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Moving Your Security System from On-Premises to the Cloud: Which Strategy Is Right for You?

By Northland Controls, Jun 14, 2023

There is no singular approach to moving your physical security system to the cloud.

What may work for one company may not work for the other based on their overall goals, support, and resources. When deciding to make the transition to the cloud, it’s important to work with a trusted partner so that you can discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each strategy. However, here is an overview to help kick-start the discussion.

For organizations moving to the cloud for the first time, and who only want to take servers or applications from on premises to the cloud without making any changes to the system architecture, this might be the right option.

Commonly referred to as a “lift and shift,” this process makes for an easier migration that does not require as much specialized expertise or advanced technology. In the simplest terms, you are taking your data and applications from one location (your office/servers) and moving it to another (the cloud host).

The refactor strategy means that teams will need to make changes to the applications themselves, whether out of necessity to work in the new cloud environment or to use the cloud as a segue to enhance systems or performance. Unless there are challenges associated with the legacy systems or immediate need to enhance for proper function in the new cloud environment, this strategy takes a bit more time and technical expertise and can be addressed later.

If the legacy equipment is not compatible with cloud applications, it may be time to “drop and shop” by moving to another product. This would require fully migrating your data from one system to another in order to be better suited for the cloud environment. End users using propriety equipment not historically built for the cloud, for example, is where this strategy often comes into play.

When doing this, be mindful of how existing licensing or contractual agreements may be affected by your move to a cloud environment. Cloud-based systems typically have subscription-based models that differ from many legacy systems. And while it may have cost-saving measures due to the ability to replace legacy equipment or reducing the number of applications needing to be managed, be sure to understand the true impact of making a switch.

Understand that a move to the cloud does not have to be an all or nothing approach. When reviewing what applications to migrate, consider any regulations or directives that have restrictions or requirements surrounding cloud vs. on-premises storage. Other considerations to think through include any applications that manage sensitive business operations or confidential data. While the cloud is typically a secure environment, perhaps opting for a private cloud vs. a public cloud would be more beneficial.

Budget aside, movement of these retained applications can occur down the road if regulations or contemplations prohibiting it changes, the company culture has more risk tolerance, or if more time is necessary to work through the migration process to everyone’s satisfaction.

A migration of your on-premises applications to the cloud can create an opportunity to reevaluate your portfolio. Over the years, technology stacks can become complex or overcrowded with applications that may not be critical to business operations in the modern environment. For those applications and services that are outdated or no longer necessary for business purposes, retiring them before making the move to cloud could prove advantageous.

While it’s not quite as simple as hitting the delete button, engaging the right technical support to eliminate unused or outdated applications permits the business to prioritize and re-focus on those of current importance.

Choosing What's Right For You
Determining which of these strategies, or a variation of depending upon your unique requirements, are considered one of the key preparation stages of cloud migration when discussing with your integrator and cloud host.

Through these conversations, your company can better identify the objectives and potential KPIs of moving applications from on-prem to the cloud. Certainly, price will be a factor as you consider immediate and long-term costs, but additional discussions should detail how the transfer of data will be accomplished without sacrificing business continuity. As mentioned previously, certain legacy applications may require re-engineering to work properly in the cloud environment.

Insufficient preplanning and the lack of proper technical expertise can have disastrous results, so it is important to research your cloud host and engage the right integration partner. The right partnerships will mitigate challenges and risk that could arise during the migration and execution process, offer ongoing support in evaluating the result, and optimize your applications moving forward.

This blog is intended to be one of a series of blogs on cloud vs. on-premises physical security systems. If you’d like a full guide to cloud-based physical security system hosting and management, download our whitepaper here.