VMS firms see opportunity in the cloud

March 11, 2015
Migration to hosted services seen as inevitability for security applications

While leveraging the cloud for video surveillance and access control applications is certainly not a new phenomenon in the security industry, it is undoubtedly picking up adoption momentum across the market. The benefits offered by the cloud such as reduced infrastructure and system maintenance, virtually unlimited storage and lower energy consumption are hard to ignore for organizations. Still, there remain those who are highly skeptical about moving something as critical as video or access control offsite.

One company that is embracing the cloud as a large part of its strategy moving forward is Genetec. Specifically, Genetec is focused on offering a hybrid cloud solution that will enable customers to use as much or as little of the cloud as they want for their security infrastructure.

According to Christian Morin, vice president, cloud services at Genetec, some of things that are driving cloud adoption throughout the IT industry in general is that it makes implementing solutions across the enterprise easier and also provides an unprecedented level of flexibility and scalability. However, large portions of the security industry – both end users and systems integrators - are still largely unaware of how the cloud works.   

“Educating people is one of the biggest challenges as we’re moving to cloud because the security industry is somewhat behind when it comes to adopting some of the newer technologies,” said Morin.

As part of an effort to get around the inertia of their own IT departments, Pierre Racz, Genetec’s president, CEO and founder, said that many employees are already using the cloud in some way by essentially bypassing IT and purchasing cloud services on their own.   

“People whip out their credit cards. It is within their discretionary monthly spending budget and they are able to harness resources that they don’t have to wait for from the IT department,” explained Racz. “The IT department typically takes six to eight months to try to figure out what is the impact on their network of any new application you try to put up. Waiting eight months, the opportunity might have passed you by. In today’s society, the agile companies adopt the slogan, ‘ready, fire, aim,’ and this is what cloud lets us do.”

While some companies have expressed concerns over the potential for system downtime in the cloud, Racz said those worries are largely overblown and can be easily addressed.

“You will have network outages. For example, Microsoft’s uptime performance in their service-level agreement… if you do that math it roughly translates into four hours of downtime per year,” said Racz. “So, if you’re going to have a cloud solution, if you cannot tolerate four hours of video outage a year what you should do is you should have local recording of more than four hours. The solution to that is to have your software version of a UPS, which is a hybrid system. If you can record your video for more than four hours… then you will be able to handle most of the outages that you will get from your cloud. We can design around whatever reliability that you want.”

When it comes to cost, Morin said that people will often underestimate what it takes to maintain a piece of hardware and will simply write off the cloud as being cost prohibitive compared to buying their own equipment. What they neglect to factor in is what it cost them in manpower to actually implement and maintain that hardware overtime, which where the real value of the cloud comes into play.

“Many people make that mistake because they don’t appreciate what goes behind managing that little piece of hardware or that massive piece of hardware behind the scenes,” said Morin. “All of those personnel costs in managing hardware, people usually underestimate that or think that it’s free. The datacenter costs… you need almost as much electricity to power up your servers as you need to cool them.”

Because of these energy costs savings, Racz feels that enterprise organizations will be among the first to start making the migration to the cloud followed by small- to mid-sized businesses that see more benefit in redundancies provided by the cloud.   

However, Milestone Systems President and CEO Lars Thinggaard believes that the opposite is true and that SMBs will actually make the switch sooner than large-scale enterprises.

“Cloud is a great opportunity, particularly in the high-volume market and, as we go into enterprise sales in the next five to 10 years, it is evident that the cloud will be in our business as well,” said Thinggaard. “I think that basically, the scaling of enterprise video surveillance on the cloud at this point in time it is too big of a thing to do. You do not have the bandwidth available to do that on an enterprise level. The market is not ready yet and I say yet because there is a future for cloud in this industry.”

Regardless of which markets warm up to the cloud first, what is clear is that the cloud is going to be one of the biggest considerations that end users and integrators take into account for video installations moving forward.

“It’s very hard to find anyone who is a non-believer in the cloud, at least from the IT side,” said Thinggaard. “The IT people just say, ‘yeah, of course.’ If you go to an IBM or some of the other tech guys, all of them are talking about the cloud, but the market is not there yet because the infrastructure is not ready.” 

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief, SecurityInfoWatch.com

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.