As technology continues to evolve, more businesses are taking a serious look at hosted video surveillance solutions.
The convenience of hosted video, coupled with the fact that many other business applications are moving to the cloud, has made hosted surveillance a much more attractive option. In fact, the video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) market is expected to reach almost $6 Billion by 2022.
If your organization is considering a hosted solution, you may find the myriad options a bit overwhelming. Further complicating things is the fact that the term “hosted video” can be used interchangeably with “cloud video surveillance” or VSaaS, and these can actually encompass several types of solutions.
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll break things down in simple terms and categorize hosted solutions two ways: fully hosted and hybrid hosted.
But first, a little context:
Presently, the majority of businesses employ on-premises video surveillance, where video recording and management happen locally (on-site at your business), either with network video recorders (NVRs) or a video management system (VMS). Some businesses will use a third-party for the management of their video – for example, applying software updates, handling licensing and other types of device management. This is referred to as managed video services. But generally, both of these scenarios can be categorized as on-premises video surveillance.
Now, let’s look at hosted video. The main things to keep in mind here are where the video is stored (the infrastructure) and where it’s managed (the services involved with managing the video system). Since one or both are done off-site, these are hosted solutions.
Fully hosted video surveillance – In full VSaaS models, video is not stored in the same place where it’s captured by your cameras, but rather it’s streamed to a video provider or third-party company for both storage and management. Another term for this type of solution would be full cloud-based video surveillance.
While this model may sound attractive, given the many different business applications now moving to the cloud, the reality is that it requires a massive amount of bandwidth. If you are a multi-site business, and you are using high-definition IP cameras, you’ll need to be prepared for the cost associated with streaming and storing so much video in the cloud. (Check out this whitepaper for more detailed information).
Hybrid hosted solutions – With this type of model, video recording and storage happen on-site at your business, but video management is handled by a video manufacturer/provider, who hosts the central video server that manages your devices. Some providers may also offer backup storage of some of your video files.
This model gives you the benefits of on-premises video recording (safely storing your data on-site at your business and eliminating the need for a lot of streaming) with the benefits of managed video services. So all the day-to-day management of your NVRs and cameras is handled by your provider, saving you time and in some cases, hassle. You also don’t need to purchase and maintain your own server, so there’s less upfront cost.
A hybrid hosted solution could also involve some of your video being streamed to the cloud for analytics processing. For example, if you’re integrating your video with point-of-sale data for transaction analysis, or you’re using video analytics to gather business intelligence, some of your video and data may be streamed to a central server off-site. That server is managed by a provider, who delivers your data back to you in a formal report, so you can track business trends, better monitor your operations or investigate suspicious activity.
How do these options stack up?
In my opinion, full VSaaS solutions – where video is stored entirely off-site – might work for residential security, but they are not a cost-effective option for commercial businesses, at least not yet. This is due to the bandwidth constraints that businesses face with IP video. The bandwidth required to stream video from hundreds of IP cameras, and the risks associated with uploading all your video to the cloud, in my view, are too great to make full scale cloud video storage a feasible option for medium to large-size businesses right now. As compression technology evolves, and bandwidth become more affordable, full cloud-based solutions will likely become more viable.
For the time being, however, maintaining video recording on-premises is still the best option for enterprise organizations. But that doesn’t mean your business can’t take advantage of a hybrid hosted solution, which can present a variety of benefits in terms of time savings and cost efficiencies.
What are the benefits to my business?
Generally speaking, hybrid hosted solutions are best for businesses that don’t have a lot of in-house IT expertise. These businesses can benefit the most because they can rely on their provider for daily system maintenance, as well as business analytics reporting.
Here are a few more guidelines to use when evaluating a hosted video solution:
- No in-house data center and minimal IT staff – If you don’t have the infrastructure or the personnel to host your own video networking equipment, you’ll be better suited with a hybrid hosted solution, where the video server is hosted and managed offsite by your provider.
- Faster deployment – If you need to get your video surveillance solution up and running quickly, a hybrid hosted solution could offer you a faster deployment because you don’t have to worry about setting up or configuring the central server or any application software.
- Convenient reporting – If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on video analysis, a hybrid hosted solution could be for you. In some hybrid models, you’ll receive pre-defined reports on what’s most important to you – for example, a list of potentially suspicious transactions matched with video – so you can quickly scan to investigate.
- Flexible payment options – In many hybrid hosted solutions, you don’t need to purchase software licenses, or worry about license renewals. Because you’re purchasing a service, you pay a monthly fee and your provider takes care of the rest. This is particularly helpful if it’s difficult for your organization to make large capital investments. You can skip the investment in a central server and use your provider’s instead. You may or may not have to invest in on-site devices (cameras and recorders), depending on the provider you choose. Some providers will allow you to finance your hardware, while others will want you to purchase it upfront.
Determining whether a hosted solution is right for your business is a big decision involving many factors, including your business’s size, its bandwidth and network infrastructure and overall budget for physical security.
But hopefully this blog has offered some insight into the various solutions that exist, and which one may be best for your business.
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