Insider’s Assessments on Cloud-Based Access Control
Paul DiPeso, the executive vice president of Feenics, discusses critical factors for the integrator and their end-user clients in the selection of a cloud-based access control system in the latest Hot Seat.
Established in 2010, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based Feenics is a provider of cloud-based access control and security management platform solutions. Feenics garnered an SSI 2015 Most Valuable Product Award under the Access Control Management Programs & Software Category. The company’s executive vice president, Paul DiPeso, joins the conversation to discuss critical factors for the integrator and their end-user clients in the selection of a cloud-based system.
As the cloud and physical access control continue to unify, what benefits do you see blossoming?
Moving access control from a traditional model of residing on a server to a cloud-based environment is like taking the shackles off for both integrator and end user. It creates options and value for both. End users want ways to lower their overall costs, gaining more functionality and having the ability to command and control their system from anywhere. Integrators are looking for ways to build more recurring revenue opportunities, free up expensive tech time for other uses and minimize attrition risks with customers they have worked hard to initially win.
RELATED: Unlocking the Door to Cloud-Based Access Control
How does a cloud-based access control security management platform foster these advantages?
For years, internal IT departments have built and maintained the servers and infrastructure at the business facility, and that came with a very high price tag. But having that same footprint with an on-premises access platform creates unnecessary spend and upkeep. With cloud-based solutions, onsite servers and appliances are eliminated, thus reducing the total cost of ownership [TCO] while not losing any functionality.
In fact, cloud-based software is always up to date. Any patches, hot fixes or new enhancements are automatically down-loaded. No scheduling or rolling of trucks by the integrator and more importantly, no disruption to the end user’s business day. In addition, backups are also accomplished in the cloud, so data recovery becomes a built-in attribute of this environment.
What should be foremost in mind for integrators that are exploring a cloud-based offering?
First, choice. One of the most important factors in choosing any access control platform is having one that can be deployed on premises, or hosted. Why does the integrator have to choose one product locally, one for hosting and another if it’s hosted by the manufacturer? Most integrators want to reduce the number of vendors because having too many product lines can be a burden to operations, sales, installation and service teams. Utilizing the same user interface [UI] for every installation creates economies of scale and more efficient and effective technicians.
If a hosted option is the end-user’s preference, then the next question becomes, “Do I as the integrator need to host, or can I use the manufacturer?” The answer is again, choice. If the integrator has made the investment to create a datacenter, then the access software should have the capability to reside in that environment. If the integrator doesn’t have that infrastructure or what it takes to make that investment internally, then having the manufacturer host would be the option.
Second, open hardware platforms is another key component. Using field hardware that does not box in the end user is important. Today, Mercury and HID combined have over 50 access control manufacturers using their hardware, and that is a safety net for both the integrator and the end user. So if one of those 50-plus software developers decides not to continue building an access control platform, options are available. Yes, there is a cost to convert but not nearly as painful as a total rip-and-replace.
During my tenure at Lenel, I had to break the news to some of largest Fortune 500 companies that their GE hardware was becoming obsolete in the future and forcing many of them to spend unbudgeted funds to replace their access control system. That announcement also caused many integrators to find new access control platforms, which also meant retraining their entire organization. Again, this caused unbudgeted costs without direct revenue to compensate. Over the past 30 years, the industry has seen this occur too many times.
Finally, having a robust, full-featured access solution where innovation continues to add new functionality is critical; however, having an open application programming interface [API] that allows bolt-on solutions from other sources is important as well.
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