Migration to the cloud is an increasingly prevalent and irreversible trend in commercial video surveillance, particularly here in the San Francisco Bay Area. When compared to the conventional NVR architecture, the cloud is much more flexible, cost-effective, and scalable. Most business end users should consider — if not immediately implement — migrating their video surveillance to the cloud.
Consider the following facts as you are considering this type of strategic shift of your company’s security infrastructure. According to TechJury, 85 percent of businesses worldwide are already making use of cloud technology to store information. In addition, 67 percent of enterprise infrastructure has become cloud-based in 2020, and 94 percent of the internet’s workload will be processed in the cloud by 2021.
It is clear that many end users have migrated most of their business operations to the cloud. So, why not security and video surveillance as well? In fact, the numbers show that many companies are already doing this. According to Security 101 partner Eagle Eye Networks, the video surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS) market has reached $1.8 billion by 2020 and is expected to grow at an 18 percent clip through 2024. The figures provide strong evidence that VSaaS is future of commercial video surveillance.
We believe most business customers, particularly small and mid-market companies, should switch to cloud, if they have not done so already. There are also surprising benefits for larger enterprises to consider this strategy as well, some of which we will discuss in this article. Below outline three key reasons why cloud-based video surveillance / VSaaS is best choice for most businesses in the U.S.
Reason 1: Flexibility and Scalability in an OPEX model
Do you have a budget and the technical expertise - whether outsourced to a security integrator like Security 101 or in-house - to purchase and deploy NVRs, servers, and other necessary onsite video surveillance equipment? This cost can be quite significant for many companies. This is not a challenge with a cloud-based solution, which shifts users to an OPEX model that ensures the kind of financial flexibility not possible in the traditional NVR architecture.
The recurring expense of a cloud-based video surveillance solution helps to ensure that an end user is paying only for what they need and use, when they need to use it. It also enables a business customer to add or remove devices on their network, without having to factor in additional client licenses, servers, and load balancing. It is also quite easy to replace aging, existing cameras with the latest technology from many leading video surveillance camera manufacturers.
The total cost of setting up video surveillance is also significantly reduced when a company leverages the cloud. This is especially the case for enterprises with multiple locations. If you manage an enterprise with dozens or even hundreds of locations, an on-premise solution requires the deployment and maintenance of both hardware and software at each location. In a multi-location enterprise with many locations, the benefits of a cloud (VSaaS) architecture can offer a very compelling business proposition – both operationally and financially.
Reason 2: Remote monitoring access from virtually anywhere
VSaaS eliminates - and largely improves upon - a traditional NVR architecture. Essentially, VSaaS allows video data to be monitored from virtually anywhere, even on a smartphone or tablet. Remote management is also allowed, whereby the cameras can be configured, updated, or maintained over the air, reducing the frequency (and related expenditures) of site visits. This clearly results in a lower cost of ownership over time, another benefit of cloud-based solutions versus a more traditional, on premise NVR.
The remote monitoring capability of cloud has been especially useful during and after the pandemic, which has left millions across the globe to work from home. When the pandemic forced office closures and everyone except essential workers was working from home, operations and security managers with VSaaS systems installed could still fully monitor their cameras and manage access to buildings without having to be on-premise in SOCs or a dedicated security facility.
The adoption of cloud-based surveillance has increased noticeably through the many months of the pandemic. We attribute this to the deeper realization of the benefits of the cloud infrastructure, especially for enterprises requiring multiple site surveillance. A cloud-based video surveillance strategy fits nicely into a remote work scenario, in which both employees and security guards work from home. Cloud is also popular due to the ability to solve the shortcomings of regular local VMS and NVRs like higher security, reliability, and accessibility.
Reason 3: Accessibility to more evolving video analytics
Obviously, video analytics are needed by more and more corporate users to meet their changing business requirements. Cloud allows users to access almost an almost infinite number of analytics which are otherwise too expensive and too resource-intensive to be run on NVRs. The cloud allows users to utilize analytics that they need and for the length of period that they need it for.
A cloud-based video surveillance solution essentially provides a company with elastic processing capability, so it always has the processing power needed. The end user can purchase the analytics they need, for the video streams in which they need them, for the period they need them. In essence, you are “renting” analytic capability. As such, if the user wanted to deploy an analytic for a short period of time (for example, deploying a people counting analytic for a large corporate event) the user could purchase that capability for that time from the analytic vendor. There are thousands of cloud-based video analytics available from a wide range of vendors. Security 101 often manages this type of deployment on behalf of our customers, bundling cloud-based analytics for the user and adding it to their regular monthly or quarterly recurring cost. Alternatively, an end user could choose to find and deploy analytics to meet their specific requirements once a cloud-based system has been installed and programmed.
In the end, VSaaS allows the user to access a wide range of analytics to extend their video surveillance usability. Migrating to the cloud can facilitate rapid improvements in AI and machine learning for video analytics that bring intelligence and actionable insights to video surveillance. The real-time data and communication of VSaaS moves the security industry from passive evidence collection to a more proactive security model, which is a huge step toward more effective, scalable business security operations.
Arguments against cloud, and important counterpoints
No, cloud-based video surveillance (or VSaaS) is not perfect. But in the end, the cloud’s many benefits outweigh its drawbacks. Below we review a couple of key arguments against moving video surveillance to cloud and see how certain challenges with cloud can be easily addressed by an IT or Facilities team.
Argument 1: Implementing a Cloud model for video surveillance locks end users into a long-term, potentially subpar user experience.
This can in fact happen with certain proprietary cloud-based video surveillance providers, which manufacture and sell cameras that can become unusable “bricks” should the end user choose to “churn” or leave the service provider. This will not be a challenge if a customer chooses an open-platform cloud provider, many of which Security 101 represents in the marketplace. Our recommended cloud-based solutions connect all ONVIF-protocol streaming devices, providing the flexibility to connect to an existing installed base of cameras and add new IP cameras as needed.
Argument 2: The Cloud is not secure, especially after a well-publicized “hack” at a high-profile video camera manufacturer and cloud provider
This is again more of a problem for VSaaS providers using proprietary hardware. Once hackers gain access to a central point, they gain access to the entire network of cameras. And again, choosing an open platform VSaaS provider is the correct way to minimize risk. By going with a VSaaS vendor that is open platform, that risk is almost entirely mitigated, as every connected video device is different. Even if someone were able to hack into one camera, that would not enable them to hack into other cameras. Further, if there is an on-premise gateway separating the cameras from direct connection to the internet, that gateway acts as a secure firewall, preventing cameras from being accessed from outside.
Cloud-based surveillance providers are leveraging the security services of the major public cloud providers like AWS, Google, or Azure. The level of cybersecurity expertise of public cloud providers is unmatched. Using end-to-end encryption for video and metadata, 2-factor authentication and alerts are all considered best practices for any company implementing VSaaS.
VSaaS offers various benefits. It allows remote monitoring of company locations, employees, and assets from virtually anywhere. It ensures unlimited scalability and flexibility and allows users to access a wide range of analytics that are constantly being enhanced over the air. These benefits are compelling reasons for end users to make the switch today to a cloud-based video surveillance solution today. Like it or not, cloud is the future, and it is time for commercial end users to embrace the future when it comes to cloud-based security solutions.
Rob Chamberlin is the founder and President of Security 101 – San Francisco Bay Area & Sacramento. Security 101 offers a full range of commercial security professional services to its business customers and helps to protect its client's people, ...