Cloud-Managed Systems: A More Cost-Effective Way to Leverage the Cloud for Better Video Surveillance

Posted October 30, 2020 by Koorsen Fire & Security

Security Video Surveillance Cloud Management

Video surveillance technology has evolved rapidly since the advent of the Internet and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras. With the availability of new technologies that take advantage of the benefits that Cloud-computing offers, Cloud-based video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) systems are becoming an increasingly popular choice for businesses seeking to upgrade their traditional server-based video security systems.

VSaaS systems have a number of security benefits, particularly the ability to send alert notifications instantly in the event of a break-in or other potential security issue in progress. They have a number of cost-related benefits, including the ability to perform updates and troubleshoot the system remotely, reducing maintenance costs. They may also offer a lower initial investment, depending on the system you choose. 

Choosing the right type of VSaaS system for your business is key to getting the most value from these new technologies. This post will explore two types of video management systems that use the Cloud in different ways: 

  • Cloud recording systems in which the data captured by surveillance cameras are streamed directly to the cloud for processing, management, and storage 
  • Cloud-managed services, which leverage the benefits of the cloud and traditional systems in which the video captured on surveillance cameras is recorded, processed, and stored on-site while the cloud is used to streamline management and use of the system   

Cloud Recording Video Surveillance Systems

Traditional video surveillance systems rely on local area networks (LAN) for video processing and management. A local recording device is used with a traditional video surveillance system to process incoming video from surveillance cameras. Once processed, the video recordings may be stored locally or uploaded to the Cloud for storage.

In contrast, Cloud recording systems record directly to the Cloud via the Internet, streaming the video captured on surveillance cameras into the cloud for processing and storage. Cloud recording systems do include an on-site device in addition to cameras, but these devices function as a conduit to transfer the data from the cameras to the Cloud. They do not perform any video processing.    

While VSaaS systems offer many benefits compared to traditional video surveillance systems, with  Cloud recording VSaaS systems, bandwidth issues can affect their performance and make them a potentially costly option. This is because many internet service providers (ISPs) have limits in place to ensure sufficient and reliable bandwidth for all of their customers. Even if you are in a location with ISPs that provide good upload and download speeds, there may still be limits of how much data they can push through the network on a streaming basis. Exceeding those limits can potentially incur significant additional costs. 

Bandwidth speeds and accessibility will undoubtedly improve over time, which theoretically should reduce costs. However, camera technology is also improving. Cameras capable of capturing ever-higher resolution images will produce ever-larger streaming data loads, potentially offsetting bandwidth improvements, and any associated cost savings.  

The bandwidth issue must be evaluated within the context of the entirety of your organization's network needs because video surveillance systems can consume a substantial portion of the total available bandwidth available. Depending on the number and type of cameras you choose, to provide sufficient bandwidth to transmit your video data, even with buffering (limiting video streaming until a time when more bandwidth is available), you may have to throttle the network capacity available for other business-critical systems.  

While Cloud recording systems may seem attractive, research has shown that they are not the most cost-effective option due to bandwidth limitations coupled with the extreme resource requirements on video storage and network usage. 

When it comes to video storage, the current pay-as-you-go pricing model for Cloud services and the vast amounts of data that video surveillance systems produce -- particularly high-resolution IP-camera systems -- can prove more expensive in the long run than purchasing and deploying the hardware necessary for a traditional system. 

Cloud-Managed Services

Cloud-managed services combine the best of both traditional and cloud recording systems to provide a more cost-effective solution for video surveillance. Cloud-managed systems employ a video recorder locally and leverage local servers, eliminating the bandwidth issues associated with systems that record video directly to the Cloud. With these systems, the Cloud is used to provide streamlined and instant management of users.

One of the most significant benefits of a cloud-managed VSaaS is that it significantly reduces storage costs. Video (and especially high-definition video) demands much more bandwidth and storage than other types of data your business might store in the Cloud. Yet unlike other types of data, given the nature and purpose of video surveillance systems, the percentage of video that is viewed relative to the amount of video collected is very small. This is because, generally, only specific events will trigger follow-up action. 

The cost of Cloud storage adds up so quickly that using it to store video recordings can prove very costly in a short amount of time. Cloud-managed systems address this problem by combining local servers for storage and a Cloud-based video management system to optimize the management of your video assets. This approach can upgrade existing traditional systems by leveraging previous technology investments and eliminating the storage costs associated with a cloud recording VSaaS, providing a lower total cost of ownership.    

Remember, too, that on-site video recording storage requires no bandwidth. With a Cloud-managed system, you can still find and view your video recordings remotely. Still, the bandwidth required -- and the associated costs -- to upload individual videos from a local server for viewing is exponentially lower than that required to stream all your video data to the Cloud continually.

In addition to eliminating the bandwidth and storage issues, Cloud-managed VSaaS systems also eliminate performance and reliability concerns associated with a completely internet-reliant system. With a cloud recording system, a network outage will cut off access to your video feed and results in data loss as your system stops recording. Local video storage eliminates these concerns by providing local access to your video at all times and battery backups to ensure recording continues even if the network is down. 

Deciding How to Best Leverage the Benefits of the Cloud

While it certainly appears that cloud-managed systems provide the best value for most businesses in terms of their cost, performance, and reliability, every business will have its own unique needs and budget.

Storage and bandwidth are probably the most important factors to consider when deciding which type of VSaaS system will best suit your business's needs. Your requirements for both will depend on the combination of the following parameters: 

  • The number of cameras you need to ensure adequate surveillance
  • The number of frames per second and image resolution of your cameras 
  • The complexity of the image or area to be recorded, the lighting conditions, and the amount of motion, which will translate into the type of cameras you will need
  • The type of video compression the system will use (e.g., Motion JPEG, MPEG-4, or H.264)
  • Whether you need continuous or event-based recording
  • The number of hours per day you need to record
  • How long you need to store your data

If you are considering a new investment in a VSaaS system, Koorsen's security experts can help you design a system that leverages the Cloud to provide a video-surveillance system that keeps your customers, employees, and facility secure. Contact us today to get started! 

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Topics: Commercial Security, Small Business Security

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