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NVR vs. VSaaS: How to choose between them?

NVR vs. VSaaS: How to choose between them?
Both the NVR and VSaaS architectures have pros and cons. Here we further look at who can better benefit from each, how cost-effective VSaaS really is, and how to decide which architecture to choose.
Both the NVR and VSaaS architectures have pros and cons. Here we further look at who can better benefit from each, how cost-effective VSaaS really is, and how to decide which architecture to choose.

New: Read more in our Cloud and Hybrid Video Surveillance Guide (Updated 2021)

In the NVR architecture, most equipment, including the NVR and storage, are at the user site, whereas in VSaaS most of the processing and storage is done in the cloud that the user pays a monthly fee for. Due to their different natures, they are suitable for different types of projects.

Who can benefit from NVR

The NVR architecture may be considered by medium to large organizations who typically have more money to spend on initial equipment purchases and in-house IT staff. “They have the purchasing power to regularly acquire network equipment and have established relationships with IT providers and leverage buying power, share resources and expertise,” said Nicholas Yap, COO of ICD Security Solutions.
“Larger organizations with larger facility operations, and robust IT infrastructure, management, cybersecurity, and sophisticated physical security operations can manage large-scale enterprise on-prem systems as part of the broader enterprise,” said Chris Grniet, Regional VP for Security and Technology Consulting at Guidepost Solutions.
Projects that have higher camera counts can also find NVR beneficial, as transmitting video from all cameras to the cloud would be costly and bandwidth-consuming. “NVR is suitable for corporate or institutional users who have a large number of cameras concentrated at a single site. Examples would include corporate campuses, factories, hospitals, and schools,” said Michael A. Silva, Principal of Silva Consultants.
Finally, NVR may be the only option for end users who are prohibited by law to transmit video to the cloud or who are subject to extremely poor Internet connection.
“NVR is suitable for military sites prohibited from connecting to the Internet. Locations without 4G or Internet connections can also benefit,” said Carter Maslan, CEO of Camio.
“Any entity that maintains highly sensitive data and is governed by strict regulations such as government agencies, airports or research institutes can go with a fully on-prem model or a hybrid model that ensures sensitive data continues to be stored locally,” said Ritesh Gupta, CTO of Product Engineering Services at Happiest Minds Technologies.
“Locations that have no Internet connectivity for cameras or very low bandwidth (assuming LTE modem with solid plan isn’t an option) can benefit from NVR,” said Alen Zukich, CPO of Camcloud.

Who can benefit from VSaaS

As for the VSaaS business model, it’s more ideal for smaller businesses with less sophisticated IT skills and less budget to work from. “VSaaS suits smaller sites with a limited number of cameras where the volume of data transferred to the cloud is small, or any site which captures data with a low bitrate (low resolution, FPS). The transfer of data tends to be cost-effective and suit companies on a limited budget,” said Rémy Javelle, Global Product Manager for Recording Solutions at Axis Communications.
“It’s ideal for SMBs with basic monitoring needs, looking for a VMS with less than 10 cameras,” said Fabliha Chowdhury, Stratocast Product Marketing Manager at Genetec.
“Smaller clients will benefit from the fully managed nature of a service that is always kept up to date,” said Danny Berkovic, Senior VP of Electronic Security at Securitas Australia. “It is also beneficial for short-term deployments (for example 12 months) where the upfront costs of purchasing servers and storage would not be recovered.”
Further, due to the cloud’s ability for centralized management, end user entities with multiple sites dispersed across a region may find cloud appealing as there’s no need to set up NVRs at each individual site. “Small business to enterprise size deployments with multiple sites that are geographically dispersed benefit greatly from VSaaS solutions. Traditional VMS operations become difficult to manage, use and maintain without the centralization cloud offers. The larger the system, the more compounded this effect will be,” said Dean Drako, Founder and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks.
“There is far less hardware components especially in a multi-site setup. For example, take a coffee shop owner – with one location NVR may make sense. However if that owner has two or three locations, it becomes harder to justify the price for the NVR setup especially when you take into account maintenance of failing hardware,” Zukich said.

Does VSaaS really save money in the end?

One of the main value propositions of getting video-as-a-service is the amount of savings the end user may enjoy by not having to pay for the hardware equipment, software licenses and associated maintenance and repairs. But is that really the case?
In certain scenarios, money can indeed be saved. “Most of the service providers use a ‘pay as you go for what you use’ approach. You are only paying the part of the whole server infrastructure, plus you have the flexibility to expand it without wasting the current investments at hand,” Yap said. “For residential and smaller business customers, annual total cost that they are paying to the service provider is still cheaper when compared to acquiring an on-site solutions (NVR). For instance, a 2-camera system with a monthly service fee of US$20 per camera would have a year cost of $480. That is way below the cost of dedicating a PC and the setup involved in configuring the video surveillance software and enabling remote access.”
Yet for the most part, the question whether VSaaS can help end users save is not so clear cut and depends on various factors.
“VSaaS can be costly. The price varies depending on the features of the plan – that is, the number of cameras, amount of storage and software features. It can be costly for large setup of cameras,” said R. Nandakumar, Founder of ATSS.
“It depends on the number of cameras, how many days you want to keep the files and whether you want constant recording or based on motion detection recording,” said Sakchai Somsuk, CTO at T-Solutions.
“There may be some savings on the costs of servers and storage at smaller facilities with only a few cameras. However, at larger facilities with many cameras, the ‘per camera’ cost of VSaaS would quickly offset any savings in server and storage costs,” Silva said. “At smaller facilities with a small number of cameras, the ongoing costs of VSaaS service would likely be considered reasonable given the benefits that this service provides. However, at larger facilities with many cameras, it would likely still be more cost effective to use an on-premises solution such as an NVR.”

What to consider when choosing between NVR and VSaaS

So, when it comes to choosing between NVR and VSaaS, what factors should the end user consider? Javelle of Axis suggested the following:
  • The number of cameras;
  • The resolution, FPS and compression that will be used for each camera;
  • System retention times (for example, will be recording need to be stored for 30 days versus 60 or 90 days);
  • Is the recording done continuously or on an event basis? How often are the events expected to take place and for how long?
  • How often the recordings are accessed and by how many users?
  • Are there any analytics application that need to be used?
  • What are the specifications of the available internet connection (for example? up/down speed).

In-house IT capability

Another factor to consider is whether the end user has enough in-house IT capability to handle all the equipment on-premises. “It is essential to review all hidden costs (power, real estate, air-conditioning) and available skills. The full software stack needs to be patched and upgraded – so the skills and resources must be available. Hardware also needs to be maintained as it will age-out over time and moving parts such as hard-drives can fail and need replacing,” Berkovic said.


The level of importance that the user attaches to the security of their video data is another critical factor at play. “They need to … determine how much risk they are willing to take by having only onsite storage,” Zukich said.
“With increasing threat levels to data security, it is vital that they have to fully explore what is involved in each of the delivery options offered by vendors. Look at the way in which they deliver cloud and how secure it is, as not all services are created equal,” Yap said.
“Many end users have been slow to migrate to VSaaS and eliminate their on-prem or hybrid architecture for many reasons, including fears over data privacy, network security, lack of control and accessibility, and costs associated with storage and the migration of other systems for interface. While certain elements of these concerns are unfounded, others are justified depending on the end-user’s profile,” Grniet said.
In the end, each user scenario is different, and choosing which architecture, NVR or VSaaS, to deploy ultimately rests upon the user’s own circumstance. “I think it’s really clear about the cost of both systems, availability of each system, monthly fee the user needs to pay for both solutions, so it’s dependent on which one matches their needs and requirement,” said Somsuk.
The user needs to understand and evaluate each of the video surveillance solution options available for them. They should consider each of the parameters like security, reliability, size and scalability, remote access, QoS and cost while evaluating these solutions. Choice of choosing a particular solution or combination of solutions should be based on the user’s need vs score given to various solutions available,” said Dhananjay Birwadkar, Director of Homeland Security and Smart City at MitKat Advisory Services.

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