Making the jump to cloud-based access control.
What this article is all about
Access control has been a big part of the commercial security sector for many years. The need to control doors to a facility or facilities is a fundamental part of security. To date, businesses have relied on traditional access control, which has become outdated and continues to be expensive and cumbersome. To put it bluntly, they may not know any better. In our homes, we have come to expect a certain level of automation and flexibility of management. While at the office we almost expect it to be cumbersome, expensive, and difficult to manage. In other words, there is a huge gap and disconnect with the way we manage our home and business environments. That should not be the case!
In this article, we’ll illustrate some of the obvious pain points of traditional access control, in contrast, introduce the benefits of a hosted solution. Then explore what the mobile experience means for the dealer and end-users. All while pointing out ProdataKey’s unique cost effective approach to hosted access control.
The pain points of traditional access control
Integrators and end-users often complain about the downfalls of traditional access control, which has made it difficult for the system administrators who manage facility access privileges. Systems are often managed through costly onsite servers or dedicated computers with a specified version of access control software. This is typically cumbersome and expensive to maintain. Management is typically done through the local network or remotely via the internet where ports are open in the firewall to an insecure portal. In many cases, this relies on public IP addresses and default credentials for access. It's no wonder the number one cyber vulnerability of small and medium sized businesses is through their security platform. Therefore users who understand these cyber security vulnerabilities require system administrators to be on site or have an authorized device in order to make changes to employee and visitor access. Software restrictions also play a vital role as licenses are usually issued to specific people or for specific features. Sure, it may not sound like that big of a deal at first—but once understood, the overall cost of ownership and security vulnerabilities play a significant role in each business case. The sad part is, it's almost too late once the vulnerabilities are discovered. Because of the level of difficulty of traditional systems we often find many business administrators keeping cards and users in the system, issuing credentials back out like traditional keys. Not only is this a huge security vulnerability, but it takes away the very value of access control. Traditional access control can't give an administrator the confidence or peace of mind they may expect.
Access control in the cloud
Web-based access control isn’t necessarily anything new. In fact, it’s been around for quite some time. Yet, like traditional access control, it has continued to rely on open ports, public IP addresses, and default login credentials. However, the market has changed significantly in the past year. Few manufacturers are now offering different flavors of cloud-based solutions which are much easier for the dealer and system administrator to install and manage. System administrators can more quickly make changes to user access from anywhere at anytime. As a result, cloud-based access control alleviates some of the ongoing burdens of traditional access control. In many cases, there’s no longer a need to set up dedicated PC’s, servers, be on site, or buy expensive software licenses. Also, everything is easily accessed from any web-enabled device, due to the platform being built on the manufacturer's servers. This saves dealers and system administrators time and money. The cost savings can be even more significant when multiple locations are being managed.
The web and mobile experience
Because mobile devices have evolved from a commodity to a necessity you won’t find too many people who don’t have one in their pocket. They truly have become a part of our everyday lives and workflow. Hence why more and more individuals expect to take full control of their environments through them. That statement holds especially true for the most basic user and is now becoming adopted by enterprise users alike. Apps keep us connected, informed, and in control. We expect the convenience of anywhere, anytime access that mobile devices offer us. It now becomes a let down if a service is being offered without a mobile app. For administrators, a web-enabled service offers flexibility and total freedom. There’s no need to be on site, and they can quickly make the changes from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
What it means for dealers and end-users
There can be a fairly low barrier to entry when exploring cloud-based access control. For existing systems, most of the work has already been done and may only require a quick switch of hardware. While new systems are typically a quicker installation over non-cloud platforms. This then allows the user to eliminate large upfront or continued licensing costs. Though hosting costs are a part of a cloud platform, the costs vary by manufacturer. Also, the industry continues to clout cost savings over standalone access control. So when considering one door or several hundred doors, cloud access control delivers unparalleled control, mobility, and functionality. End-users will also find themselves using a cloud platform over a standalone lockset because the cloud delivers substantially more functionality and very little additional cost.
Once features, functionality, and benefits are clearly explained to the end-user, the functionality sells itself. It becomes an easier service to pitch as your clients recognize the tangible value and lifetime savings. One of the biggest benefits a dealer will experience is the opportunity for RMR (recurring monthly revenue). Dealers now have the flexibility to offer a fully managed and/or hosted access control platform which builds a much stronger, proactive service relationship with their customers.
The ProdataKey approach
In 2011 we started the development of pdk.io, our cloud-based platform. We believe we’ve contributed significantly to pioneering cloud-based access control. As one of the pioneers, many have asked what sets ProdataKey apart from the few other hosted platforms introduced in the industry. The answer is simple, ProdataKey like very few other products in the industry, has been built new from the ground up. We own the entire experience from hardware and firmware to the full cloud infrastructure. This is a vast difference from software companies built to control another manufacturers hardware. Typically resulting in diminished functionality, along with both manufacturers trying to stay in sync with changes to each other's platforms. This is also a distinct advantage among all others who are building on legacy technology. In most every case it doesn't make sense for our competitors to toss their existing code base and start from scratch. So as they determine that a migration to the cloud makes sense, they develop patches and plugins which give their platform a hosted experience. Only by starting from scratch has ProdataKey been able to develop the most cohesive, cost effective, mobile platform on the market! This is precisely what allows us to offer every feature available on a desktop (PC or Mac), on any mobile device as well (Android or Apple), via our one of a kind pdk.io app. So regardless of you being a dealer or end-user, you can take full advantage of every feature anywhere, anytime, from any web-enabled device. This is a stark difference from many other platforms offering limited app based features.
Our approach to the cloud has always been simplicity and mobility for both integrators and end-users. While developing pdk.io we were able to maintain our IP, PoE, and long range wireless mesh (wimac™) technology. Our hardware is a strong contributor to the most flexible platform in the industry. Certainly one of our greatest accomplishments is the plug n’ play capability of our controllers. Using a native mobile app each door can be configured just seconds after it’s been installed. This has allowed our integrators to significantly reduce installation and customer training times. Easy management means more customers are apt to use the platform often, dramatically increasing physical security.
As noted earlier, system security may be one of the biggest objections a dealer faces. Some would argue that hosted access control is less secure because it’s not stored on a local server. Others would argue that mobile devices can be compromised. This couldn't be further from the truth, and in ProdataKey's case, cloud-based access control is actually more secure. We spent a significant amount of time developing the security behind pdk.io prior to building the platform itself. Continued intelligent (Real-Time) updates also ensure the platform is significantly more secure than any stand alone platform, which systems typically require on site updates and may come at a substantial cost. To ensure the security and integrity of our products we’ve incorporated highly secure two-factor authentication. Before any system changes take place, the dealer or administrator must verify their identity. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished. For instance, administrators can be asked to present a physical platform key, use a generated QR code, receive an SMS text, or use the biometric fingerprint sensor on their mobile device. The dealer and administrator choose their preferred level of two-factor authentication directly in their profile.
One of the most powerful features of the pdk.io platform is alerting. Security is all about staying updated, informed, and being notified of any potential threats or issues. With the pdk.io platform we've made a huge push to make sure that both end-users and integrators are alerted should any issues arise. As an integrator, you'll be alerted of low batteries, loss of supervision, and more. End-users will easily be alerted to any security threats that might arise. The results are stronger security and a better service experience for end-users. Alerts can easily be customized and configured to meet specific needs.
Lastly, our API has stood as one of the flagships of the pdk.io platform. When another manufacturer desires to integrate with the pdk.io platform they receive an unparalleled amount of flexibility. So regardless of the integration being with an intrusion panel, video surveillance, or visitor management the experience is seamless. Since it's introduction, the pdk.io API has been requested by dozens of manufacturers spanning the scope of security products.
The end result
If you are unsure if pdk.io cloud access control is a fit, we would encourage you to take 15 minutes with one of our account executives. Like many dealers spanning the globe, we can assure you it will change the landscape of your business. We also work diligently to increase the value of your relationship with your customers. You’ll quickly find pdk.io will give you a competitive advantage by offering your clients a platform that is simple, affordable, and mobile. You’ll see an increased opportunity for building revenue, and you'll be offering a superior product/service. Educating the end-user is one of the greatest challenges that you as an integrator may face. Help them fully understand the differences between traditional and cloud-based access control. Teach them about the enhanced security options, and explain to them the cost savings. Once your clients understand the benefits of pdk.io cloud-based access control, they won't want anything else.