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Scalability comparison: cloud-based vs. on-premise access control systems

Scalability comparison: cloud-based vs. on-premise access control systems
Understanding the scalability advantages and limitations of any system can significantly impact long-term security and efficiency.
Businesses must constantly modify security methods to protect precious data and resources in today's dynamic tech ecosystem. Access control systems are crucial for managing access to sensitive assets, and organizations are frequently faced with the decision between cloud-based and on-premise solutions. This article compares the scalability of cloud-based versus on-premise access control systems in depth, assisting decision-makers in picking the best solution for their needs.
Scalability greatly impacts an organization's ability to grow and adapt to changing needs. Understanding the scalability advantages and limitations of any system can significantly impact long-term security and efficiency.
We will examine the infrastructure, maintenance, integration, and expenses that influence the scalability of cloud-based and on-premise access control systems. By evaluating these components, we hope to provide helpful insights to businesses looking for the best access control solution to support their growth and success.

The cloud-native solution makes a difference 

Before diving into the scalability comparison, it's essential to clarify the difference between cloud-native and non-cloud-native systems. The term "cloud-based" can sometimes be misleading, as it may refer to single-server systems hosted by a provider instead of being on-premise. In such cases, the scalability remains unchanged.
“The key distinction is whether the systems are Cloud Native or not,” said Andrew Scothern, Chief Architect at Gallagher Security. “Many current “cloud-based” systems are simply single server systems where a provider hosts an application which would otherwise be on-premise. In these cases, there is no difference in how large a system can be. Cloud Native SaaS applications, however, are designed for scale from the ground up. They can scale horizontally (across multiple machines) and as such can cope with much larger loads and offer better resilience.”

The design of the system

John Szczygiel, EVP and COO at Brivo, pointed out that the option to scale depends on the specific system. Most on-premise systems have a limit on the number of readers supported, which is usually a limitation of the software. With a cloud-based system, if it’s well-designed, you won’t have a capacity limit. It also allows a business to scale up or down if demand changes.
“The computing environment doesn’t dictate the size or complexity of an access control system,” Szczygiel said. “It’s more about the characteristics of the system software, licensing, and commercial sales practices. Cloud-based systems can infinitely scale on demand. On-premise can’t scale without an IT department sourcing new machines, installing new software, and configuring it. The turnaround time is much longer.”

Easily adapting to new security requirements

The flexibility to react to changing security requirements is another critical feature of scalability. When a company grows, its security requirements may vary, and access control solutions must be able to meet these new requirements. Cloud-based solutions are often nimbler in terms of adopting updates and alterations, whereas on-premise systems may necessitate more manual involvement and resources to react to new security problems.
Cloud-based access control systems may be swiftly updated with new features, bug updates, and security patches while causing minimal to no disturbance to the end user. On-premise systems, on the other hand, may necessitate costly upgrades, physical hardware replacements, or time-consuming manual updates to stay current with the newest security best practices. This can strain IT teams and lead to longer response times to emerging security threats, affecting the organization's overall security posture.

Integration with other systems is simple

Scalability also includes the capacity to effortlessly interface with other systems as a company grows and embraces new technology. Cloud-based access control solutions are often compatible with diverse software and hardware, making integration with other platforms such as video surveillance, identity management, and intrusion detection systems easier. Its adaptability allows for more efficient control and monitoring of security systems, saving time and resources.

On the other hand, on-premise solutions may encounter compatibility challenges or necessitate bespoke development for connection with other platforms. This can result in increased costs, longer implementation times, and the danger of using unsupported configurations. Cloud-based access control systems' ease of integration contributes to their overall scalability advantage, allowing enterprises to remain nimble and responsive to changing security needs.

Scaling operations are cost-effective

When businesses expand, examining the financial implications of extending access control systems is critical. Cloud-based solutions often use a subscription-based pricing model, allowing organizations to pay only for the required capabilities and capacity. This technique improves cost predictability and makes it easy to scale up or down based on changing needs without incurring high upfront costs.

On the other hand, scaling on-premise access control systems may necessitate major capital outlays, such as purchasing extra hardware, software licenses, and infrastructure modifications. Furthermore, as the system grows, the continuing maintenance and support expenses can escalate, putting a strain on IT budgets.

To be clear, cloud-based access control systems' cost-effectiveness when scaling operations contributes to their overall scalability advantage. This cost structure enables firms to deploy resources more efficiently, adjust to changing needs, and maintain a strong security posture without breaking the bank.


Finally, when comparing the scalability of cloud-based and on-premise access control systems, cloud-based solutions provide various benefits that make them more suitable for growing enterprises. These benefits include increased adaptability to changing security requirements, ease of interface with other systems, and cost-effectiveness for scaling operations. Businesses that use a cloud-based access control system may more effectively manage their security architecture, respond to new threats, and allocate resources, eventually enabling long-term growth and success.
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