The concept of access control as a service (ACaaS) takes on varying forms of definition which in itself has created confusion in the security industry. New research recently published by IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS), titled The North American and European Markets for Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) addresses this confusion by defining what constitutes true cloud outlining its core features and functionalities.
“In order for the ACaaS industry to reach its full potential, the industry needs to establish set definitions, solutions and offerings,” says Blake Kozak, report author and senior analyst at IMS Research.
In today’s market there are two main types of ACaaS offering: true cloud and rack server. True cloud is defined as multitenant, scalable (on demand) and redundant. Kozak continues, “More specifically, multitenant is when one application serves all clients and each clients’ datasets are partitioned on a server and kept secure. The application itself serves the entire ecosystem. Scalable is when a customer needs to add (or subtract) users or doors, and the system is able to adapt quickly to those needs. Redundancy is when back-up servers are in place so the system is never crippled if a server fails. While rack servers can still qualify as cloud (SaaS), they only offer some of the traits of true cloud. This model is essentially extending the network connection to a third party location rather than a server closet on-site.”
Most ACaaS offerings are rack server and are not defined as true cloud due to the high costs often associated with building private datacenters and the complexity of providing a multitenant solution (e.g. providing and maintaining secure identities in the cloud). Although rack servers may have some characteristics of true cloud, the economies of scale presented with a rack server are not the same as with true cloud (multitenant). As a result, many of the players in this market are regional dealers, software providers and alarm monitoring companies who have a smaller customer base in order to provide customized solutions. In many cases, partnering with an IaaS (infrastructure as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) provider may be necessary to provide an ACaaS solution as an alternative to a privately owned datacenter.
The attraction of new revenue streams is hard to ignore particularly during tough economic times. Those interested in exploring new opportunities within the ACaaS space must first decide on the type of hosting solution they plan to offer. For example, building a data center, providing hosting from their own location (dealer premise – simply moving the servers from the customer premise to the dealer premise), partner with a monitoring company or another provider that offers existing infrastructure, rent rack space and provide their own server or rent rack space including the servers from a provider. In addition providers need to also identify how they plan to sell licenses (monthly, quarterly, annually) as well as how to bill (per door or by number of users, sites or transactions).
Kozak summarizes, “To enter the ACaaS space, preparation will be key to success. With confusion continuing to circulate as to what constitutes true cloud it is vital that suppliers looking to enter this space plan for how they intend to price and operate their ACaaS offering before entering the market”.