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How to decide if ACaaS is a good fit for you

How to decide if ACaaS is a good fit for you
We’ve established that cloud-based access control has various advantages over its on-prem counterpart. So who can benefit from it? How should the end user decide whether it’s a good fit for them? This note discusses those points.
We’ve established that cloud-based access control has various advantages over its on-prem counterpart. So who can benefit from it? How should the end user decide whether it’s a good fit for them? This note discusses those points.

ACaaS architecture

One of the main attractions of access control-as-a-service (ACaaS) is reduced capital expenditure. Indeed, in an ACaaS architecture, the user only purchases the basic, onsite door hardware and pays a subscription fee for the access control solution hosted in the cloud.
“The hardware at the door still needs to be installed – readers and electronic locks as examples. In addition, the control panels need to be onsite. The control panels will communicate with the solution software which is either being hosted in a private cloud or public cloud such as Azure or AWS. The user pays for the initial installation of equipment and then pays a subscription for the hosted software,” said Kim Loy, Chief Product Officer of ACRE, owner of Vanderbilt Industries. “In most models, the user’s subscription includes updates to the software as they are released. This eliminates the need for the user to maintain servers and operating systems.”
It’s also important to note that common features of access control, for example integration with video and opening doors by way of mobile credentials, can also be achieved by ACaaS.
“ACaaS and VSaaS are in the same family of edge devices managed from the cloud. There are a number of solutions in both categories and some even enable cloud-to-cloud integrations, but there are only a few that enables integration of video surveillance and access control utilizing one cloud and one database to insure the highest level of integration and fewer points of failure and fewer cybersecurity vulnerability points,” said Martin Renkis, VP of OpenBlue Security and Innovation at Johnson Controls.
“ACaaS enables seamless integration with other security systems by feeding all data into the cloud. This includes video surveillance, intrusion detection, as well as other third-party systems,” said Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options. “Mobile credentials can be fully supported with ACaaS no differently than they are with on-premises solutions. The beauty of cloud-based managed access control is if you are using the Internet, you are able to access your system from any smart device, anywhere.”

Who can benefit

As it’s hosted in the cloud, ACaaS can be particularly ideal for end user entities with limited IT staff/resources. “Any commercial organization that doesn’t have an IT department or dedicated security personnel will benefit from having a cloud-based or hosted solution. The greatest benefit of ACaaS is not having to maintain servers and clients or update the operating systems as they are released. This applies across a large number of vertical markets. ACaaS has been more readily adopted in the SMB space; however, some large enterprise customers are moving to this model as well to cut costs,” Loy said.
Indeed, enterprises and other end user entities with multiple locations can benefit from ACaaS’ ability to scale. “When it comes to security for a multi-site enterprise, one of the most important considerations is finding an access control system that can scale. Cloud-based enterprise security and ACaaS offers the scalability, flexibility and interoperability needed to secure many different locations at once,” said Lindsay McLain, Head of Marketing at Openpath.
“Any customer with an access control solution can find ACaaS beneficial based on the ease of use and simplicity of setup. In particular, organizations with multiple disparate sites will find great benefit in being able to monitor and operate their doors from anywhere in the world and of course they can be assured that all sites are always up to date with the latest software due to the automatic update capabilities gained with a cloud based system,” said Tom Buckley, Co-Founder of Qumulex.
Since ACaaS is ideal for entities with limited IT or with multiple locations, vertical markets that exhibit those traits can benefit. “Many markets can benefit from ACaaS because it is a solution that offers robust security while remaining cost-efficient. However, there are a few verticals, which stick out more than others. For example, any markets that have multiple locations or a limited IT team, such as restaurants, retail shops, rental companies, and construction sites, can benefit greatly from these solutions,” O’Leary said.

What to consider

Despite its advantages, ACaaS may not be the right solution for every organization. “ACaaS is a recurring service model and those customers who are not looking for recurring services, which may have a business model that requires a pure capex solution, may find on premise solutions more attractive,” Renkis said.
Therefore, deciding whether a cloud solution is a good fit for the user requires an assessment of the user’s own objectives, requirements and infrastructure. “When deciding if ACaaS is right for the organization, it's important to note the type of assistance that is necessary. Many SMBs require the level of flexibility that ACaaS offers because of expenses or the lack of an IT team. Ultimately, cloud-based access control is a rich-security service that allows smaller companies to have the same protection as large multi-location enterprises,” O’Leary said.
“For example, businesses with very specific compliance and/or security requirements will need to ensure a cloud-based provider meets those stipulations. Another consideration is that organizations will need to ensure all users follow best practices when it comes to accessing or restricting permissions and controls. Good communication with administrators is essential to maintaining the security of a cloud-based system," McLain said.
It’s also important to note that a main limitation of ACaaS comes with Internet availability. “You certainly need access to a reliable Internet connection to ensure the benefits of ACaaS are fully realized. Thankfully, reliable Internet is not hard to come by in most places these days, but a customer should consult with their security integrator to ensure that they have the proper connectivity. Often backup connectivity capability, such as 5G, is also deployed,” Buckley said. “ACaaS itself is not too demanding from a bandwidth perspective, but if you plan to pair the solution with video capability to the cloud, you should use your vendor’s calculations to assess if you have the proper amount of bandwidth to accommodate the video requirements.”

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