The awareness of managed security services is rapidly increasing, due to recent media coverage, industry conferences and various online education efforts. The managed-services business model offers traditionally project-focused systems integrators a great opportunity to generate a more consistent and reliable cash flow. Those qualities are particularly important during these more economically challenging times, and are easily understood and appealing to financial institutions and prospective buyers alike.
While numerous varieties of managed security services are emerging, this article focuses specifically on managed access control, which itself offers several permutations. Although certain forms of managed access have been around considerably longer than more high-profile managed security technologies and services such as virtual guarding and hosted video (for more on this, click here), adoption has remained somewhat limited. However, technology advances and end-user interest is bringing managed access control more into the mainstream of general security operations.
It’s primetime for integrators to get into delivering managed access control services. Ahead you will learn about the different kinds of managed access, what constitutes a compelling return on investment proposition and who’s out there to help ensure your success. Plus, two integrators share their positive experiences.
6 Flavors of Managed Access
Let’s start by identifying and defining the different forms of managed access control. They are:
- Access Control software hosted in a third-party datacenter
- Web-portal access for database management
- Professional third-party database management
- Professional third-party reporting
- Professional third-party monitoring
- Professional third-party ingress management (a.k.a. virtual doorman)
In most cases of managed access sales, Nos. 1 and 2 above are the elements of the solution, while Nos. 3 and 4 are the most common add-ons. Nos. 5 and 6 are features that are available, but in many cases systems integrators that handle Nos. 1 through 4 for their customers are not equipped with a 24/7/365 monitoring center staffed with professionals trained to handle alarms generated by the access control system. Nor do they have the necessary training and processes in place for remotely handling requests to gain access through a gate or doorway.
While Nos. 5 and 6 are not as common in managed access proposals, they certainly should be. In many cases, end users invest in a substantial access control solution that turns into a simple electronic locking system as the database becomes out-of-date, people are hired, transferred, leave or are given new titles, the identification codes get damaged or removed, etc. In this fashion, the value of the access control system decreases substantially. When a delivery driver chooses to prop the door open to make his job easier, the security policy is not being followed. When nobody monitors this type of activity and the alarms generated by it, the perspective of employees, visitors and passersby is that there is no real security in place.
As hard as integrators work to develop the very best solutions for their customers, both technically and operationally, it may all be in vain if the proper protocols and procedures are not followed. Incorporating all of the features listed above will be the most effective means to properly secure access points for the end user. Managed access control should not be just hosted or operated, but truly managed.
5 Factors Determine the ROI
Aside from the feature sets and benefits, there are several factors in formulating a return on investment (ROI) for a truly managed access control system. They are:
- No server onsite — less dedicated rack space, bandwidth and IT overhead, reduced acquisition costs and risk of database tampering, no manual upgrades/updates, and continuous uptime monitoring
- Web portal — easy and convenient way for end users to review access-related data and information, and database management from any Web-enabled computer or mobile device
- Professional management — guaranteed response time, no need for trained staff, peace of mind that updates are made correctly and less time spent handling the system
- Professional monitoring — security policy enforcement, heightened situational awareness and effective response
- Virtual doorman — reduction of resources allocated to handle visitor entry and other processes of ingress
Integrators Tell Success Stories
It is clear to see how a managed access control solution can benefit end users, but what about the integrator? If these services offered no real value proposition to an end user, it wouldn’t matter how great it is for the integrator because nobody would pay for it. However, it is apparent customers are willing to invest in these resources, especially when they can realize a payback within a year or so of their initial investment.