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Hybrid cloud video surveillance: What you need to know

Hybrid cloud video surveillance: What you need to know
With the rise of IoT in recent years, many enterprises, hospitals, schools, and other multi-location organizations have considered the benefits of shifting their video surveillance security system to the cloud.

What is cloud video surveillance?

Cloud video survillance, which is oft referred also as video surveillance as a service (VSaaS)  refers to a cloud-based solution packaged and delivered as a service. A true cloud-based solution offers video processing and management by the cloud. The system may have an onsite device to communicate with the cameras and the cloud, acting as a gateway or communications conduit. Connecting surveillance to the cloud enables access to advanced features such as video analytics, AI deep learning, live camera health monitoring, alert scheduling as well as easy firmware updates and better bandwidth management.

This starkly contrasts with a traditional on-premise surveillance system, where the video processing, recording and mangement occurs on a physical system installed at the business site. The video of which may be later accessed via an internet connection for viewing or storage, limited of course by available bandwidth and hardware capabilities.

Are there different types of cloud video surveillance?

Depending on where the video data storage and analysis is being stored (onsite vs offsite), there are three business VSaaS models in the market:

  • Managed VSaaS - onsite video storage with network video recorders (NVRs) or a video managment system (VMS), with remote video recording and management through a third party.
  • Hosted VSaaS - video is streamed, stored and managed by a third-party company or video service provider in the cloud.
  • Hybrid VSaaS - onsite storage with backup storage in the cloud, remote monitoring and management capabilities.
Read: Cloud market survey says these are the key benefits users are after 

More than one way to get cloud-based security solution

There are two ways to go about adopting cloud-based solutions for your business:

1. Rely on one company for the whole solution -- the camera, software and cloud storage 
This is a very attractive option for most as this is simplicity as its best. Why go through the hassle of figuring out how to connect each, if you can get all in one easy-to-install bundle? The cons -- Buyers should keep in mind that this would tie their systems to one service provider that can charge a pretty penny for their service. Any replacements or changes you might want to do in the future would be limited.

2.  Connect security cameras with a different cloud service provder
For this one, installers need to ensure that their IP cameras contains cloud-compatible security hardware. Many cloud service providers are also compatible with ONVIF-supported cameras. Some can be used right out of the box, but some might need a bit of manual configuration to get them connected to the cloud.

Things to consider when deciding to move to cloud or hybrid

Camera count

For low camera counts, going pure cloud can help limit cybersecurity vulnerabilities. But for larger number of cameras, with variable storage retention times, it may pay to go for a hybrid system that can offer inexpensive local storage with low-latency networks, plus the benefits of the cloud and easy accessibility anywhere. 

Bandwidth speed and accessibility

The higher the image quality, the higher the bandwidth requirements of the system. For businesses with operational budget constraints or bandwidth limitations, hybrid cloud offers an alternative wherein only certain videos are transmitted to the cloud. This makes sense for most surveillance systems (especially for small- to medium-sized businesses) where majority of the videos are usually not used and only specific events require follow-up action.  

Storage requirements

Are you required to store certain data onsite for security or private reasons? Hybrid solutions would allow customers who are currently using local VMS or NVRs for video monitoring to also benefit from cloud services like offsite storage, notifications, web UI and clip sharing.

Verticals that could benefit the most from hybrid cloud solutions

A hybrid cloud solution would work for many different types of organizations. Generally speaking, this model would benefit businesses that require communication and information sharing between headquarters and satellite offices or sites. As such, it can be an ideal solution for businesses in areas such as:

Retail: Hybrid cloud solutions can be helpful for retailers, enabling regional or HQ visibility into exception reporting, yet enables the local storage of most video, saving the typically limited bandwidth in retail locations for more valuable payment traffic.

Military: As mentioned, end user entities that have cloud migration plans but must keep certain information onsite can benefit from hybrid. The US Army, for example, began a hybrid cloud pilot program at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. According to the Army website, the hybrid architecture can include a combination of on-premises Department of Defense cloud environments, commercial cloud service providers and off-premises federal cloud environments.

Healthcare: Healthcare providers can also benefit from hybrid cloud as certain video data concerning patients must be kept on-premises. Further, amid covid-19 where many hospitals have set up temporary patient units that need to be secured with video surveillance, hybrid solutions can also help.

Securing your hybrid cloud solution

Hybrid cloud security needs be addressed from two aspects: physical and cyber.

In terms of physical, since hybrid cloud solutions entail a hardware gateway/storage device on-premises, it needs to be protected physically from threats of theft and equipment damage. Some hybrid solution provider like Eagle Eye Networks offer cloud redundancy for both high and low resolutions, along with permanent critical footage archive in the cloud.

Hybrid cloud solutions should be configured according to cybersecurity best practices, with a cybersecure gateway and regular penetration testing performed by the hybrid cloud solution vendor. As new users come online and the network expanding, it would be vital to be vigilant when it comes to managing links and permissions in the centralized system. Following hardening guides, proper maintenance and keeping the system updated will be key to maximize the security of your hybrid cloud solution.

Access the cloud and hybrid video surveillance guide here

This cloud and hybrid video surveillance guide for security channel players includes a comparison of the pros and cons of cloud versus hybrid-based cloud surveillance solutions, a reader survey of the cloud security market, FAQs and best practices for hybrid video surveillance, and an industry directory of cloud security service providers.

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