IT/Networking: Storage Wars!

Here's our update on DVRs, NVRs, clouds and virtual storage

Caswell: “Let’s be careful not to confuse virtual storage and servers with cloud-based storage and servers. Virtual storage is applicable to all but the smallest installations today. Cloud has the highest appeal for the consumer market where there are few cameras, small retention times and frankly, less at stake from a loss or security standpoint. Virtual servers and storage are here today. They do not change the security controls of a video installation but simply reduce the cost and complexity of the infrastructure required to store video. Cloud is completely different in the sense that this requires matching the security profile of the user and the bandwidth needs of the installation to the use of a wide area network (WAN) pipe. The Internet WAN is many times slower than is required for full-motion video capture as any YouTube user knows. So while the prospect of recording in the cloud sounds appealing, it introduces performance and security concerns about unauthorized access and distribution. A virtual server is simply the idea that recording can happen in the storage that is already being purchased for the video environment. Why buy an NVR server when the function is already available in the storage appliance? Similarly, a virtual SAN is simply the prospect that high availability and high performance can be delivered through software using cost-effective appliances that don’t rely on proprietary storage networks and hardware like Fibre Channel.”

DeFina: “With virtual storage there is an expense above and beyond on-site storage. Virtual storage is a more complicated configuration. As with any new technology, knowledge is power in getting ahead. Partnering with a company that is ahead of the trend or on that wave is a great resource to building the base you will need to infiltrate the market. Ask if the storage is really unlimited. Storage can be unlimited but it comes down to how much you willing to pay not just on the storage but the price of outside management, online power consumption, bandwidth and support.”

Folsom: “Renting rack space in a central office is going the way of the Dodo bird. It’s about connectivity. Here in Las Vegas we are awash in bandwidth. But I realize different areas of the country have different levels of connectivity. In addition, we are seeing a reduction in the cost of remotely stored video.”

Renkis: “I do not see the camera going straight to the cloud today. Some day that will be the case as the pipelines get bigger. Then we can do more storage in the cloud.”

Strange: “Virtual storage is still storage, just in a different physical location. Our email, banking info, stock trading accounts, pictures—all of it is stored in a virtual environment. Integrators need to be able to explain cloud/hosted video versus cloud backup with the difference that one is always uploaded and available on the cloud where the other keeps video locally until convenient to upload to a storage device. At ControlByNet, we want to make sure the integrator knows what the customer is really getting. Storage is unlimited and still one of the cheaper parts of the model. Bandwidth will always be the determining factor in price.”

Ze’evi: “Very few operations, except at the lower end, can take video to the cloud. The cost of bandwidth to send good video to the cloud, the cost of the link, and the cost of storage in the cloud all are high.”


Q. What’s the best scenario/application to install a DVR versus NVR?

DeFina: “Many vertical markets are investigating a migration to IP/NVR solutions but due to price constraints overall, many continue to standardize on analog DVR products. We see vertical markets such as retail, financial and correctional are well behind in converting over to digital NVR type systems. New construction has predominantly moved over to a full digital solution when specifying and developing their system.”

Folsom: “Your average salesperson understands the IT environment. All techs know networking. So, for a small business customer, the tech has to go in and open router ports. A mid-sized company will have IT staff and can open ports and allow devices on the network. On the high end, they don’t want you on their network so you might have to establish a secondary network.”

Strange: “The DVR model is still a great sell at four, eight or 16 cameras. That is attractive to small businesses in that the camera counts are decided and the DVR supports just that number of cameras. Beyond those numbers it may make sense to move to a software-based solution that can grow as needed through licensing and can increase capacity without adding another piece of hardware.”

Ze’evi: “Put it where it works for the customer and their IT department. It will be different if it is a single guy or a group. If their corporate network can support a VLAN, do it. If it requires a dedicated network, do that.”


Q. What kinds of innovation will we see in the near future?

Caswell: “I’m very excited about the application of solid state to video surveillance. Spinning disks will be important for years to come because of the inherent cost advantage but we will see solid state applied to storage systems for performance and into edge cameras for local recording.”

DeFina: “We believe the next step in DVR/NVR technology is upgradable apps similar to the cellular phone market. These apps would include incremental features that can be introduced after the sale of the unit which will be able to increase the feature of the product without having to buy a new unit.”