Getting Serious About Security as a Service

Offering security as a service (SaaS) – such as managed access control – is an appealing and viable way for installing/monitoring providers to grow RMR. Yet many have yet to get onboard while others wrestle with how to effectively market, sell and manage it.

Many companies and institutions today are comfortable outsourcing a range of “noncore” services. Outsourcing various functions is especially attractive in today’s lean environment in which corporations look to minimize head count and overhead costs. From E-mail to IT services to call centers and human resources, there is a higher comfort level than ever before with the idea of outsourcing. Why shouldn’t electronic access control follow this trend?

Managed access control could be a useful service for many customers today. In managed access control systems, the solution may be as simple as the integrator hosting the server associated with the access control system. However, the integrator can often go beyond its typical role of installing (and often maintaining) the system to assume a more complete responsibility of managing and operating it on an ongoing basis. In effect, the end user partners with its trusted security integrator for the management of its access control operation to reduce upfront hardware costs and manpower requirements.

For a systems integrator, offering managed access control provides a new source of recurring monthly revenue (RMR), including a monthly system licensing fee (with a possible markup) and an additional monthly service fee to oversee the system. Adopting the managed access control model is another attractive way to expand your business and its valuation.

Advantages for Integrators

In a managed system scenario, the system’s head-end is installed at an integrator’s location or it could be based in the cloud; that is, hosted by a third-party datacenter. Using networking and Internet protocol (IP), access control readers and other hardware components installed at an end user’s site can communicate with system head-end servers and other infrastructure.

Some other compelling reasons for integrators to embrace managed access as a new RMR source:

  • Offers a new way for a dealer to differentiate itself in the market.
  • Providing access control services on an ongoing basis ensures a tighter connection between an integrator and its customer. The integrator knows first-hand what’s going on with the solution and can deal with problems proactively.
  • Faster response and better service translate into a better, more long-term relationship with an ongoing customer. The integrator is top-of-mind when any new security project or challenge emerges.
  • Better overall operation of the system. Having someone monitoring the system 24/7 means there is help at hand if the CEO’s prox card doesn’t work after hours.

Few Obstacles to the Sale

One element that makes managed access control possible is cloud-based networked systems. Access control in the cloud is similar to the parallel trend of using cloud-based systems for video surveillance. However, access control in the cloud is easier to implement and doesn’t face the challenges of video systems related to bandwidth limitations.

Access control data takes up a much smaller share of the “data pipeline”; installing it requires less additional investment in infrastructure. Less use of bandwidth also means less scrutiny from a corporate IT department, which gets involved anytime a new system has a big impact on the network. In short, there are fewer obstacles to a sale and fewer objections from customers. Access control, therefore, lends itself more easily to cloud-based systems, which are an important enabler of managed access control.

Using the cloud also offers up the possibility of greater redundancy — backup sites can ensure continuous and secure operation. Geographic failover can reroute data to a new location if weather or other natural disaster were to impact a datacenter. Dependable system operation is a given. Integrators can provide a higher level of service by adding personnel to manage the system or to expand the functions provided by a monitoring center or central station.

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