Pattys-photos-cloudsWe’ve all seen those puffy white, wondrous, water vapor creations up in the sky, commonly known as clouds.  These natural wonders are not the clouds we’ll be investigating here.  Instead we’ll be taking a look at what the “cloud” is in relation to business networks and their security infrastructure.

You may be using the cloud in some form already and not even know it.  Think about your everyday, do you use an internet based e-mail account, like Gmail?  If so, then you use a cloud based service.  So what is the “cloud”?  Basically, the cloud takes recorded information and stores it on internet servers.  Instead of taking up space on your computer or on a physical storage device your information is accessible via the internet.  In our physical world of limited space and the desire to streamline as much as possible, the cloud is helping achieve just that.  While it is an exciting technology with seemingly endless applications, it is not without flaw.  That being said, its benefits seem to outweigh its imperfections; and with non-stop progression in technology it can only improve with time.

Where does the cloud fit within the security system industry?  In security applications today, cloud services are becoming a presence in business video surveillance and access control solutions.  As security system components migrate towards a more cohesive integration the need for heavy wiring, cables, and hardware is dissipating making the cloud a more viable option for some.  As a licensed security systems provider our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. strives to utilize current technologies that make sense within an organizations facility and their budget.  We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.

How is a cloud-based security network setup and what are the benefits?  In many cases a comprehensive security system is comprised of multiple surveillance cameras, some form of physical access control, fire and burglar alarms, and an alarm monitoring service.  Surveillance and access control are the areas where the cloud seems to have the most impact these days.

As end-users and integrators move away from analog and switch to IP surveillance systems the video cameras themselves are becoming more advanced.  According to Steve Surfaro, an Axis Communications’ Security Industry Liaison, “Many of today’s network video cameras are actually platforms or small computers, complete with solid-state storage and room for onboard security and video content analysis ‘apps,’ as well as enhanced image processing.”  Otherwise, in a cloud environment cameras are linked to a company’s network and record footage that is stored on encrypted internet servers.  If you think about it, it’s doing the same thing as a traditional surveillance system would as far as recording data and storing it, it’s just the means of conveyance that differs.

When it comes to access control linked to the cloud the possibilities include, but are not limited to, being able to control door, elevator, and card access remotely from a mobile device.  Being able to remotely access a system through a secured network in the cloud opens the door to a world of convenience and efficiency.  As surveillance and access control continue to be further integrated through wireless and IP systems, managing them with the cloud will likely become commonplace.

The benefits of using the cloud include reduced infrastructure, low system maintenance, low energy consumption, flexibility, scalability, and almost unlimited storage capabilities (Griffin,  It helps eliminate the need to use multiple processes to operate a security system, potentially alleviating pressure on a company’s IT department.  This could help cut down on unnecessary manpower costs.  And the capability for remote software updates would eliminate the hassle on both the end-user and system integrator.

While there are many benefits to utilizing the cloud for video surveillance and access control, it is not a perfect system on its own; and it may take time before it becomes a pervasive technology.  Systems that rely solely on the cloud for recording and storage face some obvious risks.  For one, there is the potential for network outages.

According to Pierre Racz, president, CEO and founder of Genetec-a company focused on hybrid cloud solutions-it is likely that you will have network outages with the cloud.  However, these outages are estimated to be no more than 4 hours per year.  Fortunately there are inexpensive solutions to such an issue.  To avoid losing any data a local recording device can be set up to operate for more than 4 hours.  Implementing redundancies like NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives will also help eliminate any potential losses created by outages.

The initial cost of a cloud based system may also be a deterrent to end-users.  However, Racz points out that the maintenance costs for a cloud-based system are far lower than maintaining the extensive hardware that comes with more traditional systems.  Business size is also a factor in the cost.  Cost will vary depending on how many cameras, how much bandwidth, and other equipment is required.  So while a cloud-based system may not initially make sense for a high-rise office building, it may make sense for a singular business or a company with multiple small locations.  Cloud access is another major concern for end-users.  The question remains, what is stopping someone from hacking into my network?  Industry experts believe this concern can be eliminated based on the high level of encryption used to authenticate users.

Even though there might be a few technical hitches with cloud integration in the security industry today, it promises to be more ubiquitous in the near future.  The communication gap between end-users, integrators, and industry professionals on the best way to implement this exciting technology is shrinking.  Once the dialogue becomes clearer the cloud has potential to become standard protocol.  If you are considering making the switch to a cloud-based system or hybrid solution be sure to call on an industry professional.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can guide you through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We’ve been able to adapt our services based on the ever changing technological climate, implementing what is best and makes sense for our clients.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Pattys-photos-Flickr-Creative Commons

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