Magazine Article | April 20, 2012

Cloud Computing Opens IP Surveillance Opportunities For VARs

By Pedro Pereira, Business Solutions magazine

While the concept of “cloud” is relatively new to the video surveillance world, many of the benefits will resonate with IT integrators.

As the ongoing drive for better picture quality gains momentum in the video surveillance industry, VARs and integrators may actually find better opportunities in a market segment that cares more about manageability than megapixels. That segment, composed of SMBs with modest security needs, is poised to take advantage of the remote management and monitoring capabilities made possible by cloud computing, says Bud Broomhead, CEO of Intransa, a vendor of software and hardware video surveillance infrastructure solutions.

And that’s where the money is for channel companies, says Broomhead. Cloud-based surveillance solutions are a better fit for budget-conscious SMBs than for the security departments of banks, retail chains, and other organizations that have a greater need for high-quality surveillance images. Small customer sites, such as a retail corner shop, gas station, or remote branch office, may need only one or two cameras without the added expensive equipment for recording and management that traditional systems include. The cloud makes that possible, Broomhead says.

“The picture quality and frame rate required by an in-house security department may be too high a standard for cloud technology, but cloud technology is finding other customers where lower frame rates or resolution is acceptable. That’s how disruptive technologies work — they find a market that’s appropriate for them and service that market. I think that is what’s happening in the cloud today,” Broomhead says.

Cloud solutions are more dependable and easier to manage than systems that rely on security cameras connected to dedicated recording devices that users have to rewind and fast-forward to review video. In many cases, cloud-based systems are displacing the older technology, Broomhead adds.

Like phone systems, video surveillance historically has relied on expensive analog technology. IP-based cameras, which are more flexible and connect to computer networks, have been replacing analog video in recent years, with more than 75% of new installations involving IP cameras, according to IPVM (IP Video Market).

As IP cameras take over, cloud-driven innovation and automation are opening a new market for VARs and integrators. The opportunity is not in the actual transportation of video through the cloud, but the ability to remotely manage the infrastructure, Broomhead says. The challenge is to develop business models to take the new technology to market. “If you find a business model, the technology will follow,” he says. “And that’s what the industry is wrestling with now.”

The obvious direction for video surveillance integrators, he says, is to focus on the remote aspect of the technology since “monitoring is part of the DNA of the security industry.” In addition, remote capabilities provide a natural fit for the business model of managed services providers (MSPs), who already remotely monitor and manage computer networks for their clients.

Intransa is piloting a service that uses telemetry and an alert system to keep surveillance systems running as glitch-free as possible. The vendor monitors its partners’ customer locations and notifies the relevant partner when something goes wrong. “We call the integrator when there’s a problem. They don’t call us,” Broomhead says.

For instance, if a fan burns out in a machine, Intransa apprises the partner of the situation and ships a replacement overnight for quick resolution.

The biggest fear of security professionals is to not know a camera has stopped working. “To discover that after the fact is devastating to careers,” he says. But it’s possible to avoid such situations with a relatively small up-front investment of $1,000 to $2,000 and ensuing monthly fees, Broomhead says. A cloud model is akin to that of alarm system companies, and it creates attractive recurring revenue opportunities for VARs and integrators.