TYPICALLY, AS THE DEMAND FOR VIDEO SURVEILLANCE INCREASES, so does the need for video storage. This means that business is booming for those offering video storage solutions.
“The overall increase in physical security measures has significantly increased the need for larger and larger video surveillance retention and storage,” says Jay Jason Bartlett, CEO of Cozaint Corp., San Diego.
Bruce Milne, chief marketing officer and vice president of business development, Pivot3, Louisville, Colo., says that the video storage market had been lacking in innovation until the recent improvements in analytics, which have precipitated a need for more capital infrastructure.
“The application of software to define and manage the infrastructure resources underpinning security storage deployments has created new standards for data resilience, automation for simplified management and efficient use of expensive storage, networking, memory and processing resources — all critical components for a reliable security infrastructure,” Milne says.
Gary Hoffner, vice president of Photo-Scan of Los Angeles (PSLA), Simi Valley, Calif., agrees, saying that the evolution of artificial intelligence, deep learning and edge inferencing have expanded the IoT and OT landscape with new applications, growing the need for additional storage to accommodate the increasing number of IoT devices being deployed to capture data.
This has all led to video storage taking on a greater role in the security ecosystem, says Jason Burrows, regional sales director, Western U.S., IDIS, Coppell, Texas. “Consequently, metadata storage is becoming more critical for the increasing number of video users who are reaping the enhanced security and operational benefits metadata — together with AI analytics — can deliver.”
The growth in recent years has been tremendous, adds Jim Cooper, vice president of technology, Integrated Security & Communications, Millstone, N.J. “From longer video retention times required by various regulations, to higher resolution video becoming commonplace, we are installing storage arrays that are often larger than the rest of the customer IT infrastructure.”
How can you capitalize on this growing need for better video storage solutions? Here are some important considerations and opportunities in the market.
COVID-19 & Cloud
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe and the majority of offices sent employees to work from home, remote access to video storage became a necessity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on how video is being used, as well as how it is being stored,” says Joshua Cummings, vice president of technology at VTI Security Inc., Burnsville, Minn. “It has become increasingly important for businesses to remotely access their video to monitor social distancing, occupancy, staffing levels and to perform contact tracing. To do that, their needs have shifted to solution sets that are easy to remotely access, review and manage.”
As end users’ needs for video storage change, the conversation increasingly leads to cloud solutions.
“While COVID-19 hasn’t changed the need for video storage, it has changed the idea of where it should be stored,” says Troy Wideman, regional marketing manager of recording and software products at Bosch Security Systems, Fairport, N.Y. “More customers are now asking whether it should be stored in the cloud, on-premise or both.”
Eugene Kozlovitser, director of information technologies at BCD International, Buffalo Grove, Ill., says it has been interesting to see how businesses moving to work from home has affected the storage market. “What’s been really happening recently is a pretty substantial push to the cloud or hybrid infrastructure to offload the cloud storage for video surveillance. I know the cloud has been around for a while in the IT space … but it’s been more of a reality for the video surveillance space with improvements in bandwidth and equipment that allow it to be more of a realistic option for the surveillance space — and that’s just in the past 12-18 months,” Kozlovitser says.
“The question regarding cloud and video surveillance has recently changed from ‘why cloud?’ to ‘which cloud?’” says Martin Renkis, vice president of OpenBlue Security and Innovation at Johnson Controls, Milwaukee. “We have seen a growing number of our customers and prospects considering video storage in the cloud as a check-the-box option. The availability, ease of use, options and cost of cloud storage have improved. Options such as cost-effective cloud storage at about one-third the price of typical cloud storage with the feature of storing up to five years of video in the cloud are opening possibilities that previously didn’t exist.”
Cloud storage also provides integrators with a better way of managing their customers’ systems by providing a view into the status of devices and stored video, Wideman says.
But while the capabilities of the cloud are ever-improving, it doesn’t come without its own challenges.
“Cloud storage has the challenge of understanding the complete bandwidth and storage required for 24/7 or event-based recordings,” Wideman points out. “Many customers simply aren’t prepared for the type of upload bandwidth and storage costs that are associated with cloud storage. Therefore, it is imperative they help their customers understand this and have a solution that meets the need.”
Because of challenges like this, Burrows says the adoption of cloud storage is perhaps not happening at the speed which he and others in the industry expected.
“Due to increased remote working over the past year, there’s been a great deal of hype around the benefits of cloud video, including cloud storage,” he says. “And while cloud storage for a lot of business data is undoubtedly the future, we’re not seeing the speed of adoption that was originally predicted.”
While he has received more inquiries from customers asking about the benefits of cloud storage, Burrows says that most businesses are continuing to use traditional video storage solutions.
“Off-the-shelf and preconfigured NVRs still remain a top choice, but equally, customers are looking toward servers optimized for surveillance operations,” Burrows says. “So, while no one is in much doubt that future storage is likely to be multi-cloud, we’re not yet seeing the touted mass adoption due to costs or concerns around limitations, latency and cybersecurity.”
Opportunities for Integrators
So how do you carve out a space for yourself in the video storage market? By providing value, simply.
“The key to finding opportunity in video storage is to provide value,” Cummings says. “The solutions need to differentiate themselves from off-the-shelf hardware. The products need to be easily deployed, purpose-built and competitively priced. There needs to be additional value to end users. They have to make a decision regarding whether to provide their own servers and storage or to allow the integrator [to do it]. If the solution doesn’t provide additional value, it’s hard to win the storage component of the sale.”
Kozlovitser says he’s seeing a trend of end users demanding more out of their video storage. “[The old storage solutions] might have been good to use the past couple of years, but nowadays you have a lot of these different devices coming out that can do a lot more than they used to, especially with built-in analytics.”
Not only are they demanding better storage solutions, but end users also want storage to cost less.
“Our market is always cost sensitive, so customers continue to value efficient use of storage resources and better effective utilization rates,” Milne says. “But increasingly, customers are looking for their infrastructure to multi-task and handle other applications like access control and video analytics. Many customers are also asking about creative architectures such as edge data collection with centralized storage, private cloud configurations, infrastructure they can subscribe to as a service, and how they can manage federated but distributed deployments in a more centralized and automated manner.”
All of these considerations show the importance of working closely with the end user to create a storage solution that’s right for them.
“Don’t fall into the pattern of, ‘This job is just like my previous job so I can just put in the same system,’” warns Sanjay Challa, chief product officer, Salient Systems Corporation, Austin, Texas. “Often, there are important differences that can have a significant impact on storage and the overall system, including the need for remote access, retention policies, framerates and resolutions.”
Wideman provides some sample issues to explore with your customer: “Does the end user need 24/7 recording or event recording? How much throughput will the entire recording architecture need to handle increasing resolutions? As cameras with higher resolutions are added, the system can handle fewer numbers of cameras. These are some common mistakes that can be made when determining what the storage needs to accomplish.”
Take all of your customer’s unique needs into consideration, and success should follow.
“There will always be a need for video storage,” says Ashley DeFazio, security sales specialist at Dagostino Electronic Services Inc., Pittsburgh. “Whether that is cloud-based or a physical appliance — for long-term use, liability purposes or even in some government standards like medical Cannabis cases — there are always opportunities for storage.”