Don’t be Alarmed About Access Control: A Breakdown of the Difference Between Cloud-Based and On-Premise Options

With the access control market expected to grow from $8.6 billion to $13.1 billion by 2026, choosing between an on-premise access control or a cloud-based access control can feel like a gigantic task. That’s why we put together this breakdown between the two options so you can discover how they’re defined and determine which one is right for your assets. To begin, let’s understand exactly what on-premise and cloud-based access controls are.

What is on-premise access control?

On-premise access control refers to a physical access control system that is installed and maintained locally on the premises of an asset. Legacy access control systems are typically on-premise and rely on servers and computers located within the building to be controlled by software in order to operate.

What is a cloud-based access control?

Cloud-based access control can be explained as entry to a building or doors being granted or removed remotely through a cloud-based software system that is accessible via any internet-connected device. Cloud software is defined as a network of remote servers hosted on the internet rather than on local servers or computers.

Characteristics of on-premise access control

  • Dependable: On-premise systems are less likely to experience downtime because they do not depend on an internet connection or third-party power to function, which can lead to higher performance and reliability. However, an on-premise solution might be more vulnerable to a hardware failure or a power outage.
  • Ownership of environment: Some users may need to own and control their IT infrastructure. For example, some organizations must abide by government regulations, such as being isolated from the internet. These companies prefer to custom-tailor their own on-premise security system based on those regulation demands.
  • Greater up-front expenses: There can generally be a larger upfront cost for on-premise systems given the hardware, personnel, software licenses and infrastructure needed. Once those systems are in place correctly, continuous costs such as third-party system updates and additional storage may be required.
  • More staffing: Having an on-premise access control system means you will need IT staff to operate and maintain it. These personnel will need to be on-site to access and maintain their system and users, as there is no cloud-based control. This can affect your NOI and should be taken into consideration for long-term costs.

Characteristics of cloud-based access control

  • Lower up-front costs: Rather than paying an upfront lump-sum for IT infrastructure, cloud-based access control systems typically offer subscription pricing. This gives more flexibility on budget based on your changing needs. Since users can store, manage and process data in an off-site data center rather than on-site infrastructure, they’re typically able to save money by not needing their own servers or IT personnel.
  • Scalable: Cloud-based solutions offer the ability to easily scale integrations into many different types of cloud-based applications and physical systems, such as card readers, smart building platforms or elevator management systems. By connecting a building systems, resources and people, owners and operators can access unified data on contextual information, such as space utilization, tenant engagement, real-time occupancy information, and much more. These capabilities exist within a single building to across an entire portfolio.
  • High accessibility: Since these systems are hosted on a remote third-party server, the admin users can access and manage the system and data through any device connected to the internet, including mobile phones. This can allow for instant adjustments to users’ roles and permissions from anywhere at any time.
  • Reliable: You don’t need to maintain the ecosystem for the technology to function – it is outsourced to the access control partners. Updates and upgrade can automatically happen without using your valuable resources. Due to the cloud-based service, internet outages could result in interruptions to some functionality.

Ultimately, the decision between an on-premise access control system versus a cloud-based access control system depends on the budget, needs, priorities and requirements of the buyer. This may include security requirements, familiarity with cloud hosted services, budget, technology roadmap, current building systems and much more. If your top priority is having full system control and customization, storing data locally and connecting an on-premise system to local backup power may be the best fit to ensure maximum uptime. If you’re in search of a more flexible option that can integrate with other building systems or be managed remotely, then cloud-based access control could be your best solution.

At Cohesion, we know access control can be confusing and have the expertise to assess your building, analyze your goals and find the best solution for your needs. Our complete smart building technology can optimize your access control for either on-premise or cloud-based systems.

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