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Cloud solutions can be secure, simple and cost effective – so why aren’t more users taking advantage? Simply put, some common misconceptions have created skepticism about cloud solutions.

1.16.20 – SIW

Despite becoming more mainstream, many still believe popular misconceptions about the technology

Cloud-based solutions have grown exponentially in the past 10 years. From single-location businesses to large enterprises, companies are migrating to the cloud at an increasingly steady rate. According to the International Data Commission (IDC), worldwide spending in 2019 on public cloud services and infrastructure saw an increase of 23.8% in the last year. Although these numbers tell us that cloud is becoming mainstream, many security end users, dealers and integrators are still reticent to make the jump from traditional, on-premises solutions.

Cloud solutions can be secure, simple and cost effective – so why aren’t more users taking advantage? Simply put, some common misconceptions have created skepticism about cloud solutions. Here are a just a few of these myths:

Myth 1: The cloud is insecure

The greatest misconception surrounding cloud is that it’s inherently insecure. Cybersecurity is the top driver for every leading service provider and they are backing this priority with significant financial and technology investments designed to protect their customers as well as themselves. From end to end encryption and 24X7 cyber monitoring to two factor and bio authentication, the industry is moving fast to stay ahead of threats.

Compared to on premises systems protected by an individual company’s internal cybersecurity and data privacy efforts, a reputable cloud service provider would typically have significantly more resources and experience. Add 24/7 monitoring along with the extensive systems and staff to detect and respond to anomalies in real time, cloud service providers can know about a potential security threat long before local system operators would.

Other disruptive threats, such as theft or failure of NVRs, access control servers or controllers, can be completely eliminated with cloud-based solutions.

Myth 2: The cloud is complicated and proprietary

Cloud solutions are less complicated than on premises systems that typically require NVRs, application servers, and controllers. In turn, most cloud solutions have fewer components and are intentionally designed for simpler installation and easier maintenance. Typical challenges such as remote access are addressed with plug and play technologies that work within most networks.

Because cloud requires less hardware, it becomes simpler to scale a cloud solution as needs change. Thanks to its plug and play nature, whether you need one camera or 1,000 cameras, one door or 1,000 doors, setup and scale with cloud is simpler.

Cloud solutions are by nature simpler to maintain. Once devices are connected, users can be notified by alerts instantly when there are issues and perform remote diagnostics as well as troubleshooting on demand. Dashboards can deliver system wide device, user and network status with detailed reports, all from a single web browser interface. With 24/7 monitoring and maintenance by the cloud service provider, cyber-attacks can be thwarted in real-time, eliminating significant costs.

Although uncommon, some cloud service providers are delivering solutions that prevent customers from being “locked in” to proprietary technologies or a single vendor who may or may not be in business in the future. There are solutions today that can be repurposed to work with other systems and not only with a designated vendor.

Myth 3: The cloud is a bandwidth killer

Contrary to popular belief, many cloud-based security solutions operate without transporting “data heavy” video traffic to the cloud. Thanks to technological advancements, video data can be stored in the camera or gateway device and only transmit to the cloud on demand. Important data such as status and usage only require a small amount of bandwidth to provide powerful monitoring and maintenance features.

An alternative “hybrid mode” is an option for some cloud-based systems and combines on-device and cloud-based storage options. It is customizable to individual requirements. For example, hybrid mode can be programmed to send video to the cloud only if it detects a person or transfer events like bookmarked video every evening. These are powerful bandwidth saving tools available today.

More advanced cloud solutions include low bandwidth video “scrubbing,” providing users with the ability to rapidly search through video from a large number of cameras in one low bandwidth interface. Using features such as this significantly reduce bandwidth requirements as events of interest can be found quickly and high bandwidth HD video be transmitted only when requested.

Myth 4: Cloud means expensive

While eliminating hardware components like NVRs, access control application servers and controllers, as well as software components like VMS and access control management software, makes the cloud less complicated, it also makes it less expensive to purchase, install and maintain. In addition, the subscription-based model offers end users options on managing the costs of the solution over its lifetime. A cloud-based solution may reduce many other hardware, software, installation, maintenance, networking and cyber security expenses. It may also eliminate access control cards (when using mobile authentication) as there is no need to keep an inventory of cards on hand.

Cloud solutions are inherently designed to allow scaling – both up and down – which helps manage costs. Cloud cameras and access control readers can easily be added or removed on demand. With a cloud solution for example, a system can start with two cameras and doors then gradually add on as needs change or start with 100 cameras across 50 locations and gradually decrease. Ultimately, the cloud ensures you are only paying for what you use – which is not always possible with traditional systems.

The Future

Security professionals can find themselves overwhelmed and even intimidated by cloud. Without a solid understanding of a new technology, it can seem complicated and costly – even when it may not be.  Cloud has been proven to deliver more secure, simple and cost-effective physical security for many users. It may be worth the effort to ignore the myths and consider cloud today.

Martin Renkis is the General Manager, Cloud Solutions, Global Security Products, for Johnson Controls.