Cloud computing and outsourcing is top of mind for every industry. But it’s especially an evolution in action for the video security industry as it moves to the hosted services model.
In order to understand video surveillance’s evolutionary move to hosted environments in specific applications or use cases, we need to define cloud computing. Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. (Source: NIST Working Definition of Cloud Computing published by the U.S. Government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.)
The most popular type of service is Software as a Service, delivered from the Public Cloud. We experience these service’s benefits in our daily lives with online banking, Gmail, shipment tracking and customer relationship manager solutions. The physical security industry now benefits from identity and visitor management and video surveillance, recording and processing services delivered from the public cloud.
Software as a Service (SaaS) positively impacted video surveillance by moving the software to a “hosted” or “managed” video portal. These services are delivered by video hosting service providers and deliver some significant advantages to certain video surveillance applications.
Here’s a common problem: there is a massive aging population of digital video recorders that are either partly or non-operational. Should the security practitioners and designers replace these systems with newer versions? Or can they save money by leveraging cloud computing security solutions, designed for multiple locations of small- to mid-sized installations? In fact, some of today’s hosted video solutions can work via video encoders and small network attached storage devices, eliminating the DVR.
Cost savings realized
The answer is that video hosting systems can deliver monitoring and recording via cloud computing (Software as a Service) and still use the latest camera technology to the end-user via hosting providers at a substantial cost savings. When compared with a replacement DVR system, the user can save over 10-50 percent for a four-year period, or up to $5,000 for a four-camera system. HDTV cameras have a higher bandwidth stream that is sent locally to a Network Attached Storage Device (NAS). The NAS is also there to record if the Internet connection goes down. Larger end-user facilities can deploy this on their own network and achieve even greater savings. Hosted video solutions represent a growing market as they are the lowest cost, technologically superior and easiest solution for video surveillance systems that are small and geographically dispersed. The user simply needs to decide whether to deploy the solution themselves or through service (hosting) providers. When a hosted video solution is used to replace aging DVRs, only about 25 percent of the labor costs are incurred as compared to a replacement DVR.
The future of video surveillance
It’s fun to imagine what will be useful to users of video surveillance systems in the future and of course hosted solutions will play a major role. Cameras that not only become intelligent by way of small programs or specialized algorithms will, when multiplied, become an intelligent “Security Net” or “Intelligent Hive” that communicates peer-to-peer, analyzing and tracking potential threats, dynamically reallocating collective computing power and learning from the results. The intelligence of years of metadata and event results will be proactive in providing the most appropriate response to a given situation.