If you’re a retail loss prevention executive, there’s a 99 percent chance you’re already working under a budget and are likely considering the best strategy to implement when it comes to the security technology of your company.

There are both short- and long-term budget considerations to keep in mind, specifically when reviewing capital and operational costs.

If you’re debating a technology change because of under-performance, end of life, cybersecurity concerns, or availability, the first decision you’ll need to make is choosing the right platform. The top criteria for selecting a new physical security platform should be hardware. Is it proprietary or open architecture? With proprietary systems, if your needs aren’t being met, you’ll need to buy new cameras, video recorders, or access and intrusion panels. Essentially you are locked in, and budgetary replacement costs will be steep.

Open architecture, by contrast, means peripheral hardware will work with a variety of security management software providers which support different hardware options, so if cost, performance, or availability become an issue, you can add or change with minimal expenditure.

If you’re moving to a new open architecture system for hardware or software management, there are multiple considerations you’ll want to evaluate in addition to the cost.  You’ll want to know how much, if any, of your current infrastructure will work with your new platform.

If you need to switch your access control (AC) platform, many existing card readers and some controller panels can be reused. However, if you have older AC systems, ensuring current card credentials are supported will be a primary consideration to minimise disruption to business continuity.

The same holds for the camera and video recording platform. Most open architecture platforms support hybrid configurations of both analog and IP cameras which means you can use high-resolution IP cameras where crucial video evidence is most likely required, while retaining analog cameras at lesser viewed locations until a budget is allocated.

Intrusion system replacement also needs to be considered is the older equipment isn’t supporting new monitoring requirements. It can either be brought in-house as part of the security operations centre (SOC) responsibility, or if your company has substantial false alarm response fines, or thieves have defeated systems, you’ll find the investment on newer, more accurate technologies can provide a return on investment (ROI) you can justify to a capital expenditure committee.

What’s involved in moving to a unified, open architecture platform?

Unified, open architecture software platforms that support video, intrusion, and access control as well as new hardware technologies are a sound long-term investment. From a budget standpoint, these software platforms can be consumed as an upfront perpetual license or as software-as-a-service (SaaS).

SaaS has a lower upfront deployment cost, it includes all future support and upgrades and your company IT department will already be familiar with it as it’s the common model for everything from operating systems to POS platforms.

SaaS costs are determined by the specific services provided along with the software. The most common are cloud related, however SaaS can be used in the acquisition of fully on-premise systems as well. Think of it like a leasing model where the new software platform can be acquired over multiple years. From a budget perspective, this allows large deployments to accelerate rather than being dependent on annual funded rollouts, and it usually falls under operational budget.

What about on-premise vs. the Cloud?

There are many variations in security cloud products and services and how they can be budgeted.  A few companies IT departments are already using their own cloud presence to host the security platform head end and manage on-premise video storage. That’s part of the flexibility of unified, open architecture software platforms. If bandwidth is available, they may even choose to stream the video back to centralised storage in their cloud. This eliminates on-prem recording hardware and the associated repair and replacement costs. Depending on your company’s long-term strategy this may be a roadmap item you’ll want to make sure any new platform you’re considering will support.

Another option to consider is third-party security cloud products. Just like SaaS, these offerings will be a contracted subscription over a defined annual term. The variations are the cost basis for these services. It’s important to understand these variations and ask the right questions based on your business objectives.

Cloud-managed or hosted video and access control services have burst on the scene over the last few years. Many are venture capital-backed start-ups with a recurring revenue risk management solution (RMS) business model. The draw of these services is reduced administrative management of the system. This typically includes things like system health and firmware updates. What it may not include are specific tie-ins to other programs like video to your intrusion or exception based reporting (EBR) platform that minimize investigation time. One absolute is they all require bandwidth and access to the internet, which will factor into the budget decision.

Combining an open architecture platform with certain cloud-managed features may be the right option to consider. Whether it’s a hosted enterprise head end, evidence management, long-term video retention, or global access control—the right platform choice should fill those needs within your budget.

George Moawad is country manager for Australia & New Zealand at Genetec.