We trust the cloud with our most important virtual assets. At work, the cloud takes care of sensitive documents and financial records; at home we use it to back up precious memories and stream our entertainment. When it comes to physical security, however, there’s been a reluctance to embrace the value that cloud offers. The physical security industry then seems to be one of the last commercial sectors to retain a lack of faith in cloud services.
But the time is right for integrators and installers from the physical security worlds of access control and IP network cameras (CCTV) to help their customers understand the benefits of cloud adoption, and migrate them to Security as a Service (SaaS) platforms that can offer peace of mind, reduced costs, compliance and valuable business insights beyond the basic functions that their current local devices can offer.
The cloud is computing
Business loves the cloud, and business trusts the cloud. There’s now widespread awareness that as the threat of cyberattack increases, and regulators take a dimmer view of lax IT oversight, cloud-based solutions can offer better security and compliance without the upfront cost. It is also far less complicated than trying to provision equivalent services within an organisation’s own datacentre.
Cloud providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft, have invested huge sums to ensure that information in the cloud can be protected at least as well as on-site servers. When breaches do happen, it’s inevitably as a result of security weaknesses in configuration or human error rather than issues with the platform. Back-up and continuity services are easy to provision from the cloud too: if someone breaks into your office or there’s physical damage to your datacentre, we understand that the cloud keeps our digital records safe and away from the threat of intruders.
If there’s a safe bet in IT today, it’s that cloud will continue to grow its share of overall spending, potentially without limit. Just look at the latest figures from Gartner: it’s still predicting greater than 20 per cent growth in spend on public cloud services for the next few years, and suggests that by 2021 45 per cent of all application spending will be on Software as a Service (SaaS) products.
Our own research shows that 89 per cent of firms in the UK, France and Germany are using at least one cloud-based software solution today. Contrary to popular belief that SMEs are the fastest adopters of cloud, those most likely to say yes came from larger firms.
Yet at the same time, there’s still a certain conservatism that can be seen in patterns of cloud adoption. The biggest names in the industry have done well to prove their security credentials, and IT decision makers are happy to spend on cloud-based email, CRM, ERP, HR and financial tools. Most critical business processes are being moved to the cloud, where companies can benefit from reduced capital and licensing costs, better software support and the ability to integrate services and apply analytics platforms for actionable business insights.
Physical security in the cloud
There is, however, an apparent reluctance to migrate other essential services – such as physical security – and reap the cost savings and business intelligence benefits that the cloud brings. In our survey, 72 per cent of those who said they used cloud-based solutions were using them for email, 54 per cent had moved CRM to the cloud and between 44-50 per cent were subscribing to e-commerce, finance, HR and payroll or ERP platforms.
Conversely only 6 per cent said that they used cloud providers for anything else. What this suggests is that there’s now a massive opportunity for integrators and installers to start migrating other essential services to the cloud – customers are familiar with and comfortable with the cloud, they just need a reason to expand its use.
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS), for example, can provide all the same benefits of other software platforms, and then some. Not only can it be provisioned with robust cybersecurity, but cloud platforms make it easier to authenticate and update endpoint devices with new, authenticated firmware.
There are other, practical, benefits that help to make VSaaS more fit for purpose than legacy systems. When video surveillance footage is stored in the cloud, it’s harder to tamper with in the event of an incident. Machine learning can also help to distinguish between different forms of behaviour at an ATM – telling the difference between someone fumbling for a card and someone scoping a premise ahead of a robbery.
Just as importantly, cloud-based platforms can provide business intelligence that reduces costs while improving physical security – image data can be used to help with stock maintenance, for example, or to trigger alerts when queues begin to build up in retail stores.
And as regulators tighten up over the use and storage of personally identifiable information (PII) under new laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), cloud-based VSaaS can actually help with compliance too. Not only can service providers guarantee GDPR compliance around security, they should always be up-to-date with requirements around anonymisation of image data too.
So what’s holding back the mass migration to cloud-based physical security?
Challenging the scepticism
In the world of video surveillance and other forms of physical security, customers are rightly wary of the cloud. There have been many incidences of badly designed, poorly configured and unsupported products which claim to offer low-cost security solutions, but have proved to be vulnerable to trivial attack. Compromised video cameras and recorders are one of the primary platforms from which criminals launch Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, using malwares such as the well-publicised Mirai and its variants.
Businesses have either been burnt, or perceived VSaaS as an unproven technology. Within the wider world of cloud adoption, cybersecurity is the number one concern and metric that suppliers must address before a client will invest. In a world where customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance and public reputation largely hinge on whether or not you can protect customers adequately, there’s a widespread awareness of risk.
But this is a winnable argument for security installers willing to get ahead of the curve. There are platforms which demonstrably answer all of customers’ fears, so long as we’re willing to engage with them on the issues. And now is the time to do that. In a few years, VSaaS will be just as common as other software-as-a-service platforms, and those physical security providers who aren’t already examining their sales model will miss out.
Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO, Morphean
Image Credit: Shutterstock/xtock