The Cloud Takes Security To New Heights

How Access Control in the Cloud allows schools to secure more for less and unlock the door to simple security

By Robert Lydic

The world of physical security has undergone seismic changes in the last 10 years in video, analytics, and the utilization of security technologies for business intelligence. Technology that once was considered science fiction has now become a reality.

In the education market, these technologies have come at a very opportune time with constrained budgets, administrative staff reductions, and tragic incidents requiring lockdowns and video observations reaching an all-time high. One of the greatest advancements that has come to market during this time has been cloud-based access control.

Cloud access control as a technology has come of age in the last several years and is lowering costs of acquisition and operation, increasing the security of facilities, and providing a solution that is exponentially more cyber secure than server and panel-based products. The educational facilities are fundamentally able to accomplish more with less resources and dedicate those resources to their core mission of delivering better educational experiences for their students and communities.

Physical lock and key have long been the primary method of securing educational facilities; with larger institutions deploying access control systems over the last several years to replace these traditional approaches. The value of access control has been well documented with benefits ranging from comprehensive lockdown solutions, enabling audit trails of access, system wide management of credentials, and integration with building management and video surveillance systems.

However, the cost of implementing access control has been significant and created a chasm between the need to secure more doors with electronic access control and the actual budgets dedicated to implementing these systems. The general cost per door has hovered around $3,500 to install an access control door in the education market and the number of doors requiring security increases annually.

Cloud access control has represented a major breakthrough in reducing the costs associated with implementing and maintaining systems. With Cloud access control systems, there is no need for a local server, an operating system, expensive IT infrastructures, or personnel to manage their upkeep. When combined with IP hardware solutions these cloud solutions have driven down the cost to implement access control by 35-45%.

The operational costs of utilizing access cloud access control also represent significant advantages. With no physical server to maintain and a single interface to administer all individual facilities plus individual doors, the human resources needed internally are dramatically reduced.

While cost is a leading reason to select a cloud system, there are other important aspects to consider when moving to the cloud. Functionality, efficiency and ease of use should also rank high when selecting an access control system. Functionality and efficiency are key benefits of a cloud access control system. Most educational entities have many facilities sprawling across geographies with disparate systems installed by different integrators.

School IT and security administrators are left to maintain servers, databases, user data, and differing methodologies of notifications and lockdowns for each facility. Cloud-based access control has become a panacea to streamline these disparate systems and increase efficiency.

When deploying cloud-based access control systems, another key to simplicity is utilizing a network based reader-controller to open and close a door. In a cloud infrastructure, all reader-controller hardware devices across all facilities communicate directly with the cloud software; enabling a single interface for all doors, users, and rules, across all buildings. As a result of the application being browser based, it can be utilized from anywhere at any time, providing the ability to manage a system from home or even initiate a lockdown from a mobile device.

The software can then be further compartmentalized for administrators to manage and administer their specific facility, enabling more personnel access to respond to changing needs of daily activities or emergency events. This functionality can be further distributed to users that did not have access to send alerts and alarms in the past. With Cloud Access Control, teachers of individual classrooms can open their computer’s browser or their smart phone and notify the entire institution of a security concern in seconds.

The simplicity of the user interface from the cloud access control systems do not require school IT and security personnel to be security experts or attend costly, multi-day trainings. They can instead operate their access control system easily while dedicating time and resources to their core educational mission.

The greatest unforeseen benefit to education facilities is the application of cybersecurity protocols from a cloud manufacturer. Cybersecurity presents the greatest growing threat to institutions that rely on connected devices and software to deliver content and security. Cloud access control systems like ISONAS delivers their solution on cloud security giants like Amazon Web Services.

While all cloud infrastructures are not equal, some manufacturers offer such robust cyber solutions that they are able to actively monitor and address threats with strong internal processes and proactively apply security patches as soon as possible.

For an educational facility to address these concerns at the same rate requires an immense expense of human and financial resources. When addressing the security of doors and a physical facility, utilizing a robust cloud access control system is akin to hitting the “easy button.”

Interestingly, some administrators when presented with a cloud system opt for an onsite software solution, however when close analysis is undertaken, the security of these cloud solutions are drastically superior to their onsite proposals. In fact, many cloud access control solutions offer security provisions on the same level as highly secure agencies such as the CIA and the Secret Service.

A current real-world example of this is the vulnerability that was discovered in the Intel chips referred to as the Meltdown and Spectre. These flaws in the chips were discovered and patches applied across all devices in the ISONAS cloud infrastructure weeks before the widespread notification was sent to users across the world. Users of this cloud access control had to take no action and instead were protected before they even knew there was a threat.

Advancements in security technology will continue to drive greater efficiencies in deployment and acquisition for the education market. Cloud access control technologies truly represent the greatest advancement in securing doors and facilities in 40 years and empower institutions to dedicate the appropriate resources to security. By lowering costs, increasing functionality, and increasing security, educational facilities are able to dedicate fewer resources to securing their facilities and more to their primary focus; educating tomorrow’s leaders.

About The Author
Robert Lydic
Global VP of Sales