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The Ultimate Guide to Cloud-Based Access Control

Organizations are rapidly moving away from traditional physical access control systems and toward cloud-based access control systems. In this post, we will define cloud-based access control, discuss the basics of how it works, outline the reasons why it is a better option than traditional access control, and compare key features of both systems.

What is Cloud-Based Access Control?

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, and on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources without any user interaction. Cloud-based access control is a physical security system that leverages the cloud to provide a better user experience on the back end for getting in and out of your buildings.

This technology solution enables companies to manage their security system from a single centralized location, thereby reducing the need for additional resources. It also enables security teams to remotely manage their physical security functions, such as door access, while receiving real-time video verification alarms and events.  

How Does Cloud-Based Access Control Work?

Cloud-based access control removes the need for onsite server and compute resources. Teams can use cloud-based security to grant or deny access remotely, set up time limits for certain entries, create different access levels for users, and even receive alerts when someone is trying to gain unauthorized access.


Authentication methods are used to verify the identity of the user. This can include biometrics, key cards, mobile credentials, or a combination. Access control systems that use biometrics employ face, fingerprint, or iris recognition technology to identify users, while mobile credentials leverage smartphones to hold a badge required for entry.


Security teams can create access control rules to define the level of access each user has. In a commercial building, for example, security teams may want to limit the access of tenants to the specific floors they reside or operate on.


When security teams log in, there’s a live dashboard to monitor events and alarms on buildings and campuses. From the management portal, users can typically issue mobile credentials and/or physical badges.

If security teams have integrated video, they're able to see a live video feed of cameras deployed on-site. They're also able to interact with the readers and they can send out temp unlock commands. The system also provides a variety of reporting options so teams can monitor who has accessed their premises and at what times.

How to Update to Cloud-Based Access Control

When security teams are ready to make the switch to cloud-based access control, it’s important to research different providers and weigh the pros and cons of each one. Once a provider has been selected, it is important to develop a migration plan. The plan should include inventorying existing hardware and software, developing an installation timeline, budgeting for new equipment and installation costs, and training employees on how to use the new system.

Cloud-Based Access Control VS. Traditional Access Control

Cloud-based access control systems offer several advantages over traditional systems, including lower upfront costs, ease of use, and remote monitoring capabilities. However, it’s important to consider all factors when deciding which type of system is best for the business. 


Cloud-based access control systems usually require lower upfront costs than traditional systems. Security teams won’t need to invest in additional hardware or software every time updates are needed. It’s important to note that up to 90% of the costs of a new system can be hardware and installation costs. Security teams should consider open and non-proprietary hardware that prevents them from being locked into a single cloud provider.

User Experience

Cloud-based access control systems from LenelS2 come with an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for staff to use. Traditional systems can be more difficult to learn and may require more training for staff members. 

Remote Monitoring

With a cloud-based access control system, teams can easily monitor the security of their sites remotely, as well as quickly add or remove users from anywhere in the world. This is not easily accomplished with a traditional system. 


Legacy systems have cybersecurity vulnerabilities that often aren't disclosed, since the risk belongs to the building, instead of the creator of the system. With disruptions in the supply chain and the difficulty in hiring qualified personnel, these security risks increase with traditional systems, since they are difficult to address. Most native cloud offerings, such as the LenelS2™ Elements™ solution, are built with cybersecurity principles by design.

Centralized Location

Legacy systems often have systems centralized in one place, which can pose problems if something were to happen to that building, such as a hurricane or other severe form of weather. Cloud-based services offer additional protection since the system cannot be destroyed by severe weather or something happening to one building.

Why Move to Cloud-Based Access Control?

There are several reasons why teams should consider moving to the cloud. The main benefits of cloud-based access control include improved scalability and flexibility, enhanced security, cost savings, and easier management.

Unified Security

Cloud-based access control provides unified security across information feeds, allowing teams to manage all of their sites from one central system. This makes it easier to keep track of who is coming and going at each location and allows security teams to enforce consistent policies across the board. In addition, the ability to integrate video surveillance into one screen improves both access and control. 

Scalable & Flexible

A cloud-based access control system is easily scalable. It is designed to meet the needs of businesses of any size, even if companies or landlords have multiple locations.

They also address common business challenges in the new hybrid work economy. Cloud-based access control systems allow for remote monitoring which provides added flexibility in managing your security infrastructure. Administrators have all the power and flexibility of the system at the home office as they do in the corporate office.

Ease of Use

Cloud-based access control systems are easy to use, making it simple for teams to investigate events and alarms across multiple areas.


Cloud-based access control systems can easily integrate with other systems such as video surveillance, alarm systems, and elevators. Through these integrations, security teams can connect all of the relevant information to get a complete picture of what's happening at the site.

Cost-Effective & Less Maintenance

The value of any system comes from its use of it and not its maintenance of it. With cloud-based solutions, teams are paying to use the product, without needing the additional internal resources to ensure the system runs smoothly. Cloud-based systems can receive updates automatically without needing to be manually replaced. In an age, where digital threats are a threat to your physical security system, it’s important that these updates can be made in a cost-effective and fast manner, to keep your buildings, tenants, and staff safe.

Risk Reduction

Cloud-based access control systems can reduce risk by offloading cybersecurity threads to the cloud provider. Any breaches become the problem of the provider and not the business. Risks are also getting more complicated, so offloading to a team of dedicated experts is a huge benefit. 

These controls also offer an additional layer of security since all data remains encrypted in the cloud. This prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to sensitive information stored onsite. In addition, cloud-based access control systems provide more accurate user authentication since biometric data can be used to identify users. 

Key Features of Cloud-Based Access Control

When selecting a cloud-based access control system, there are several key features you should look for. 


A good cloud-based access control system will have the ability to integrate with other systems such as video surveillance, alarm systems, and more. This allows teams to get a comprehensive view of site security and easily monitor for potential threats. 

User Management

You’ll want an access control system that allows you to easily add and remove users, assign different levels of access privileges and set up user groups. The ability to quickly manage users is essential in keeping your system secure and compliant with data privacy regulations. 

Non-proprietary, Open Hardware

The biggest cost when purchasing an access control system is installing related hardware. If your team is unhappy with a solution, most of the investment is lost in the installation process. However, LenelS2 uses non-proprietary, open hardware, which can help protect your initial investment.

Real-Time Alerts

Look for a cloud-based access control system that provides real-time alerts. This way, you can be notified immediately if there’s a breach or unauthorized physical access attempt. 

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication is becoming increasingly popular with cloud-based access control systems. Biometric data such as fingerprints and facial recognition can be used to accurately identify users and add an extra layer of security to your system.

Visitor Management

Visitor management capabilities are an important feature to consider when investing in access control. Guest Pass from LenelS2 allows users to give temporary access to someone visiting a site without having to issue them a physical badge or a mobile credential. It works very seamlessly with access granted via any device that can connect to a browser. So, for example, teams could grant one-time access to a delivery person if there is a package being sent to a tenant.

Cloud-Based Access Control Challenges

No technology is perfect and cloud-based access control systems come with certain challenges that should also be taken into consideration before making the switch. 

Privacy & Security

Privacy and security are always top concerns when it comes to accessing sensitive data stored in the cloud. You’ll want to make sure that you select a cloud-based access control system that utilizes encryption and provides the highest level of security. 


As with any technology, there can potentially be a lack of knowledge about cloud-based access control systems among your staff. You’ll need to provide training to ensure that everyone is familiar with how the system works and understands the importance of data privacy, and how to properly manage the solution.

LenelS2 Cloud-Based Access Control Solutions 

LenelS2 offers the Elements solution, a comprehensive, intuitive, and unified cloud-based access control and video management solution built just for the cloud. Well-suited for deployments of any size, Elements is also device-agnostic, meaning it can be accessed through any device that can connect to the internet. 

The Elements solution was built with “Privacy by Design” security principles and is secured through end-to-end encryption. Users can be assured that all connections between the Elements Gateway and the cloud us industry-standard encryption and, since all traffic is initiated from on-site devices, no inbound ports need to be opened in your network security firewall.

If you're interested in learning more, be sure to request a demo for a personalized needs assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cloud-Based Access Control

Data stored in the cloud is considered very secure if you use a reputable provider. The data is usually encrypted and stored on secure servers. However, it's important to make sure that you choose a provider with the proper security measures. LenelS2 is GDPR compliant and offers cloud-based solutions that were designed with privacy in mind.

Cloud-based access control is becoming increasingly popular across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, education, real estate, transportation, and more. Businesses are drawn to the cost savings, ease of use, and remote monitoring capabilities that these access control systems offer. 

The best access control system for your business will depend on a variety of factors, such as size, budget, and security needs. It's important to evaluate all your options and consider features, challenges, and costs associated with each system before making a final decision.

Cloud-based access control systems are different from traditional systems in several ways. Ease of use is a huge part. Newer systems are designed to be intuitive. Cloud-based systems are also constantly upgraded automatically and managed by the manufacturer, whereas on-premises systems can go six months to a year between upgrades or releases through a more manual process.

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