As more security services move to the cloud and are delivered in a Software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, many of the advantages this new approach provides customers may be overlooked. Traditionally integrators install servers and recorders on the premises of a small-to-medium business or an enterprise organization. Maintaining multiple systems across a wide variety of locations is a time-consuming and expensive operation, with the responsibility falling on the integrator or onsite security staff.
Reduced costs and time are among many reasons SaaS offerings continue gaining traction among security end-users. In the SaaS model, a provider hosts cloud-based applications, making them securely available to subscribers via the internet. The provider handles all IT infrastructure to deliver the solution, often eliminating any requirements for the end-user’s IT department — if it has one. Remote, cloud-based SaaS services offer many immediate and long-term benefits. Let’s look at some of the top advantages.
Quickly Gain Benefits
SaaS installation is quick and simple for end-users, requiring an internet connection, username and password. Once connected, security applications are available immediately or within hours. There’s no need for the end-user to hassle with installation issues. Also, because SaaS applications are hosted in the cloud, it provides access to a wide variety of new and different technologies, such as artificial intelligence-based analytics, that are traditionally too expensive or difficult for many end-users to install locally.
SaaS provides customers with the capability to effortlessly scale their systems up or down depending on current and future needs. As businesses grow, so do their security requirements. The traditional system model required purchasing additional software or servers and coordinating a project to have them installed and configured. In contrast, the SaaS service provider maintains the IT infrastructure to handle customers’ growth. In addition, there are two other related characteristics of SaaS platforms – systems integration and standardization – that provide greater flexibility. Developing a SaaS model requires providers to embrace open architecture, adopting universal protocols and standards used for communication on the web. This in turn encourages integration between systems to share data, providing customers the power to choose “best-in-breed” products without being locked into one proprietary technology or another.
Updates and Upgrades
Security systems require regular software upgrades to improve performance, release new features and enhance cybersecurity. In a SaaS environment, the provider is responsible for these updates, and these are typically delivered without any service disruption or downtime. As the service provider maintains the IT infrastructure, security teams no longer need to manage the eventual replacement of onsite servers and recorders. This is important as it helps future proof an organization’s electronic security.
A secure operation is pivotal for a successful cloud-based provider. SaaS providers invest heavily in cybersecurity measures, such as routine software penetration testing, security audits, and certifications. Look for organizations that have certification with recognized information security standards such as SOC2 or ISO 27001. These require a third-party cyber security firm to conduct annual audits in order to retain these stringent certifications.
Try Before you Buy
Many cloud-based SaaS operators provide limited trial periods enabling users to evaluate a security application. This is an excellent opportunity to test drive an application to ensure its functionality and integration capabilities with other solutions.
The ability to save money is a valuable benefit of a cloud-based SaaS environment. Compared to the traditional security model, SaaS applications typically require no upfront capital costs to end-users. Updates, upgrades, licensing fees and other maintenance costs are included in the subscription fee. With various subscription terms, companies can often use SaaS applications for both long-term or special, short-term projects. Organizations only pay for the services they need for as long as required.
Located in the cloud, SaaS applications are available using an internet browser on virtually any device, from desktop computers to smartphones. The latter choice brings an application’s benefits to field teams, such as patrolling guards.
The potential uses of SaaS for security are almost endless. However, one good example is today’s next-generation Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) platforms. PSIMs capture incoming data from multiple security technologies, prioritizing alarms and events so security operations center (SOC) operatives have a single view to quickly coordinate their response. These platforms integrate with a wide variety of systems – some are deployed on-premises, increasingly many are being delivered in the cloud. Leveraging and collating these different signals and new technologies, such as AI-based analytics, into a single view is exactly the type of use that the cloud was designed for. Every characteristic and advantage of SaaS is true for these platforms, especially the power to seamlessly grow and adapt to the user’s needs.
The advantages of Software as a Service are many. As the pace of change continues to accelerate the adoption of these services will become commonplace, especially as Integrators utilize cloud-based services to deliver flexible solutions that achieve immediate results.