Magazine Article | October 18, 2012

Storage: Don't Overlook This Critical Video Surveillance Component

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions Magazine

Scalability and video analytics will be keys to success in the surveillance market.

With the expansion of IP-based video surveillance systems, improvements in camera technology, and demand for video data to enable other types of applications, storage requirements for video surveillance systems have grown exponentially. In large installations involving hundreds of cameras, the needs of these systems can quickly scale to hundreds of terabytes (even petabytes) of storage.

“If you look at an airport or casino, as a reseller you’re dealing with between 10 and 100 times the amount of storage capacity that a normal business is running,” says Lee Caswell, founder and CSO of Pivot3. As video content moves from “nice-to-have” data to businesscritical information, mastering the storage challenge will be important for any resellers hoping to establish a foothold in the surveillance market.

According to Caswell, among the key trends in the space is the advent of mobile access to video information. “You have more distributed organizations, and you can tap into remote cameras or into recorded videos from other locations,” Caswell says.

Businesses also want to centralize both the recording function and playback capabilities to increase security. “Instead of having 50 PCs that display and store video locally, you can centralize playback and storage. You use a PC or a thin client to log in to the playback system, which is centrally controlled and monitored, and now you have much more secure access to protect the video content and provide more flexibility.”

Growing Demand For Video Analytics
Now that many organizations have experience with deploying and managing large numbers of cameras, Caswell says they are beginning to investigate how video data can be used for more than just forensic purposes (e.g. using video as evidence or for prosecution purposes). The next step in the evolution of surveillance systems includes using video to provide a realtime indication of what is happening. “This involves video analytics,” Caswell says. “If you have a camera on a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) line at an airport, for example, you can predict that all of the pixels should be moving the same way. If you see pixels going the other way or in an unusual arrangement, you can analyze those and send alerts. You look at the aberrations.”

With the shift to behavioral analysis, clients can move from a cost-center approach to a revenue-generation opportunity with video. For example, in a retail environment, foot traffic monitoring could indicate which displays are working better than others. Cameras could also be used by retailers to remotely confirm that certain end cap displays have been assembled by a particular deadline.

According to Caswell, phase three of this evolution will involve leveraging video analytics and high-resolution imagery on a more granular level. Theme parks, for instance, could use video data to automatically put out a call for additional workers if attendance was larger than expected on a particular day. “You can improve customer service or generate revenue using video,” Caswell indicated.

IT/Security Resellers Need To Change
With the changes in technology, both traditional IT resellers and security resellers will need to expand their resources and expertise. Security VARs often lack the networking experience required, while IT VARs don’t have the security expertise.

Virtualization is another important strategy in this market, Caswell says, because it can save 25% in costs and 40% in power requirements, depending on the installation. “The benefit of virtualization is so tangible to customers that it helps win deals by reducing the price on large projects, or increasing margin.”

For security/surveillance resellers, partnering with the right vendors (and other resellers) can address the storage challenge and improve competitiveness. “Will surveillance resellers become as savvy on IT as an IT reseller? No, but by partnering well they can create competitive solutions for the server and storage portions, which can be half the cost of the deal.”