Integrators face many challenges in today’s world. Some of them have been around for a long time, while others only joined the party recently.

For example, many systems now are using cameras with much higher resolution, which in turn drives a requirement for more storage space. On top of this, much more information is coming from cameras in terms of metadata that also must be stored and used for evaluation of recorded video and events. Sometimes this can drive the need to attach additional storage to the main server, increasing the knowledge that integrators need to make these systems work correctly.

At the same time, in the wake of COVID-19, it has become critical to highlight how the storage solution can help your customers with the need to manage social policies.


Advice for Working With Storage

“Understand completely the customer’s needs. Are they simply recording video to look for events that have already taken place, or are they using live and recorded video to manage their work site completely? This would involve utilizing the VMS as a complete solution, along with cameras, intrusion, access control, facial recognition and other systems to provide information on events as they occur or to be warned about events that could lead to consequences that are more serious.” — Troy Wideman, Bosch Safety and Security

 “Measure twice and cut once. The time you invest in calculating the proper server hardware and associated video storage will pay off massive dividends in the end.” —Jack Plunkett, chief technology officer, IPVideo Corporation

 “Find a professional system builder that utilizes the best-in-class hardware that is optimized for video and security. In the end, especially with video and security, price should not always be your main focus. Look at build to ship times. Evaluate warrantees. Is your system builder using name-brand OEM components or white box servers?” — Jason Glover, BCDVideo

 “Step one is letting go of the hammer and picking up the toolbox. And what I mean by that is getting really smart about different technologies, trade-offs and what the best fit for different use cases and not getting pulled into the hype.” — Sanjay Challa, Salient Systems


“This could include evaluating video to help define where customers should stand in line for purchases,” says Troy Wideman, regional marketing manager, Bosch Security and Safety Systems, Fairport, N.Y. “It could include the use of analytics in cameras to notify them of events, such as crowding. It also goes so far as to use analytics to provide a red/green light system to let customers know when they can enter a location based on how full the location is. With these examples, you can see that COVID-19 has allowed, in some ways, the storage solution to shine with the capabilities that have long been in place but now have a very specific reason to be put to use.”


COVID-19 & Storage

COVID-19 has brought all aspects of video surveillance — including storage — to the forefront.

“Storage has always been a critical component of a video management solution,” says David Antar, president, IPVideo Corporation, Bay Shore, N.Y. “However, in the wake of COVID-19 it has become an even more mission-critical component with the recent demands put on a video management system. Contact tracing, temperature scanning, social distancing analytics and IoT environmental sensors are now standard components of an enterprise-class video management platform and cost-effective, high availability storage is mandatory.”

A lot more people continue to work remotely, even in the security space where more surveillance operations are also happening off-site; but those are trends that were already underway.

“There’s always been a growing desire to access a lot of this stuff externally,” says Sanjay Challa, chief product officer, Salient Systems, Austin, Texas. “How that feeds into video storage is, you need more storage, it needs to be more performant. There’s often a lot of networking of complexities to managing this. But again, it’s just an acceleration of trends.”


Hardware-Based vs. Cloud-Based

While the cloud seems to become a more and more viable option for video storage each year, it’s still not quite to the point where it’s feasible for a standalone solution, says Troy Wideman of Bosch Security and Safety Systems.

“NVR or appliance-based storage solutions provide the capability to store on the network all information from cameras or any other integrated system,” he says. “In many circumstances, these installations are large enough that trying to do this similarly in the cloud would not work or necessarily be cost effective. There are many applications, especially in certain verticals such as government and correctional facilities, which will not allow video off their premises or network.”

When it comes to cyber security, local storage provides the best option, as the storage media is in the possession of the customer at their facility, says Steve Wilber, training manager, Dahua Technology USA, Irvine, Calif. “With cloud storage, you are dependent on the provider’s online protections and security infrastructure. Online companies get hacked every day, so you have to assess risk based on the customer’s level of security needs,” he says.

Moving forward, the best model may be a mix of both on- and off-premise solutions, says Seagate Technology’s Danny Lim.

“We believe hybrid will be the model that most will start to adopt,” he says. “This means that there will still be a recording device on premise just like an NVR or appliance, but it will manage certain recording days before pushing to the cloud.”


In essence, the emergence of the global pandemic has merely sped along trends that may have been slowly emerging.

“When we talk about the ‘new normal,’ it has really accelerated a lot of trends that were already in place,” Challa says. “If you never figured out how to provide secure access to video you’re storing for playback so someone can do it externally, well now your hand is forced because you can’t always have people come in for that. If you were kicking the can down the road on retention times and all of a sudden you have riots or other stuff, again your hand is forced and it’s a more challenging time and there’s more demand for these types of things. It’s not that these are brand new requirements that no one has seen; it’s that you can’t put these projects off any longer.”

When you look at challenges that exist in the current market, they can seem pretty overwhelming, says Jason Glover, vice president of sales, BCDVideo, Buffalo Grove, Ill. — starting with the most basic: an integrator’s role is to be on site, physically installing servers, video recorders, cameras, etc.

“Just starting there is daunting,” he adds. “Multiple end users and facilities are still not letting outside contractors on site, at least inside those facilities. So I think you have a physical hurdle that takes an exceptional amount of coordination, logic and a little luck. Once you get past the physical nature of everything, getting the right storage and the right amount of processing with the right warranty, etc., can be an adventure.”

As a result, storage retention times have climbed in recent months.

“Set aside for the moment all the craziness around temperature detection; we’re seeing multiple requests for longer retention of video,” Glover says. “Where normal commercial requests and use was 30, 60, 90 days, we are continuing to see one year or even multi-year. Some of this is attributed to certain HIPAA rules. Some of this is paranoia. Some of it is for long-term contact tracing. It’s amazing to think that your security, VMS and access control system is now being used to protect your organization in this crazy pandemic.”


The Intersection of Data & Video

Pandemic aside, storage is no longer a video-only proposition.

“There certainly is a trend that more data is being collected,” says Ron VanTassel, business development representative, Arrow Electronics, Centennial, Colo.

All the potential data sources end users have at their disposal can certainly pose challenges for storage solutions.

“With proliferation of IoT sensors and adoption of technologies like AI and ML, cloud and big data, it’s no longer the same,” says Danny Lim, head of global business development, Seagate Technology, Cupertino, Calif. “More data is being generated — video, metadata, etc.”

What all of this adds up to is a need for integrators to be open-minded, remembering the basics while also embracing new and emerging models and technologies.

“It’s important to understand a technology’s role and its place,” Challa says. “At the end of the day, they fill a role in the broader ecosystem, so you need to be smart about that.”