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ACaaS: Benefits abound for users, integrators alike

ACaaS: Benefits abound for users, integrators alike
Access control as a service, in which a cloud service provider manages an end user’s access control needs, has become a major trend. This is mostly because of the various benefits associated with it – for example enabling the user to lower or eliminate initial investment in access control-related devices and architecture.
Access control as a service or ACaaS, in which a cloud service provider manages an end user’s access control needs, has become a major trend. This is mostly because of the various benefits associated with it – for example enabling the user to lower or eliminate initial investment in access control-related devices and architecture. Meanwhile, users have also grown to trust service providers who are more knowledgeable of network security issues.
Access control as a service has been around for a while. But it wasn’t until recently that people have realized the various benefits of ACaaS and begun to adopt it at a more rapid pace. According to a recent research report by MarketsandMarkets, the ACaaS market is expected to reach a value of US$1.7 billion by 2022, translating into a compound annual growth rate of 26.82 percent between 2016 and 2022.
“Migration of access control to the cloud is becoming a mainstream trend. We can see a lot of movement in that direction,” said Andrija Pušić, Director of Product Management at Spica, which offers ACaaS through the Door Cloud brand.
“We started doing this in 2002, and we’ve been doing it for over 15 years now. For the first eight to nine years this industry was a little bit slow. I would say in the past five years people have finally become comfortable in ACaaS and are more willing to move forward with this new model,” said Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo.
This increase in willingness certainly has to do with ACaaS benefits, which abound for users and integrators alike. For users, their biggest objective is to lower cost and focus on revenue-generating processes in the midst of competition, and ACaaS can help in that regard. “Access control as a service continues to grow in popularity, particularly in smaller commercial projects, as it removes the capital-intensive setup costs of a traditional system. This allows the end user to transfer security management to a maintenance cost rather than an investment with no financial payoff. The capital saved can then be put to use on other revenue generating opportunities,” said Jim Dearing, Senior Market Analyst at IHS Markit. “Having the security system managed by an outside entity also relieves the responsibility from the company’s own employees. This means that their time is also freed up for other revenue generating tasks. This also removes the possible vulnerabilities and inefficiencies caused by the staff member being on vacation or off work through illness.”
For integrators, they also stand to benefit from ACaaS, which moves away from the one-off payment model for traditional installations. “Another reason the integrators have moved forward with this is that this is an industry that's dominated by products that bring recurring monthly revenue. That's why integrators have chosen to start selling more if it,” Van Till said. Currently, the market rate for managing access control is US$15 per door per month; a typical small business with four to six doors represents a good deal for integrators.
“In the past integrator and installer awareness of this type of solution was a barrier to wider adoption. However, with the access control industries march toward greater use of more IT-centric devices during the past five years, these integrators are now much more knowledgeable of the benefits of selling this solution to end users,” said Dearing.

Network security

For quite some time, cybersecurity constituted a main concern for those seeking to migrate to ACaaS. “Cybersecurity concerns continue to hinder adoption of ACaaS solutions, especially in larger enterprise projects where the threat of (and damage caused by) a successful hack are much greater,” said Dearing. “Moving management of security offsite creates additional security vulnerabilities: for example the method of communication used between sites and the data/monitoring center.”

Yet thanks to advances in technology and best practices followed by vendors and users, cybersecurity has become less of an issue in ACaaS. “As with any software that lives in ‘the cloud,’ off-premise data management and cybersecurity are major concerns,” said Mitchell Kane, President of Vanderbilt Industries. “Over the years, as manufacturers and end users have become more accustomed to working in that space, network and cybersecurity have taken center stage and protections have been bolstered as a result, making it safer for businesses to deploy more cloud-based applications.”
And according to Van Till, migrating to ACaaS can actually make access control more secure, given the fact service providers are generally more knowledgeable of network security than an end user entity’s own staff. “I would say that the opinion from the IT community or the CIO community has gone 180 degrees on that. Security departments and individual small business owners are following that trend of saying these cloud providers are spending 24 hours a day keeping my assets secure. They have dozens of software and network experts who do nothing but try to keep this thing safe. Whereas the amount of care bestowed on a typical client-server installation inside an end user organization is close to zero, particularly small businesses who don't have anybody on staff to take care of this,” he said.

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