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December 19, 2023

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The cloud tipping point has arrived; Observations from the state of physical security 2024

Are organisations adapting quickly enough to digital transformation? Paul Dodds, Country Manager of UK & Ireland at Genetec discusses the outlook for physical security in 2024.

Genetec’s Paul Dodds

Each year we seek to take the temperature of the physical security industry, asking end users, channel partners, installers, manufacturers, systems integrators and consultants to participate.

We’re now on to our fourth edition of our State of Physical Security report, which this year I’m proud to say is based on insights from over 5,500 industry professionals worldwide.

Reviewing this year’s findings, I’m particularly struck by what it tells us about the pace of adoption of cloud technology for physical security systems and applications. While different regions are moving at different paces, the direction of travel is clear. And hybrid architectures that blend some combination of on-premises and cloud-based solutions appears to be the destination of choice for most organisations.

Cloud connectivity is gradual but accelerating

In the words of Digital Transformation expert George Westermen, “Technology changes quickly, but organisations change much more slowly.” That’s a very accurate summary of what we’ve witnessed up to this point.

For many good reasons the physical security function has come to be considered as one of the later adopters of digital transformation inside organisations that have readily embraced the cloud.

However, by and large, those factors that prompted caution no longer apply.

For example, part of the reticence was purely pragmatic. Many other departments had a simpler task of implementing a cloud-first approach. Plus, nobody wanted to make the literal safety of its people and facilities a guinea pig in their company’s first foray into the cloud.

Part of it was financial. For example, the bandwidth-intensive requirements of video surveillance systems delayed the point where the cost to benefit ratio began to make sense. We’re well past that point now.

For the majority the only remaining barrier is cultural, though even there we’re seeing signs of change. In previous editions of our industry survey, cybersecurity risks were routinely ranked as a top deterrent for moving to the cloud. That has disappeared in this year’s edition indicating greater knowledge and comfort in deploying cloud technology in ways that can enhance cyber resilience in ways that could not be technically or cost-effectively achieved in-house.

Say hello to hybrid

Cloud-AccessControl-ZoonarGmbH-AlamyStock-23.

Image credit: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy

Within Genetec we’ve been preparing and advocating for the greater adoption of cloud solutions in physical security for some time. Our first cloud-based solution was introduced ten years ago and has evolved to comprise an entire portfolio of solutions for the enterprise market.

In that time, we’ve seen a steady but gradual adoption of the cloud for physical security that is now accelerating. In fact, according to the data from our State of Physical Security 2024 report, this is the year when the industry can be considered to have reached the tipping point.

Last year’s edition found that 58% of physical security systems were housed entirely on-premises with just 42% of comprising hybrid or pure cloud deployments. This year, just 33% are reported to be entirely on premises with the other two thirds leveraging cloud or hybrid cloud.

Just as interesting as the pace of cloud adoption is the exact forms and purposes in which cloud solutions are being adopted. The exact optimal set-up will of course vary for every organisation, application, and individual site. However, hybrid-cloud deployments are quickly emerging as preference of most organisations as they seek to rationalise the costs, concerns, benefits and approaches to migrating to the cloud.

Last year, slightly less than one in four end users stated at least a quarter of their physical security environment is cloud or hybrid cloud. This year that figure has substantially risen to 44%. Equally, hybrid-cloud is now the model for the majority of companies of all sizes, accounting for 54% of those with 1-200 employees, rising to 64% in organisations of 201-10,000+ employees and 67% of those with 10,000+ employees.

Final thoughts

In summary, the pace of modernisation is accelerating and the physical security function is catching up with other industries and departments in its adoption of the cloud. Ensuring organisations evolve to fully take advantage of these new opportunities will require strong leadership and effective management. Selecting the right technology for the organisation is vital, as are the related decisions about people and process that will ensure it is put to good use.

Keep up with the access control market

The physical access control market is moving fast. Find out where you stand with the latest edition of IFSEC Insider's comprehensive 2022 State of Physical Access Control trend report, covering all the latest developments within the market. We assess the current technology in use, upgrade plans and challenges, and major trends on the horizon after receiving the views of over 1000 security, facilities and IT professionals.

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