Terry Sallas

MD, Reliance High Tech

September 7, 2017

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How to put your physical security systems into the cloud

We’re in the midst of a revolution in the physical security world.

The cloud era has the potential to change every aspect of physical security, offering alternative ways of doing things, opportunities to realise greater long-term value from legacy systems, and capabilities that have simply never existed before.

Working together, smart devices and IP networks can realise remarkable benefits in diverse areas, including cost, installation, efficiency, integration, business automation, monitoring, situational awareness and ease of use. Software is always up to date without the need for on-site work and systems can be quickly and easily adapted to user requirements.

One of the perhaps unexpected effects of cloud is that, for many organisations, and particularly those operating or moving towards ‘smart’ environments, security systems are shifting from being ‘grudge purchases’ – made only when they absolutely must be – to desirable investments that can secure specific, tangible, measurable business benefits.

The security sector has been slow to adopt cloud technology, in part because of natural, but now somewhat out of date concerns over putting security services ‘out there’ rather than keeping them ‘safely’ in-house

The extent of this shift and the speed with which it can take effect, though, are dependent on how effectively security providers address the challenges arising for organisations wishing to take advantage of the new capabilities and benefits offered by cloud. This is particularly the case when a move away from a traditional systems approach is being considered.

Choose the right provider

Many longstanding security providers simply lack the necessary skills and knowledge to address the complexities inherent in the integration of diverse systems, particularly over IP networks.

Conversely, new entrants to the market from the world of IP networks, while bringing networking expertise, often lack understanding of security systems. Furthermore, they often do not fully understand, or sometimes even perceive, the complex legal and technical issues that can arise.

It is beyond question, though, that in the world of physical security, the cloud is here to stay, just as it is in the consumer world of smart watches, fitness trackers and satnavs. Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that in 2017 we would see 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ – an increase of over 30% on 2016.

It would be foolish indeed to ignore such growth and the immense benefits that the technologies driving it can deliver as they connect previously disparate devices and data sources.

Nevertheless, the security sector has been slow to adopt cloud technology, in part because of natural, but now somewhat out of date concerns over putting security services ‘out there’ rather than keeping them ‘safely’ in-house.

At Reliance High-Tech, where we’ve been innovating in the security arena for more than 40 years, we can see the parallels between this technology shift and previous trends, including the ongoing migration to IP solutions (which was much slower than many expected).

Cloud integration essentials

Appropriate expertise and experience are essential when it comes to cloud integration. Decisions must be made as to which facilities, services and infrastructure to move to the cloud right away, which to move later, and which should stay on-premises for the foreseeable future.

There will be pros and cons for each device and service, which need to be fully understood to make the right decisions. Often a hybrid or staged approach is the right choice – for example, embracing secure hosted services now with a view to full cloud migration as part of a longer-term plan.

When planning the implementation of new and migrated systems, a seamless transition is usually essential. Risks must be fully understood and mitigated, and users and others brought up to speed rapidly, and then supported effectively on the new facilities.

Such issues mean you need a security partner that can provide expert counsel on both technical and commercial matters from the very start of the engagement.

Exploring the idea

Often, the first major challenge with any new technology comes at the exploratory stage, before any actual migration is even planned.

Exploring potential risks and benefits, and convincing key players within the organisation that a move towards cloud should be made, can be challenging indeed without specialist knowledge in a variety of arenas, including IP networking, cloud infrastructure, applications and services, legacy systems integration and, of course, the cloud-based solutions available.

A capable, experienced security systems integrator (like Reliance High-Tech) will work closely with you to fully understand the detail of your existing infrastructure, and your aims and objectives, as well as budgetary, technical and other constraints.

Working from that basis they can then advise on strategic options and help you communicate the benefits to interested parties across your organisation.

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