Hosted Video: Safe and Sound

Is the cloud ready for video surveillance


With all the talk about the cloud today, it's hard to make it through the day without getting barraged with cloud chatter. Everything from e-mail to payroll services leverage the power of the cloud and why not? The cloud and its hosting providers offer cost savings, ease of use and flexibility to change the way we run applications-at home, in the home office and on the enterprise. Most of this functionality, however, is relatively lightweight in terms of bandwidth usage and network impact and have thus gained the favor of most IT groups.

Now enter video surveillance, by all accounts a heavy consumer of bandwidth. The question is: How realistic is it to move video surveillance to the cloud? Is video surveillance ready for the cloud? Or maybe better said for most integrators: Is the cloud ready for video surveillance?

While storage and bandwidth providers are enamored with the fact that video-one of the most bandwidth intensive applications-is hungry for transport and storage, the average security director or business owner will certainly have questions about the viability of this solution, especially those with a history of analog use.

As your partners and competitors talk more to the security end-user about the notion of cloud-based video surveillance options, there will be many factors to explain and consider ranging from what hardware to choose, which provider to use for service and all things in between. During this discovery process there will be some commonly held misconceptions about cloud-based video storage and video surveillance as a service offering. While these concerns seem credible on the surface, once you drill down and do your homework, these misconceptions can be very easily overcome.

Is it really ready for use?

One of the most commonly held beliefs about hosted video is that it is not mature enough to stand up to the rigors of today's physical security demands. There will always be resistance to any new technology introduced into a mature market, especially one that deals in safety and security. Many software applications and systems have migrated to the cloud already, specifically in our industry with the proliferation of hosted and managed access control and network-based alarm monitoring.

The technology itself is not the issue, especially as consumers use it daily to stream TV and movies, bank online and send social security information. Rather, how much information can practically be transmitted over the security network is what might come into question. Access control and alarm monitoring systems have proven mature platforms that confirm the viability of network-based functionality. Hosted video is no different with the exception of throughput requirements, which has been addressed with bandwidth-economizing compression technology.

Since video content is being sent out over the Internet, bandwidth usage will always be an issue. However, it's a commonly held misconception that video content is too consumptive to effectively be transmitted over the Internet. With the introduction of more efficient compression methods-namely H.264-systems are able to transmit video quality today that's better than 4CIF resolution over a dedicated T1 line without any significant lag issues. Even some of your customers with in-house recording and storage solutions record video at nominally low frame rates and resolution to save on internal storage, so the quality of hosted video is comparable and still better than analog. In addition, bandwidth capabilities and compression standards will continue to improve, which means the amount of data that's able to be sent over the network will increase as well.

Is my data safe?

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