Adoption of cloud-based security solutions at the crossroads

Many physical security pros still cautious about technology


Adopt, postpone or ignore? This is the age-old question physical security professionals ponder while being continuously exposed to new technologies in the management of their programs. Many technologies offer direct improvements, while others offer the simple organization and presentation of security data.

The decision to adopt standards, best practices and apply technologies that promise improved situation awareness is, at times, not enough. The program manager might decide to postpone migration or, worse yet, ignore, citing unbudgeted costs. Imagine if, however, the user’s response during crisis situations improves, and simply "faster" review of authenticated security media like forensic video is made a reality. This is a small view into the many applications available as managed services and virtualized infrastructure: the signature success of cloud solutions.

As an evolutionary progression of network accessible voice, data and media content, cloud computing adoption is not a question of if, but when. Having passed "early adoption," cloud computing has definitely "crossed the chasm," described by technology consultant and "Crossing the Chasm" author Geoffrey A. Moore. Solutions are described as moving from innovator, early adopter to early majority (see Figure 1). Customers across a range of industries and company sizes are moving beyond pilot projects and are beginning to use cloud computing for business-critical applications.

Spending in the cloud

Cloud computing will be a key driver of net new IT spending over the next five years as public cloud service providers and the adopters of private cloud environments invest in the supporting infrastructure. Overall spending by public cloud service providers on storage hardware, software, and professional services will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.6 percent from 2010 to 2015, while enterprise spending on storage for the private cloud will experience a CAGR of 28.9 percent, according to an IDC Research report published in October.

By 2015, combined spending for public and private cloud storage will be $22.6 billion worldwide.

EMC reports IT purchases of cloud solutions are replacing "conventional" network hardware, with the combined public and private cloud expenditures expected to be about half by 2015 (see Figure 2).

So, why the delay? What are the reasons for some physical security professionals and organizations to be cautious and delay adoption? The following come up most often:

• How secure is my data in the cloud?
• Where are my assets and who has access to them?
• Is cloud computing deployment success dependant on connectivity?

Security

One type of physical security application in the cloud uses network video cameras. Network video surveillance systems are comprised of “edge” devices like network cameras and encoders that produce video content and metadata, control, analysis, media search and content management, and storage and display components. Physical and logical infrastructure provides connectivity between categories and also conforms to useful standards like 802.1X, or port-based network access control. This ensures a user or device cannot make a full network connection until they are properly authenticated.

Many of today’s network video cameras are actually platforms or small computers, complete with solid-state storage and room for onboard security and video content analysis “apps,” as well as enhanced image processing.

An important process at these “non person entities” and edge devices are cryptographic algorithms to secure the video media, authenticate with a trusted authority, and permit consumers of the video/metadata stream to receive content via any device by having been authenticated in real time.

This structure offers vital resistance to intrusion exploits and distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) as the devices have achieved trusted identities.

Assets

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