Written by Ollie Law

There are a number of key differences between on-premise control and a cloud-based system. It is important to understand these differences in order to decide which will fit your unique business needs. Cloud-based access control is software that allows administrators to monitor and edit access information from one centralised system – anywhere at any time, whether on-site or on the go – via an internet-connected device. On-premise is a system installed and operated within your premises that requires a physical computer server to run the necessary software and an IT professional to maintain and update the system on-site, as and when needed.

If you want to learn more about what cloud-based access control is and its benefits – check out the blogs in our Knowledge Base.

6 key differences between cloud-based and on-premise access control:


1. Cost

When considering the cost of your access control system it is vital to not make the mistake of comparing the upfront cost of on-premise with the continual monthly fees of cloud-based solutions. The most expensive part of IT ownership is the ongoing operational expenses, support, licensing agreements and hardware replacements. Failure to invest in these ongoing infrastructure updates can result in loss of back-ups, corrupted files and databases lacking information when needed.

By installing and managing less hardware, cloud solutions are the more cost-effective option with ongoing maintenance costs kept to a minimum. New features, security measures and other updates are all applied automatically, whilst data and management options can be backed up easily. Not only does it remove the worry of obsolete systems, constant IT updates and staff training, but it also provides an optimal solution to preserve space for organisations who doesn’t have the capacity for a dedicated server room.

Cloud-based access control is a subscription service that includes technical support with no hidden costs. A low upfront cost with predictable, manageable expenditure over time, allows companies to dramatically reduce operating costs without compromising security standards, scaling up and down depending on their needs and budget. Many tasks are faster or entirely automated which will save on time as well.


2. User Experience & Accessibility

With both solutions, on-site systems like key-card readers remain at their relevant locations, while the server is either also on-premise in an on-site computer system or hosted in an online data centre if it is cloud-based.

Cloud-based access control systems are robust security solutions that promise ease of use, anywhere access, scalability and remote administration without having to invest heavily in IT infrastructure. You can add and delete users, update access credentials, view reports on entry times, export real-time audit trails, and securely share data throughout your organisation from anywhere at any time with the click of a button.

With on-premise access control, everything needs to be accessed on-site. Cloud-based solutions allow for off-site hosting, so whether at home or out of the country, you can monitor entry points across one or many locations with complete flexibility. Regardless of which OS or browser you use, with a secure login you can inspect your site and manage hundreds of keys from any Internet-ready device. This is particularly useful if your organisation has multiple locations around the world, you can grant access without needing to step foot on site. The ability to open and secure doors remotely also eliminates the need for on-site staff to gatekeep.


3. Technical Support

Compared to on-premise solutions, a cloud-based access control system offers better support. Rather than relying on in-person support that can be time-consuming and costly, the affordable monthly fees you pay include any updates your system needs to ensure it runs efficiently and securely, alongside a dedicated expert who will tackle any issues that may arise or questions you may have. On-premise systems require on-site technicians to go through time-intense training to make sense of your access system before they can implement any of updates or customisations you may desire.


4. Security & Performance

On-premise access control systems are becoming less secure every day. The technology used in these solutions have been around for a while making them vulnerable to hackers who are familiar with the systems and know exactly how much time it takes for each server location or IT department to have access control capabilities. Security is elevated with cloud-based access control. All data and information is safely stored in a remote server in the cloud that will combat cyber-attacks due to digital credentials being encrypted with state-of-the-art cryptographic algorithms – similar to how online bank accounts protect themselves from hacking.

Doors, gates and access points can be monitored easily through a PC, tablet or smartphone. With cloud-based systems, users have the ability to grant or revoke access instantly – preventing unauthorised access or operations to protect people, premises and assets. You no longer have to worry about running the risk of unauthorised access via a lost or stolen keycard or fob as access can be revoked immediately. For extra security, keycards and fobs can be eliminated altogether, as clouds systems can be utilised with smartphones.

The lack of a physical server when it comes to cloud-based access control means you won’t have to worry about valuable data getting lost in a power outage or hardware failure – it is easy to continually get access to the information you need. Data is backed up automatically with cloud sync, compared to on-premise systems that you have to remember to backup manually.


5. Scaling & Customisation

With on-premise solutions, you often have to pay for feature-rich systems, whether that be an ongoing yearly update cost or cost per feature and once these are bought, they often can’t be removed. With cloud solutions, it’s possible to add or remove services as they suit your business.

Cloud-based access control solutions offer unprecedented flexibility in almost every area of operations. They grant unrestricted access control to facility managers with mobile functions that allow the sending of mass notifications like emergency alerts or grant and revoke access to all employees and visitors at once to keep them safe and secure from potentially dangerous areas or equipment. Live occupancy monitoring and real-time fire muster reporting, means cloud access solutions can increase your business safety measures and allow you to be sure of who is or was on your premises.

For on-premise access control, any time you want to add a new door or grant access to a new person, you have to make the changes on-site using the server computer. Cloud-based systems allow you to scale up or down as needed within minutes. It can support you with potentially global growth, processing large numbers of users without having to install server boxes in every building like you would with on-premise access control. If you decide to move or expand to a new location, you can add more devices to your centralised system, avoiding the need to rebuild your security infrastructure every time. As well as easily onboard people on mass – if a new team is onboarded or someone leaves, you can instantly turn access on and off remotely.


6. Integration & updates

Unlike on-premise access control systems, cloud-based access control is developed on an open API platform so can integrate seamlessly with third-party systems and software in your current security ecosystem. These include mobile devices, video surveillance, booking platforms, biometric credentials and more. By integrating your access control solution with existing workflows and applications that your business already uses, you can implement an additional layer of security, automate processes and delegate tasks across the whole organisation with ease. This simplifies physical on-premise security by enabling you to set up pre-defined rules, eliminate possible human error and reduce manual time-consuming tasks, resulting in optimal business operations.

Having a cloud-based access control system means you will always have the latest features with real time automatic software updates, policies and credentials. Your system will benefit from the latest security features, bug fixes and performance enhancements, whilst requiring fewer pieces of physical equipment to be installed at your facility. Less hardware to maintain means less staff to manage the system. Any changes in your personnel’s access to your business will also be made automatically, ensuring you’re always up to date with the latest access rights.

Here at OLS, we strongly believe that cloud-based access control is the future. There are already countless benefits that will only get better as technology continues to progress. Whilst the cloud can integrate with your pre-existing physical access control systems, you can update them too – check out our selection of Biometric, Door Access and Barrier Systems.


About The Author

Ollie Law has been working in the access control sector for over 14 years and has an extensive range of knowledge in the UK, Europe and USA markets.

He is a specialist in his field and has hosted talks on the importance of access control for the security of businesses worldwide.

Connect with Ollie on LinkedIn or if you’re ready to discuss your access control project, request a quote.

ollie from the ols team