Atteberry: I would say that the key to a successful implementation is ensuring that all of the end users' business needs have been identified up front and verify that a hosted video solution is the right answer for them. They need to understand and communicate their business goals and budgetary requirements. This allows the provider to conduct a thorough review, including equipment and technical requirements of network infrastructure to ensure the proper devices are in place.
Snow: Bandwidth requirements are certainly something to be aware of. End users must be able to get appropriate, affordable bandwidth in order to take advantage of hosted video solutions. Additionally end users should make sure that the video hosting provider is properly securing their data. Standards such as SAS70 or ISO 27001 should be considered for their hosted video, however, the support levels, pricing and capabilities need to be considered as well.
Nilsson: You just brought up one key term: pricing. What types of pricing models are providers implementing today? How is this different than a traditional surveillance system?
Atteberry: Pricing models for hosted service tend to vary based on resolution and frames per second coupled with the length of storage for their video. Ultimately, a true solutions provider offers a hosted video solution to the customer as a sound financial business decision, turning upfront capital costs into ongoing operating expenses.
Snow: There are two types of pricing models that are being offered today. The first is a pay-for-use model where the end user pays for the storage they use on a gigabyte-per-month basis, plus a transfer fee (bandwidth). This is how traditional cloud storage services are sold.
Another alternative, which we believe is the better option, is fixed price per month, per camera. This allows the customer to know exactly how much their solution will cost per month and also allows for an easier way to compensate sales. There would be levels of pricing to cover the variety of requirements such as resolutions, frame rates, and retention times; however, this differs dramatically from traditional deployments which are usually based on hardware sales only.
Nilsson: I believe that once end users understand what hosted video solution entails and are comfortable with the pricing model, that we'll see an uptick in adoption. The technology is there, and the comfort level on the whole is getting close. That said, what do you think hosted video will look like in five years?
Snow: Bandwidth will continue to become more readily available and affordable allowing more and more users to benefit from hosted video solutions. The overall cost of cloud storage will continue to fall meaning the total cost of ownership will also continue to fall. The combination of the two will allow for more and more end users to be eligible for hosted video services. There will also be the increase in advanced services provided by hosted video providers such as video analytics, POS integrations and access control integrations.
Atteberry: Following Pat's last point, I foresee that hosted video will be combined with other technologies that are traditionally implemented through onsite servers and panels. This integration will give customers greater access to complex applications and sophisticated technologies, such as command and control or mass notification, all through a hosted environment.
Nilsson: Those are good insights, thank you. Do you have any final thoughts about the hosted video decision-making process?
Atteberry: Technology improvements in the world of physical security are enabling end users to have more advanced security, while lowering their overall cost. Hosted video applications are a great example of how companies are leveraging these improvements in technology to provide end users with the best solutions that meet their needs.
Snow: Clearly technology is changing the way we provide answers to everyday needs. Video surveillance hosting is only in its infancy and will continue to grow and become more and more viable for more and more end users. In the future, we will be surprised by the number of use cases that will emerge as hosted video solutions begin to deploy in larger and larger numbers. This will cause the industry to innovate at a much faster and larger scale than ever before.
About the author: Fredrik Nilsson is General Manager of the Americas for Axis Communications and author of the book Intelligent Network Video. He is a regular expert contributor on topics of networked video surveillance systems and cameras.