In today’s fast-paced business world, ensuring the safety and security of your premises is paramount. They determine who can enter specific areas, granting or denying access based on authentication methods such as key cards, biometrics, or PINs.

Traditionally, on-premises access control systems were the norm, but cloud based solutions have emerged as a game-changer.

In this blog post, we’ll get into the details of both cloud based and on-premises access control systems, helping you understand how they work and which one might be the best fit for your organization.

Cloud Based Access Control Systems

Cloud based access control

In recent years, cloud based access control systems, also known as Access Control as a Service (ACaaS), have emerged as a viable alternative to on-premises access control systems.

They make use of the cloud to outsource access control to a security service provider that takes care of all access related needs.

How they work

Cloud based access control works by outsourcing your security and access needs to a security company that takes care of managing everything. From all authentication methods like key cards, PINs, or biometrics, everything is controlled remotely, without the need for being on-site to approve and authorize or restrict access.

All the information is stored in the cloud, on a third-party server, which connects to access control devices through the internet.

Advantages of Cloud Based Access Control Systems

Cloud based access control systems offer numerous advantages that are driving their increasing adoption in various industries.

Here are some key benefits:

Remote Management and Control

One of the standout features of cloud-based access control is the ability to manage and control your security system from anywhere with an internet connection. Whether you’re at the office, on the go, or working from home, you can access your system through a web interface or a dedicated app.

This remote management capability provides flexibility and convenience, especially for organizations with multiple locations or remote employees.

Enhanced Security and Data Protection

Cloud access control providers prioritize security and invest in robust measures to protect your data. They use encryption to safeguard information.

With cloud-based systems, you can rely on the expertise of your service provider to maintain the highest security standards, reducing the burden on your IT or security team.

Scalability and Flexibility

Cloud based access control is highly scalable. As your business grows or evolves, you can easily add or remove doors, users, and offices without the need for significant hardware investments. This flexibility is ideal for organizations with changing security needs.


Cloud access control systems typically require lower upfront costs compared to on-premises solutions. You won’t need to invest in on-site servers or extensive hardware.

Instead, you’ll pay for the services you use on a subscription basis, which can lead to cost savings in the long run.

Integration Capabilities

Cloud based systems often come with open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), allowing seamless integration with other software applications. This integration can streamline various processes, such as HR management, visitor tracking, and membership tools, enhancing overall efficiency.

Disadvantages of Cloud-based access control

The benefits of access control in the Cloud are compelling but not suitable for every business.

For example, companies with compliance requirements or high-level security needs must ensure that their provider can meet these standards before fully committing to using this technology.

Monthly or Annual Recurrent Fee

The subscription-based SaaS model may not be the best fit for all organizations. This type offers greater clarity and visibility into costs, with fewer hidden fees or surprise expenses than other models based on usage factors such as the number of users enabled per month/year, respectively.

Interruption fears

If the third-party server has an error, it could affect your access control system. However, most cloud providers have backup power sources and local controllers to keep them up and running when you lose electricity or Internet service.

Compliance concerns

Since the cloud based security system works through the internet, connectivity is of utmost importance. So, for sensitive establishments, it is unadvisable to have this system because it is susceptible to network issues rendering it unusable.

Moreover, regulations and guidelines prevent these systems to be installed at some sites altogether.

On-Premises Access Control Systems

premesis access control

Traditional on-premises access control systems have been the standard choice for many organizations for years. While cloud-based systems offer compelling advantages, on-premises solutions still have their merits.

How they work

On-premises access control systems are localized. You have physical servers on your premises running the show. These systems use the same authentication methods but rely on local hardware for access control and storage. They require an IT or a security team in-house to monitor and manage the system.

Advantages of On-Premises Access Control Systems

Here are some advantages of on-premises access control systems:

Greater Control and Customization

On-premises systems give you more control over your security infrastructure. You can tailor the system to meet your specific security requirements and have full ownership of your data, making them suitable for highly regulated industries.

High Performance and Reliability

On-premises systems often exhibit high performance and reliability because they don’t rely on external internet connections or cloud services. They can function even during network outages or power failures.

Compliance Assurance

For businesses subject to strict regulatory compliance requirements, on-premises systems can offer assurance that data is within your control and fully compliant with industry standards.

Disadvantages of on-premises access control systems

On-premises security systems have started to show their age, with disadvantages that make businesses switch to cloud based security. Some of these are the following:

More prone to security breach

Most systems are outdated and vulnerable to security threats since hackers and thieves have knowledge of the vulnerabilities in the system and can exploit the old age technology to extract information or get access to the site.

Require a separate team

On-premise security team requires an IT team or a dedicated security team to monitor and maintain the system. This means having to manage a separate set of employees, from scheduling to performance review to providing insurance and other benefits. These costs make it costly to maintain.

Less flexible

On-premise security systems are less flexible in terms of adding more doors, or scaling up to more sites as they require a significant investment in equipment as well as staff to scale up.

Which Is Right for Your Business?

The choice between cloud-based and on-premises access control systems depends on your organization’s unique needs and priorities.

Here are some factors to consider:

Size and Scalability

If your organization is rapidly expanding or needs flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, cloud-based access control may be more suitable.

Cost Structure

Evaluate your budget and cost expectations. Cloud based systems often have lower upfront costs, but are subscription-based for the whole duration of contract with the security service provider. On-premises solutions may have higher initial investments, and upkeep has to be checked as well.

Data Control

Consider your data security and compliance requirements. If you require maximum control over your data, an on-premises solution may align better with your needs. While if you need benefits like unlimited storage, anywhere access, a cloud based security system would be better.

Integration Needs

Assess your integration requirements with other software applications. If seamless integration is crucial, cloud-based systems with open APIs can provide significant advantages.

Bottom Line

Cloud based security systems stand out as the clear winner for most businesses, except for those that have specific needs or compliance concerns. They offer remote access capability, the flexibility to expand, and all of it at a much lower cost compared to on-premise systems. The key, however, is getting a reliable security service provider to take care of your needs.

Ultimately, the decision should align with your organization’s long-term goals, security priorities, and budget considerations. Carefully weigh the factors above to determine which solution is the better fit for your business.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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