I recently had the opportunity to meet with two of our leading certified solution providers who specialize in the retail quick service restaurant (QSR) market. Among the many topics we discussed was the adoption of cloud-based video surveillance solutions. We both agreed that while this is an approach with great future potential, right now, not everyone may be ready to store video in the cloud, depending upon their application.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why:
The storage and or management of surveillance video in the cloud is often referred to as Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS). VSaaS solutions have been around for some time, offering what many see as hassle-free software maintenance and support for their surveillance system.
But as cloud technology evolves, some providers are now promoting solutions that favor the wholesale storage of video in the cloud. This can sound like an exciting alternative to local video storage, with promises of better security and lower costs.
But, as my colleagues and I discussed, depending upon the size of your business, and the IT infrastructure you have in place, some cloud-based solutions can actually be more expensive. They also may not offer traditional functionalities to manage both small and enterprise-class video surveillance systems. It’s important to learn the pros and cons of any cloud-based solution and have realistic expectations about what these solutions can offer.
Bandwidth is the Biggest Challenge
To start with, streaming video to the cloud requires a significant amount of bandwidth – more than most businesses typically have. If your business is large in size or number of locations, and you’re deploying high-definition (HD) or multi-megapixel IP cameras, a cloud-based solution may not actually be feasible.
I know of one retailer who wanted to migrate from all analog cameras to HD IP cameras. But after replacing all their analog cameras with newer IP cameras, they could no longer access their video remotely! They just didn’t have the bandwidth to transmit the high-res images. They actually had to uninstall their IP cameras and revert back to analog.
This is an extreme example, but one that underscores my point: large enterprises need adequate bandwidth to stream video outside a location for viewing or storage in the cloud.
Just do the math: a single retail location with 16 IP cameras (all capturing HD 1080p video at an average rate of 10 images per second) would require a total upload speed of approximately 32 Mb/s to push its surveillance images to cloud. Most businesses just don’t have that type of bandwidth available. Additional bandwidth can be purchased, but it’s going to come at a cost. Also, businesses should ask themselves if they really want to risk using the majority of their network to stream video? IP video files are large, and require a lot of resources to upload. It’s not practical to dedicate your entire corporate network to video transmission, since many other critical applications (transaction data, etc.) also require resources.
Other Key Considerations
There are other important things to consider when looking to the cloud for video surveillance. Once the video gets to the cloud, there is storage costs associated with it. I always recommend reading and understanding how a cloud provider’s fees/rates are calculated, and being aware of additional fees for exceeding uploading/storage limits.
If you’re considering a cloud-based video solution, you’ll also want to investigate its security (where is your video being stored?) and accessibility (what happens if your Internet goes down?)
To help you learn more, March Networks has produced a new whitepaper titled,
Is the Cloud Ready? In it, we examine these important issues, and the key questions organizations should ask before moving their video surveillance system to the cloud. The paper provides case study examples and a convenient checklist of questions businesses can use.
Without a doubt, cloud-based video surveillance solutions are an attractive sounding alternative to today’s traditional video management solutions. But until technology evolves to help address the bandwidth barrier – and the higher costs associated with it – cloud-based solutions won’t be practical for everyone.
What’s your take? Give us your feedback or ask a question below.