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Storage and video retention: What’s the right fit for you

Storage and video retention: What’s the right fit for you
When it comes to storage in video surveillance, users are faced with many options. So, what’s the right fit for them? This note discusses that in detail.
When it comes to storage in video surveillance, users are faced with many options. So, what’s the right fit for them? This note discusses that in detail.
Storage is a key element in video surveillance. Right now, there are three prevailing options. Onsite storage stores video on-premises, whereas cloud stores video offsite at a cloud solutions provider. Hybrid combines features from both architectures. Their pros and cons are discussed as follow.

Onsite pros and cons

Onsite storage has been in practice for years, and users are drawn to it due to its various benefits. “Onsite surveillance video storage typically offers the highest performance, highest resiliency, lowest cost (especially when archived video surveillance is needed for review and/or retained for long, if not, indefinite, periods of time) and maximum protection,” said Anthony Koo, Business Development Manager at Quantum.
Yet onsite storage has certain disadvantages as well. “There are drawbacks, with continual maintenance and upgrade requirements, longer implementation periods and deployment times along with larger up front capital expenditures. With the complexity of some hardware, staff training and adaptation might also be a struggle for some customers that do not have a full time or on staff IT department,” said Darren Giacomini, Director of Advanced Systems Architecture, and Eugene Kozlovitser, Technology Director, at BCD International.

Cloud pros and cons

Cloud has gained much attention in the video surveillance world, attracting with its benefits including remote monitoring, scalability and lower capital expenditure. “Cloud storage has its own advantages in the video surveillance space. With anywhere and anytime access, footage can be retrieved with simplicity from majority of devices. Quick and worry-free deployments with predictable costs allow smaller scale customers peace of mind without the need for expensive on-site staff, and managed service contracts. Ease of scalability and with a pay-as-you-go model allows for lower costs and storage as you need, and therefore, not paying for storage that you might need,” Giacomini and Kozlovitser said.
Yet cloud has also got disadvantages for example the cost of uploading all video to the cloud. There are compliance issues as well.
“Cloud storage can also be expensive in terms of data bandwidth. For organizations with extensive surveillance video, costs may be high to upload the surveillance video to the cloud. Cloud storage can be challenged by latency issues in cases of extensive surveillance video. In other words, the storage needs may exceed the ability of transferring the storage into the cloud,” Koo said. “Last, but not least, cloud storage may not be suitable for organizations with sensitive data. Anytime data is transmitted to the cloud there is the potential for data to be sniffed by bad actors. It may even be held for ransom ('ransomware').”

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud, which combines the best of both worlds, has emerged as an ideal option. “Hybrid cloud security systems use a combination of on-premises video storage with a cloud data storage solution and is ideal for companies looking for flexibility and looking to get the benefits of storage in the cloud. Hybrid cloud has the potential to provide the best of both onsite and cloud solutions. They can minimize the bandwidth by only sending event video data to the cloud and leverage to cloud for increased flexibility as well as solve other interesting problems through fusing of video to other data sources,” said Alex Johnson, Senior Director for Analytics and Strategy at Verint.
“In large organizations, hybrid cloud may be the best alternative. Video surveillance from remote sites with good bandwidth can be stored in the cloud while local, large installations could be stored onsite. VMS can simultaneously manage surveillance storage located in the cloud and onsite,” Koo said. “Moreover, advanced video file systems can autonomously move or replicate surveillance storage on any tier of storage such as cloud, onsite disk, onsite object storage, and onsite tape.”

How to know which one to choose

Given the available solutions in the market, how should the end user decide which one to choose? This depends on various factors, including the use’s own camera count, network infrastructure, budget and compliance requirements.
“This is always a difficult decision to make, but most decisions are governed by required retention periods, cost of service provider links, associated SLA, and costs associated with each storage solution. Customers who have very resilient networks, and robust throughput might opt for a hosted or cloud-based storage, while end users that anticipate outages might favor a hybrid approach. In certain instances, regulatory bodies, and corporate policy require all data remain on site, making any cloud solution a sub-optimal solution,” Giacomini and Kozlovitser said.
“I would say make decision based upon: future organizational priorities (e.g. cloud-first initiatives), cost and support. My recommendation is to do what makes sense today, but keep an eye out for what you might want to do in the coming years and make sure you can leverage the cloud to help you get there,” Johnson said.
Consulting a trusted partner is also important. “There are often multiple approaches that organizations can take so working with a trusted vendor and/or A&E will ensure that an organization will be presented with recommendations customized for the organization,” Koo said.

What SIs need to know

For integrators, a strong knowledge in networking, IT and the inner workings of storage solutions from different brands is essential to help end user clients get the solution that they need. Effective communications with clients are also needed.
“IoT knowledge is critical. Today’s video surveillance systems are connected to the internet (or have the option to connect), making them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The growing prevalence of cyberattacks is something that should be top of mind for security systems integrators,” Johnson said. “Also important is an understanding of bandwidth requirements of the variety of cameras available in the market (e.g., frame rates, resolutions, etc.) and different use cases. You need to ensure that the customer is using the right solution in the right use case. Additionally, an understanding of IT infrastructure as well as other IT constraints to ensure that the system, as designed, can fully function properly is critical. Finally, an understanding of how to properly optimize a given manufactures system and ensure that it is properly configured is needed.”
“The integrator channel is expected to have a vast knowledge and understanding of how these systems operate, how they are configured, and how they are maintained. With the influx of IoT and edge devices generating mass amounts of data, the security integrator needs to answer questions and resolve problems that at times are complex and diverse in nature. The strong line of communication between the end user and the integrator will always be fundamental to the success of any project,” Giacomini and Kozlovitser said.

Check out relevant CCTV Storage Calculators has a section with relevant surveillance camera calculators: for storage, camera placement and camera configuration. 
you are invited to check our CCTV Camera Calculator page for more details. 



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