Video storage confronts real-world challenges

Sept. 6, 2017
Users require flexibility to manage myriad scenarios to capture, store, share and retrieve content

Video surveillance can create one of the most challenging workloads for any storage system. When all of the variables are taken into account—number of camera channel streams, type of video format, frame rate, video compression, and length of the recordings—the amount of data can quickly become unwieldy. Factor in the number of days, weeks, or years the content must be retained and the data management problem is considerable. Finally, add the need to manage, analyze, and search through thousands, and possibly, hundreds of thousands of files for retrieval, and you have a challenge that can overload most appliance and IT-based storage solutions.

A robust storage system is essential for anyone who needs to capture, store, share, and retrieve video content with high bit rates and frame sizes, and now video surveillance implementations are benefiting from the performance and value it provides. In fact, video is a unique data type, and incoming video should be treated in a specific way that optimizes the dataset for video applications—making the entire process faster and more efficient.

A file system designed specifically for video applications has an edge delivering high performance and advanced management of large, data-intensive workloads common to video surveillance environments. The newest file system technology includes some features that can be particularly valuable to the video surveillance community. New workflow enhancements that are designed to fit within existing ecosystem applications and tools engineered to handle more complex streaming workloads are more capable of handling the workloads generated by the latest high-resolution cameras and sensors.

Some of the capabilities systems integrators and end-users should look for in a modern storage platform include:

  • Continuous content synchronization can create a replica of a source file system, directory, or individual file onto another local or remote file system. The ability to create copies of surveillance data to provide an off-site copy of video content for data protection or distribution—and maintain continuous and efficient synchronization through metadata monitoring—has the added benefit of protecting data from malicious acts. This feature also can provide multiple “versions” if files are modified, and some systems can be configured to run as frequently as every minute, providing a very short window before the file is replicated.
  • Multi-site shared archive enables distributed, collaborative workflows, creating “stubs” to remotely archived files and using S3-based object store repositories. For environments where many geographically distributed users need access to the same content, users can access a cloud copy without replicating the data to each location.  Only necessary content is downloaded to the local system. This is advantageous in situations when there is limited network bandwidth between sites that must maintain access to all of the content.
  • Client-based “Quality of Service” (QoS) enables bandwidth throttling, to specify the maximum bandwidth permitted for a client. In addition, bandwidth reservation guarantees throughput for one client while limiting bandwidth for others. Within a security environment, there are multiple scenarios where this is a benefit.  For example, ingest of real-time video from the cameras has different performance requirements than playback of previously recorded data. Client-based QoS can set up different systems to provide the appropriate level of performance for their function, ensuring that the most critical ingest always has priority over other functions.
  • Online stripe group management provides non-disruptive storage scaling with auto redistribution. As surveillance system requirements evolve, this capability enables a storage infrastructure to change as well—without disrupting ingest and other functions.  Additional capacity and bandwidth can be added to an active file system to meet increased retention or performance requirements.
  • File system auditing provides an activity trail of “what, when, and who” made changes to file metadata and the contents of the file itself. In a security environment, the ability to determine all the “touch-points” for a file can be very important, for investigative purposes as well as to preserve chain of custody for video content.  This feature provides a higher level of insight into the activity within a file system.
  • Tier copy management allows administrators flexibility to manage the storage tier in which data resides much more effectively, and also choose the storage platform–including cloud—from which data will be retrieved.  Previously, all tiers were treated the same from a retention standpoint, and retrieval always came from the first copy regardless of the storage platform.  Making a copy on each tier at the time of ingest frees up space on both the primary and secondary tiers, not just the primary tier as before. Administrators can specify how long data resides on a particular storage tier— for example, they may want to keep data on primary storage for 30 days, tape for one year, and in the cloud for three years, and which tier they want to retrieve the file from first based on cost or performance considerations.

These capabilities enable collaboration on a global scale while delivering the performance and management needed for surveillance storage environments as they grow.

About the Author:

Wayne Arvidson is Vice President, Intelligence, Surveillance & Security Solutions, at Quantum Corporation. A seasoned global marketing, product management, and business development executive, Wayne has over 25 years senior management experience in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 firms and drives Quantum’s strategy in the intelligence and security market. He is an expert on best storage practices for video surveillance, and is helping to drive industry transformation by educating the market on the role storage can play as the foundation of a security infrastructure. Wayne has been published in numerous industry publications and is a regular speaker at industry events. He also sits on the Security Industry Association’s Government Affairs Committee, Working Groups on Body-Worn Video Technology and Homeland Security.