Should you choose on-premises or cloud-based access control?

Should you choose on-premises or cloud-based access control?
A frequently asked question by access control users is whether to go for a cloud-based or on-premises system. There are pros and cons for each, and it all depends on the user’s own requirements.
 
For the longest time, users of access control have chosen the on-premises model, which provides a license that allows the user to run the software on their own computer. But more and more, users are considering the cloud architecture, whereby the software is run on a cloud server.
 
“The on-site license is a one-time license, but there can be optional support fees. The cloud management service is a subscription that you pay for each month, or yearly. This is a continuous cost that covers usage and upgrades,” said a recent blogpost by Kintronics.
 
In fact, access control as a service (ACCaS) is a growing segment, with MarketsandMarkets forecasting the market to reach US$1.7 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 26.8 percent.
 

Pros and cons

 
However, there are pros and cons to both architectures. “It depends on your requirements. If you would like to be able to manage your door access from anywhere including a mobile app, then the cloud solution is a good choice,” the post said.
 
Besides those, the benefits of a cloud solution are listed by Kintronics in a separate blogpost:
 
  • Cost reduction for software services: Capital expense is reduced because a local computer server is not required, and the software is considered a monthly expense rather than a capital purchase;
  • Maintenance and support of cloud computer systems is much easier to handle since there’s no need to install anything on any of the local computers. “Your information is backed up at the center. This provides secure data retention that can be used in case of any disaster,” the post pointed out.
  • Software upgrades are handled by the cloud service rather than the end user’s own staff.
  • Security: Managed services include increased security.
 
Yet there are also drawbacks to the cloud. They include:
 
  • Loss of local Internet connectivity: If the Internet is down, then so is the application;
  • Cloud service failure: There are some cases where remote servers become unavailable;
  • Ongoing subscription cost: There is a monthly or yearly charge for the application;
 
According to Kintronics, an on-premises door access management solution is better if the end user is concerned about sending their personal information off-site. Other benefits of on-premises solutions include:
 
  • Internet security: An on-premises license can be isolated from the Internet.  Some government and other organizations require this level of security;
  • Less expensive over time: The standard license is less expensive in the long run. “Unfortunately, it may take over three years to achieve a cost benefit. At that point you may have to purchase the next generation software,” the post said. “There is usually a software upgrade plan that provides software updates that should be added to your total cost calculation.”
  • Availability: Software that runs on the end user’s own computer network is independent of the Internet; it is available even if the local Internet connection is down.
 
The disadvantages include:
  • Higher initial expense: On-site licenses can cost up to three to five times the monthly cost of cloud service, and it can take over three years to break even;
  • Multi-site organizations could require more than one site license;
  • Maintenance and support: There is usually some software upgrade plan for maintaining the software; as operating systems and networks evolve, it is important to update the software to be compatible;
  • Security is a challenge: This depends on the level of security the end user can provide on-site.


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