Searching questions on storage for video surveillance and data
SecurityNewsDesk’s Tim Compston finds out where vendors think the future of storage for video surveillance and other data is headed.
As more and more business functions are reliant on cloud-based storage we weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to store security system information. Is local storage still a better option for data heavy video surveillance systems for example or for added redundancy? What about the hidden costs of upgrading the IP infrastructure so there is the right bandwidth in place? How secure is ‘the cloud’?
We talk to vendors to find out about the innovative physical and ‘cloud-based’ storage solutions they are bringing to market and what the future holds with ultra-high resolution cameras looming on the horizon. A Video Surveillance Trends report by Seagate – the data storage specialist – serves to underline the concerns that organisations have regarding their current storage arrangements and the growing volume of data with 44 percent saying that one of the key challenges with their ‘existing primary storage media’ relates to capacity.
Mission critical data
Speaking to David Aindow, Product and Technology Director at Synectics, he says that the majority of the company’s customers perceive their video data as ‘mission critical’: “They much prefer to store this data within their operational communications rooms or owned data centres rather than in the cloud.” Aindow adds that this is largely to ensure data security risks are as minimal as possible and the sheer volume of video data that is generated by enterprises such as casinos, CNI (Critical National Infrastructure) sites and public area surveillance systems: “In this case our PSN 3 product line supports extremely high video data throughput of up to 384mbps per unit, with data rates up to 700mbps on the horizon, and is typically deployed within the customer’s LAN [Local Area Network] or WAN [Wide Area Network] environment.” Aindow cites the example of a casino customer with thousands of channels of HD (High Definition) video: “They simply can’t obtain sufficient bandwidth to store this volume of video data in the cloud.”
That being said, Aindow tells me that Synectics does see a move to video data being more accessible: “At Synectics we are working with a number of customers to help them realise this. In this instance rather than all video being stored in the cloud, only video data of potential interest to third parties such as insurance providers or law enforcement agencies is migrated to the cloud as a bit-for-bit copy with full SHA2 Protection and relevant audit data.” In addition, according to Aindow, a secure link is then presented to the third parties with a time expiry to allow them to access the relevant footage: “This is actually an advancement from Synectics ‘Evidence/Incident Locker’ product that has been used for in the industry for over 10 years. Rather than ‘the Locker’ being a physical unit that resides within the data owners secure LAN or WAN, it is now an application that is hosted. All access to ‘the Locker’ is audited so usage of the secure links can be monitored,” explains Aindow.
Joacim Tullberg, Product Manager at Axis also feels that there is plenty of life left yet in local storage for high quality video: “Regardless of how much more we compress, the bandwidth requirement is going to be larger for a long time, moving forward, so it is not going to be feasible to upload everything to a cloud solution. You are going to see a combination of cloud and local storage.”
Keeping an open mind
Asking Thomas Lausten, Vice President, EMEA at Milestone, where the storage of data from security systems should happen, his immediate response is, essentially, ‘wherever the user would like it to be stored’: “That is one of the beauties of open platform technology. What we are seeing now is that more and more cloud service providers are certifying their solutions with Milestone. We have always certified Microsoft Azure as cloud storage for us.”
Expanding on his initial comments, Lausten adds that Milestone is certainly not in the business of telling anybody that they should either store their video footage in the cloud or locally: “We let it depend on their actual need and the open platform technology allows them to choose the perfect platform.”
On the product development front, Lausten confirms that Milestone is paying special attention to tuning up storage performance: “We have multiple releases of our XProtect
platform each year and one of the areas that is getting a special focus in an up and coming release – scheduled to come out before IFSEC – is the performance in handling video data.” To round off our discussion, Lausten flags up the fact that, due to legislation, it simply may not be possible to store video surveillance up in the cloud for certain jurisdictions while it is perfectly okay for other countries. Whatever the storage options available, Thomas Lausten agrees that the whole question of storage is far more important today than it was even a year ago.
In other connected developments it was announced last September that WD – a Western Digital Company – and Milestone were partnering to make Milestone’s Arcus video surveillance software available on WD’s My Cloud Business Series network-attached storage (NAS) systems with the My Cloud OS 3 operating system. In practical terms the step to integrate Arcus into My Cloud OS 3 means that users can transform their My Cloud Business Series NAS Systems into networked video recording systems for their offices or homes. In addition, WD and Milestone anticipate that Arcus will be made available for other My Cloud systems, such as the My Cloud Expert Series, in the future.
Turning to Veracity, the company has just concluded a major deal which will see its Coldstore and Trinity surveillance storage solutions provided through Hanwha Techwin’s normal distribution channels globally. The deal was signed at Veracity’s Prestwick, UK, headquarters by Cheol Kyo Kim, President and CEO of Hanwha Techwin and Alistair McLeod, Group CEO of Veracity UK Ltd. Commenting on the agreement, Kim said: “Our WiseNetIII cameras and sophisticated professional level SSM video management software supported by Coldstore deliver a truly impressive and unique architecture known as Trinity.” McLeod added: “We are delighted that Hanwha Techwin has recognised the enormous potential of our ground-breaking sequential storage systems.”
Moving on to Christian Morin Vice President – Cloud Services, at Genetec he is very much, as his job title suggests, an evangelist for the cloud: “Genetec is all in with the cloud, we have a cloud first and hybrid cloud strategy.” Expanding on this theme, Morin explains that, essentially, everything that is new at Genetec is done in the cloud first: “We have a number of initiatives from a product development perspective that are baking right now that will be brand new cloud services to bring to the market.” Morin of course is realistic and says that it is very important to emphasise that although Genetec is ‘cloud first’ the hybrid cloud component is very important too: “As much as we believe in the cloud – and the cloud is the future – it is not a transition that is going to happen overnight. There are still a number of scenarios where you cannot go fully to the cloud. So we have customers who are basically running everything in the cloud today but I would say that most of them still have a significant on-premises component to their system.”
As well as storage, Morin is keen to illustrate the additional capabilities the cloud can bring: “It allows our existing customers to start off-loading some of their computer system requirements to the cloud and also starts preparing them for the flip down the road when they actually migrate everything to a cloud-based architecture.”
Asked what the main reasons are for people heading into the cloud, where security solutions are concerned, Morin says that it covers a pretty broad spectrum: “One of which would be when we are talking about storage and video, for example, is if you are required to keep your video for a very long period of time. This could be because of compliance requirements and is something that is quite frequent in North America where you need to retain something for one year, two years, or even five years.” Given this, Morin feels that the cloud becomes a very compelling ‘value proposition’: “We actually have a number of customers who have adopted the cloud because it is much more cost effective not just from a storage perspective but also with regards to the total cost of ownership.”
Forecasting the future
To sum up then, we are very much at a crossroads in the world of storage for security systems, including video surveillance, only time will tell whether, as some hope, the cloud becomes the primary reservoir for video footage or other data. Of course the reality may not be so clear cut, given the critical nature of what is being stored a large proportion of users may, for the foreseeable future, favour the marrying of local and cloud-based elements to deliver the right level of redundancy and resilience.