Cloud vs. on-premise alarm management: Which is the right system for your Service Operations Center?

Before the rapid adoption of cloud-based systems, the world of security relied on physical technology to transmit and store a large amount of data. The on-premise system was the ultimate and paramount solution, deemed the most secure and robust design that service operations centers could rely on. But, the time has changed across all industries – especially the security industry.

As more and more alarms and events flow every day in panic rooms, efficiency is becoming a significant challenge for Service Operations Centers. Choosing the right tools to ensure future-proof business continuity is a crucial decision. So, cloud vs. on-premise security alarm management system: Which is the right system for your Service Operations Centers? Let's jump right in.

Making informed technology decisions for efficient security operations.

Today’s Service Operations Centers (SOC) can decide between cloud – or Software as a Service (SaaS) and on-premise solutions –for just about every element of their security operations, including servers, storage, updates, security, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and now alarm management platforms. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, but they also have several significant differences we’ve highlighted below to make informed decisions: 

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⁠Security

SOCs running their on-premises alarm management platform are responsible for setting appropriate user access policies, installing firewalls, integrations, and antivirus software, ensuring functioning security patches, and guarding against cyberattacks. This degree of flexibility and control has advantages but can also be a double-edged sword. For a SOC with appropriate IT resources and support, an on-premise solution gives confidence that data is always secured. On the other hand, if mismanaged and resources are not allocated, an on-premise solution can leave a service operation center vulnerable and inefficient in the long run.  

Cloud-based solutions can be seen as more secure because a provider with specialized expertise can manage the infrastructure in a centralized way. Most reputable cloud-based alarm management solutions run in secured data centers by companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which gives SOC additional security layers to protect data.

Budget 

On-premise solutions require in-house server hardware, software licenses, integration capabilities, and IT employees to manage and support potential problems, increasing the base investment and recurring costs.  

Cloud-based systems eliminate this cost challenge for security systems with a subscription fee for the platform (often monthly based). After installing a cloud-based platform, there is no need to worry about recurring maintenance activities and hardware upgrades because the provider handles all the data exchange and storage processes.  

Additionally, on-premise solutions are a capital expense (CapEx), whereas access to cloud platforms is an operational expense (OPEX). SOCs have greater flexibility and more opportunities to change their existing IT services than they would otherwise have with cloud-based solutions. Additionally, on-premise solutions are a capital expense (CapEx), whereas access to cloud platforms is operational (OPEX). On the other hand, on-premises technologies are considered capital expenditures (CapEx). The security business pays the total cost for the technology up-front, then the value reduces over time. Eventually, an on-premises server vs. cloud costs could equalize, as the lack of a monthly fee offsets the high upfront cost of on-premises platforms. However, maintenance and equipment replacement may end up adding ongoing costs for onsite systems, as the image below shows:

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Technology 

On-premise solutions can be updated as needed, but this requires resources allocations and lengthy, costly developments. Cloud-based alarm management platforms use digital technology to host data backed up regularly, and SOCs only pay for the resources they use. The ones that plan aggressive expansions globally will benefit from the cloud as it makes it easier to connect with partners, customers, and other third parties across the security chain.

One constant is that technology continuously moves forward. Today's technology can often be obsolete as soon as it's implemented – which is valid for on-premise solutions. With cloud solutions, SOCs always use the latest version of the innovations available for their security operations with no downtime during upgrades or releases. This way, cloud solutions are "future proof."

Uptime and availability 

Every service operations center wants maximum uptime to deliver their service to their clients. Assets and people are behind each incoming alarm. The essence of having a reliable alarm receiving system is to ensure that real-time monitoring is guaranteed. On-premise data remains in-house, so no internet connection is needed, and the data is always available. However, cloud-based platforms are likely to be more reliable as they are highly redundant and guarantee uptime. 

Scalability 

Scalability is an area where cloud-based platforms have a clear advantage. When SOCs with on-premise platforms experience a jump in connection needs, they have no choice but to invest in expensive new infrastructure and allocate IT resources. And, when the needs later decline to previous levels, they remain stuck with too much capacity.

The cloud is much more scalable without significant investment in new infrastructures or upgrades because the provider allocates resources to meet demands at any given moment. That means SOCs may choose to pay on an as-needed basis and effectively scale down or scale up their operations depending on the growth of their business and usage.

Efficiency 

A cloud-based platform is flexible and compliments all-inclusive alarm management systems. As an alarm receiving center, it is not enough to notify of an alarm (which most on-premise systems offer). It is also important to respond appropriately. Moreover, on-premise systems cannot be as mobile as cloud systems. Since an internet connection and a browser are the only requirements to access the data with a cloud system, this solution offers more efficiency.

Deployment and customization 

With an on-premise system, the deployment is done in-house using the SOC’s infrastructure and is highly customization (of course, with additional investments).  

Even though less customizable, cloud-based solutions are fully configurable, allowing service operation centers to be up and running in a short time.

Control 

An on-premise system allows complete control of privacy and data with all data in-house (for better or worse). Multiple professional control mechanisms ensure security and 24/7 accessibility in a cloud-based environment.

Cloud vs. on-premise alarm management system: One-size-fits-all solution?  

In the end, SOCs should explore available options ensuring the best solution for their unique needs while keeping in mind that any technology strategy requires an investment. When comparing cloud vs. on-premise platforms, it's essential to understand that it's an ongoing process that security professionals should manage.

Keeping all their data on-premise might "feel" more secure for most service operations centers. This level of security goes back to the ongoing debate and people's perception of the cloud. But in the age of digitalization and interconnectivity, that feeling of safety is archaic. When a SOC wants to use modern tools like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and process automation, choosing a cloud-based platform for its alarm management platform is the right decision.

Interested in learning more about cloud-based alarm management systems?

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