Surveillance Strategies / Video Surveillance / Columns

How to Manage Surveillance Over the Private Cloud

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What’s happening in the IT industry should be seen as a predictor for the future of networked surveillance. Approximately a year ago, a major indicator occurred that predicted that managed services would experience a period of accelerated growth and become a permanent segment of the IT services market. At the time a private equity firm invested in N-able Technologies, a Management Services Provider (MSP), and Zenith Infotech spun off from Zenith RMM. More mergers and acquisitions followed, along with increased venture capital activity, especially in the areas of small business cloud storage and online backup services.  

It has reached a point where the major players are not trying to gain market share from each other, instead they are focused on trying to grow the size of the market itself.  This will happen in the networked surveillance industry, and managed services delivered via a private cloud infrastructure will be the first examples of this. However, today the majority of the security marketplace is still focused on locally installed, operated and managed surveillance system deployment strategies, with much of today’s new-networked surveillance projects being migrations from analog cameras and DVR replacements. When the networked surveillance deployments make up the majority of the marketplace, manufacturers will start to shift their focus on growing the surveillance market as a whole. The enabling networked surveillance system design strategies will first be managed services delivered via a private cloud infrastructure.


Private Versus Public Clouds

The bulk of the market for security and surveillance managed services today revolves around onsite deployments and requires the service provider to operate and maintain the system at the customer’s location. A key objective initially will be to move the management of the system into the cloud, and we already see VMS and PSIM software providers making investments in these types of software technologies.

The public cloud right now is where anyone and everyone in a marketplace can get everything from a pool of shared surveillance applications and storage, over a public network and have it maintained by the same provider. Private cloud surveillance systems typically involve a single user with many locations accessing a private network or VPN (Virtual Private Network) and using their own dedicated hardware and software that is both onsite and in the private cloud. In either case, cloud-based solutions make perfect sense for the surveillance needs of a small to medium-sized business as well as large, multisite enterprise organizations.


Why Managed Services?

Private, cloud-based managed services will gain popularity because buyers still get the benefits of knowing they have control over where and which hardware they are using because they “specify” the system. However, they don’t have to take the risks of deploying, managing and maintaining these large complex surveillance systems. While the relative size of these deployments is only slightly larger than the analog systems, your security operations can benefit from centralized management and a common software interface. In addition, these designs offer you the opportunity to significantly reduce your locally deployed hardware footprint.  They also create buildable economic models for you and your service provider by being able to leverage highly trained resources to operate, manage and maintain solutions. For you, it creates a highly flexible and scalable surveillance system.


Public Cloud Surveillance Hype

There is a lot of discussion surrounding the benefits of public cloud surveillance – I believe that it is still very much in the hype phase of technology adoption. The challenges are very real with these types of public surveillance as a service offerings, because they require very large capital investments upfront and the hardware technologies used to power them have a relatively short life cycle of three to five years. This results in a big risk for the provider to be able to get enough customers to use the system in a very short period of time, which can result in poorly planned financial models.


Think Evolution

The most effective, economically sound cloud designs available today are the private cloud with managed services. Don’t think of it as “revolution,” instead, think of it as “evolution.”  


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This article was previously published in the print edition as "Surveillance Managed Services Delivered via the Private Cloud."

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