How will the electronic access control industry embrace the cloud in the coming years? Will governments see the value in using commercial cloud resources? Will governments create standards and best practices to ease restrictions on cloud storage across borders? Will operational expenditure (opex) options open the door to more SMB adoption? With the cost per door coming down for access control solutions, will the market opportunity for access control as a service (ACaaS) be negatively impacted?
Many questions still exist for providers and future adopters of ACaaS; however, IHS expects ACaaS to thrive over the long term – the global market size is expected to exceed $530 million by 2018 and $1.8 billion by 2025.
Driving this growth will be the global adoption of cloud and virtualization in other sectors, not related to security, and the services associated with ACaaS . During the first half of 2014, IHS calculated that multi-tenant data center sales grew by 12.7% on a global basis. As it relates to access control, IHS expects the commoditization of access control hardware to draw more attention to value-added services and ROI. As a result, channel partners and providers who are more specialized in IT, integration and mobility (remote connectivity) could see more growth in the long term.
Although the access control industry is inherently slow to adopt new technologies, end-user adoption and awareness is only half the battle. Unless they were born in the cloud, most integrators and installers must change a long standing mind set of selling boxes and components and begin selling services, features and concepts. Additionally, they must know the IT side of the business and be able to answer questions regarding redundancy, certifications, hacking, and other buzz words associated with cloud-based services and ACaaS. Although it is a difficult process, the access control industry is already moving in this direction. Starwood Hotels offer mobile keys over Bluetooth, banking headquarters have installed wireless locks and the residential market is embracing mobile security at a rapid pace.
For the questions listed above, the short answer is, Yes, and the access control industry will continue to embrace the cloud, albeit, at a much slower pace than originally projected. Today, most providers of ACaaS do not specialize in ACaaS only. As a result, ACaaS remains a small portion of most monitoring stations and integrators’ overall business. One reason why these channel partners do not specialize in only ACaaS is because it wouldn’t be profitable, at least not at the beginning. With the ACaaS model, a large number of accounts is critical so many channel partners are even holding off on providing managed services until more accounts are added. Additionally, most of these providers do not have a ‘true cloud’ model as defined by NIST. Most of these providers rely on only a handful of servers to provide services. Until end-users begin requesting and using ACaaS in droves and integration with video and other services transpires, IHS expects that this non-true cloud model will suffice for most end-users.
Furthermore, IHS expects that governments will continue to embrace the cloud, but since they must find ways to manage resource and security, which for the government, is often a lengthy and expensive venture. The US government has already started down this path with milCloud and other initiatives. For the EU, the European Cloud Partnership (Trusted Cloud) has acted as a starting point and blueprint for the future.
Overall, IHS expects ACaaS to continue to grow and expand due to the flexibility of the offering not provided by on-site solutions. For example, end-users can manage the entire solution themselves, while outsourcing the infrastructure maintenance. Or they can pay an additional fee and the entire solution will be managed for them from monitoring, report printing, badging, granting access rights and etc. Or they could ch