Understanding how cloud access control systems can lead to new business opportunities
The business model for today’s access control channel partners is continually evolving to accommodate technology advancements and to meet changes in the ways customers buy and use the technology. Integrators are finding success selling and delivering more complex solutions that have the potential to position them as a trusted partner.
Many access control providers have already transitioned their businesses from product sales to offering service contracts which provide a basis for value-added opportunities and subsequent recurring revenue streams. They’ve learned to speak the language of today’s business by focusing more on process and outcome and less on technical specs. The value proposition becomes even more attractive for the integrator when the subject of access control as a service (ACaaS) is introduced. These services present significant opportunities for integrators looking to grow their business with high-value service offerings that target access control challenges.
Potential applications for ACaaS are seemingly unlimited given the ease with which cloud-based access control systems can scale, making them appropriate for practically any size customer and application. The flexibility and scalability of these systems allow users to specify the level of control they need now and easily add doors later as needed, ensuring that the system can keep pace with an enterprise’s growth as well.
Fortunately, adding cloud-based services to the integrator’s portfolio does not require a monumental shift in offerings. Beyond the conventional on-site user-managed system, the addition of a user-managed cloud-based system and a remote managed cloud-based system will cover most applications and requirements.
On-site user-managed system
In this scenario, the customer purchases (or leases) the equipment from an authorized reseller/ integrator who installs the system and provides training. A service/ maintenance contract may be included in the sale/ lease. The customer is responsible for all programming activity on the dedicated PC including entering/ deleting/ modifying names, scheduling, reports, backup and software updates. Depending on the system, badging may also be included. Other than the install and training and any service/ maintenance agreement, the reseller/ integrator has no additional responsibility.
Cloud-based user-managed system
Similar to the on-site user-managed scenario, the equipment is purchased or leased from an authorized re-seller/ integrator who installs the hardware and provides training. The difference between this application and the previous one is that the software is in the cloud, and is managed, along with the supporting infrastructure, by the integrator or service provider. All backup, software upgrades, system monitoring, programming, scheduled door locking and unlocking and other vital access control actions are performed remotely by professional monitoring providers on a 24/7 basis. The user often only manages the simple day-to-day functions of entering/ deleting/ modifying names, and sometimes badging, through a web portal.
These types of systems work well for sites with little or no IT staff such as franchise locations or property management sites. Each location can handle the day to day functions of entering/ deleting/ modifying names and scheduling via a web portal but reports, applying patches and updates, backup and other group functions are handled in the cloud by the integrator. A definite advantage of this scenario is that the browser application can be accessed at any time and from any device by the user.
Cloud-based remote-managed system
The user has little or no access to the head-end software in this scenario and all activity is performed by the service provider. This service is popular with enterprise level organizations. Hardware can be new from the integrator or existing, owned or leased. When modifications are required, the service provider is notified to make the changes and reports can be run and sent to the end user on a scheduled or as-requested basis. Credentialing (badging) is also handled by the service provider.
A single service provider may host access control systems for numerous organizations in the cloud; in these situations, the security of the data is ensured with AES encryption. Multi-layered filtering/ partitioning allows the end user to access only their information (cardholders, access groups, hardware etc) while the service provider can have full access to all customers.
To deliver a strong, effective and efficient cloud-based access control solution, integrators should partner with best-in-class providers who offer the solutions and services that make up a robust, fully-functional system. Open platforms that enable seamless integration between door hardware, access readers, software and other system components allow dealers and integrators to utilize best-in-breed solutions from providers who specialize and excel in their specific areas, and who can focus on what they do best rather than trying to provide the full end-to-end solution themselves. Best of all, by working with trusted partners to deploy, administer and maintain systems, end users can devote their time and energy to their core business and operations.
Robert Laughlin – President,