Surveillance Strategies

Scalable? No Problem

December 1, 2011

How well a hardware or software platform can adapt to increasing demands defines the term scalability. This term is becoming the de facto reason why the security industry has been replacing older DVRs with newer storage solutions. The popularity of video encoder devices as standalone appliances versus bundled into the DVR is accelerating this industry shift even further.

Scalable video storage solutions are essential to building a cost effective, adaptable security foundation that addresses the increasing requirements from changing levels of risk and new integration requirements. New government regulations and technological advances that show no sign of slowing are pressuring the physical security industry. Professionals responsible for making decisions about technology platforms that will remain useful for three to five years amidst these changes turn to scalable solutions to safeguard their investments.

Fortunately for physical security directors, enterprise IT storage directors have faced similar problems every day for the past seven years, and are experts in scalable storage solutions. However, their expertise has been typically applied to the data center only, and has not extended to the edge of the solution where the security directors work. However, if the two directors can work together, they can solve this physical security storage problem by leveraging the same technology, standards and support expertise.

IBM, EMC and newer providers like Intransa have proven their expertise in scalable storage solutions. However, the market is broken into three cost and technological categories: direct attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN). Each of these has advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed here.


Direct Attached Storage

Direct attached storage is the oldest of the solutions and is still quite common. It is server-centric because it is directly attached to the data network, as its name implies. These systems tend to be preferred in standalone server environments, where the solution is not integrated with other systems. DAS also tends to provide the fastest throughput of all systems. However, because of its server-centric design, it provides only limited scalability, and because it does not integrate well with other systems, it is difficult to manage in a changing environment. These systems also tend to be single server and storage manufacturer-based systems and have strict distance requirements for connecting cable lengths.


Network Attached Storage

Network attached storage systems have been one of the most successful storage solutions as a modern file server. Being network-centric allows NAS devices to support any other network devices with no distance limitations. Because of the high number of manufacturers, the NAS market has driven the cost per terabyte down to less than $750. NAS systems are well suited for use within scalable storage solutions serving the needs of physical security. 


Storage Area Networks

Storage area networks are the current standard for scalable storage solutions and are broken into two types: iSCSI and fibre channel-based systems. Although fiber channel systems are most mature, iSCSI is the most promising for the physical security industry. The key difference is the networking technology used to transmit data from the server to the storage device. 

iSCSI based SANs have all of the data protection technologies that fiber channel have, without all of the expense. In fact, these systems use industry standard Ethernet cables and switches to connect the servers to the storage solution. In addition, iSCSI is well suited for deployment out of the data center because it has a compact form factor, is rack mounted and comes in a wide range of sizes. It does not require the IT staff to have a specialized technical skill set like fibre channel, making it easy to support. But the most important characteristic of iSCSI SAN is how cost effective it is – commonly found for less than $1,500 per terabyte. 


Best Practices

When designing a solution using iSCSI SAN technology, storage capacities can be easily changed and modified because the solution is not dependent on a single camera or server type. This allows for the greatest amount of flexibility and customization, which is likely why both Pelco and Bosch have selected iSCSI as their SAN platform. 

Looking into the future of physical security, the only thing certain is that risks and threats will continue to change, requiring a security hardware and software platform that can easy adapt. Building the foundation on a scalable storage solution will enable physical security directors to confidently add the best of breed components without having to perform expensive system upgrades to support the latest technology. With the partnership of enterprise IT directors, these storage solutions can be easily integrated with other systems to provide a broad enterprise value.  

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

Recent Articles by Keven Marier

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

Security December 2014 issue cover

2014 December

This issue of Security Magazine covers our 12th annual Top Guarding Firms list. Check out the best of the best as of December 2014. The 21st century has brought with it new types of security threats. Read how to combat and protect against these threats.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Security Emergency Preparedness Training

Which security personnel emergency preparedness training is the top priority to you and your enterprise?
View Results Poll Archive


CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide
CompTIA's Security+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 60,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The current Security+ exam (SY0-201) focuses more on being able to deal with security issues rather than just identifying them.
More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.