schools that are looking to in-person learning in the fall are deciding whether to select cloud-based, off-prem solutions or on-premises infrastructure and while there can undoubtedly be pros and cons for each, it ultimately depends on the end user's needs.

Below we will discuss the benefits for both on and off-premises security systems, as well as tips for picking the best option for your specific situation.

Changes in access control

Access control has seen many changes over the years, and what once used to be a complicated and time-consuming system has now been simplified for ease of management. Manufacturers giving new access control systems an open-platform architecture makes the system much easier to manage and capable of having seamless integration with other security systems. Specific cloud-based access control systems now offer even more options to further simplify security deployments, with remote management and ease of scalability.

With so many benefits to both on-premises and off-premises solutions, it can be challenging to conclude which is best for your specific educational facility.

Off-premises and cloud-based access control

Cloud-based, off-premises solutions are still relatively new to the market. However, as the rising demand for the cloud, mobile access control, managed access, and more trends continue to increase in popularity, we will see these initiatives take root as convenient and scalable options for many educational organizations in the coming years.

A few benefits of cloud-based architecture include less maintenance, automatic software upgrades, and increased security. Data is captured and stored on a cloud server rather than a local server. This approach leverages a SaaS-based model and is no longer considered a capital purchase; instead, it is an operating expense, which is more approachable for budget-conscious schools. Maintenance becomes much easier because there is no need for ongoing hardware fixes since the data is backed up in the cloud within the software platform.

Schools that do not have a dedicated security team have much to gain by utilizing an off-premises or cloud-based access control system because the system can be managed and configured remotely. For example, the opening and closing of doors and granting access to staff or students can all be configured remotely with an off-premises solution.

Cloud-based systems provide streamlined updates and can place schools at an advantage when it comes to data security. It's easier for providers to issue automatic updates in real-time, once again making it an incredibly beneficial choice for schools that do not have dedicated security staff. Overall, choosing a reputable cloud-based solution ensures ease of use and the benefits of remote management. Additionally, integrators and dealers can ensure that the software is fully up-to-date, which further addresses the customer's needs.

On-premises access control

Educational facilities that select on-premises solutions typically do so when they want complete control over every aspect of their investments. All hardware and software are installed locally, meaning the facility can fully customize the system to fit their needs.

On-premises solutions typically serve as a better option for end-users considered mission-critical, those with larger budgets or those under regulatory requirements to keep data on-site. Traditional server-based access control systems often have security that can be isolated from the Internet, and specific essential organizations may require this level of protection. This also means the software can run on the local network, independent of the Internet, so the system won't go down even if the Internet does.

In total, on-prem solutions allow for full system control and customization and local data storage. While several licenses might be required to run the access control solution across all locations, an on-premises solution can be less expensive over time if appropriately managed, as the software upgrades provided to you are typically added to your total cost.

Meeting in the middle

Perhaps you've learned about both off-premises and on-premises access control and are not entirely sold on either. Luckily, there are some solutions that meet in the middle and offer the flexibility and scalability that the cloud provides as well as an easily managed security system that still remains on-premises.

Some providers offer open-platform solutions that remain on-premises but are cloud-hosted. This means that end-users can still access the system remotely through their web browser, whether on a computer or smartphone and the system also allows for flexible integration with third-party systems like video surveillance while maintaining local control of the premises. For those concerned about learning how to monitor and operate their system, search for providers that offer robust training certifications and ongoing support to ensure optimal use and satisfaction.

The decision is ultimately up to the end-user and what's best for their facility. There are plenty of access control options available for educational institutions. If your facility is interested in minimal maintenance, does not have a dedicated security team, and is interested in storing its data in a cloud server, selecting a purely off-premises solution might be the best course of action.

For those who prefer traditional access control solutions and would rather not have to rely on the Internet or are uneasy about sending off data to another location, conventional on-prem access control might be the best choice. Finally, for those looking for a robust combination of the two, search for a provider who has an open-platform solution that seamlessly integrates with other security systems, remains an on-premises system, but offers "off-premises benefits" such as web-browser access, flexibility and scalability.