Security 101

What is Access Control?

The Components of Access Control Security

Access control system technology, as the name suggests, is a way for you to manage who has physical access to a specific space, whether that’s a room, a building, or a larger complex. 

Types of Access Control: On-site vs Cloud-Based 

Not that long ago, there was really only one type of access control system: on-site (aka “on premises” or “on prem”). Everything was installed and managed locally, including the server. But with the advent of cloud computing, that’s all changed, and cloud-based access control is becoming more and more common.  

So, which one is right for you? Let’s take a quick look. 

  Consider on-site if…  Consider cloud-based if… 


Your needs are stable and unlikely to change  You need to be ready to add features or expand the system 
Cost  You prefer to pay up front (CAPEX oriented)  You prefer to pay as you go (OPEX oriented) 
Resources  You prefer to maintain server(s) yourself  You prefer to outsource server management 
Security  You can manage security updates and disaster recovery yourself  You need help managing security updates and disaster recovery 

Learn more: The Advantages of Cloud Access Control 

Access Management Quick Start Guide

Here are some standard access security configurations for organizations of all sizes. Remember that customization is possible in almost any scenario, so it’s essential to work with an experience partner who will right-size your solution. 

How to Implement an Access Control System

As a critical part of your security, access control requires professional design and installation, even for small systems. Here are the main steps that you can expect.  

Access Control System Design

The design stage starts with a full understanding of your access control needs and how your access control solution will contribute to the health, safety and security of your employees, your customers, and your business. Key questions that should be answered during the design phase include:

  • What is the value of the assets behind the access control point? 

  • How many openings are being covered, and what kinds of doors or entryways are they? 

  • How many users will there be, and why kind of credentials will be used? What is the process for managing credentials going forward? 

  • What hardware and cabling are needed? Can existing equipment be reused or repurposed? How can disruption and cost be minimized? 

  • What integrations could help improve security or ease of use? 

  • What are the server requirements, and how will they be met (on site or on the cloud)? 

  • Who needs access to configuration and reports? 

  • What local and national codes must be addressed in the design?  

Access Control Installation 

Once your needs are clearly defined, the next stage is to install the equipment. A typical access control system for business or commercial applications requires the installation of a variety of electronic hardware components and cabling infrastructure. Depending upon the scale of the project, installation could take just a few days or extend over months in the case of a large system or new construction.  

Access control systems are complex with multiple technologies and hardware needing to work together as a single solution. It’s essential to partner with a security solution provider who can guide you through the process smoothly. 

person swiping access card up next to access control card reader

Access Control System Configuration 

Every user of the access control system will need to be managed. Access privileges are highly configurable. They can be set differently for different people, at different times of the day, and with special rules at some exits. The industry uses three standard models for thinking about how to assign and control credentials.

  • Discretionary access control (DAC): This is essentially an “open” system for managing credentials. Anyone with administrative privileges in the system can set or change credentials.

  • Role-based access control (RBAC): This model is a bit more restrictive. Access credentials are defined based on role, and administrators can only assign a user to a role – they can’t change the credentials within a role.

  • Mandatory access control (MAC): The strictest model, in which administrators have essentially no control over credentials. Typically, the job of assigning credentials is the exclusive responsibility of a senior security leader, such as a Chief Security Officer.

Talk with your provider about what will work best for your organization, and the right balance between flexibility and security.

Access Control Integrations

There are a range of integrations supported by modern access control systems, and it’s common to integrate with at least one of these other systems:

  • CCTV 

  • Intruder Detection

  • Fire Detection

  • HR database 

  • Time and Attendance

  • Workspace Management and Visitor Management

Since nearly every access control system installed now requires these integrations, it is important to select a knowledgeable partner.

Need More Help? Talk to One of Our Experts

We’re here to help you find the right access control solution that will deliver the security you need and the experience that your employees and customers expect.

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