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.


Keeping Stored Video Secure

With cybercrime and hackings increasing over the past year, vulnerabilities in video storage systems have been thrown into the spotlight.

“Cybersecurity is becoming much more stringent for this type of equipment because it is heavily reliant on edge devices, and they tend to go without anyone looking at them for a long period of time,” says Eugene Kozlovitser of BCD International. “This gives the intruders a greater capability of getting into these systems, and then they can get into the vital workings of the whole corporate infrastructure.”

The damage that can be done in the case of a hacking makes this risk critical, says Dagostino Electronic Service’s Ashley DeFazio.

“Cybersecurity is an immediate and all-encompassing concern,” DeFazio says. “Not only must the hardware be secured against any backdoor exploitation, but the server and the network must follow industry standard best practices. Change any default passwords, ensure firewalls are in place, manage your personnel so that user permissions for the server are accurate and assigned appropriately to a limited pool of users.”

No one wants to be responsible for a camera breach. One of the more recent cautionary tales involved Verkada, in which a data breach allowed an international group of hackers to gain access to 150,000 security cameras deployed in hospitals, prisons and companies like Tesla.

“The cybersecurity and privacy of data remains the number one concern of our customers today,” says Mark Renkis of Johnson Controls. “With the recent Verkada and Ubiquiti hacks, which reportedly allowed full access to recorded video from any camera on the system, security is not something to be assumed or expected simply because some literature says a solution is cybersecure.”

Since it’s reasonable that not all integrators are natural experts in cyber and data privacy, education on cyber risks is vital.

“You need a plan to address and mitigate the risks,” says VTI’s Joshua Cummings. “There are frameworks available from groups like NIST that can provide guidance for building the plan. There are also solutions that can be deployed to help identify and mitigate risks. Overall, our industry needs to embrace cybersecurity. We need to educate our employees and end users about the best practices when deploying systems, and we need to leverage solutions that are cybersecurity-minded. There are a lot of individual measures that when deployed together provide a layered defense against attack.”

Gary Hoffner of PSLA cautions integrators to look at service agreements closely, and ensure that the contract language and how you agree to protect the customer’s data aligns with how mature your cybersecurity standards, policies and practices are.

“Like any IoT device — particularly if they are being installed on the customer’s network — the integrator must protect the customer’s network from cyber-attack,” Hoffner says. “In my opinion, only a small percentage of integrators perform this omnipotent service effectively. The biggest challenge integrators will face in the future is their inability to participate with an end user opportunity bid or touch their network without possessing a cybersecurity certification or adopting a recognized cybersecurity standard.”

Ultimately, cybersecurity and video file integrity is key to a successful security technology program.

“Video that can be tampered with, or the integrity questioned, is of little to no value for an investigation,” says Integrated Security & Communications’ Jim Cooper. “Proper cyber hygiene begins with a few easy concepts that have huge effects on the overall security of a system. Simple things like strong passwords that get rotated can drastically cut down on potential intrusions.”


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.”


The Intersection With IT

The intersection of IT with security exists in many areas of the market. However, the integrators who work with video storage have to work more closely with IT than most, according to Eugene Kozlovitser of BCD International.

“Video storage has been progressing on the same wavelength as IT storage, so nowadays there’s a huge mixing of IT and security, and it’s all falling under the same umbrella as the IT crowd out there,” he explains. “It’s no longer your analog or your edge devices connecting to an encoder and running into an NVR or DVR. Nowadays, a lot of these systems are getting mixed together and creating a more complex framework for your IT and security personnel.”

Kozlovitser says security systems integrators are becoming more IT savvy, and it’s making them think differently about what approach they should take with video storage, who they should hire and what sort of training they should receive.

“This has become more obvious in the past 12 months where they’re trying to find more interesting ways to get staff versed in not just your regular basic analog system, but the IP video systems out there getting intermixed with the IT infrastructure that a lot of these enterprise clients currently have,” he adds.

VTI Security’s Joshua Cummings says that not only do security systems integrators have to learn to work with IT integrators, but they also have to compete with them for video storage contracts.

“Providing value is the biggest challenge,” Cummings says. “We are competing with IT integrators who do not understand the complexities of storage solutions for video surveillance. The systems we deploy spend 99 percent of their time writing files to disc. If the storage solution cannot keep up or is unavailable, the video is lost forever.”

However, the most powerful storage solutions often come from partnerships between security integrators and IT, suggests Bruce Milne of Pivot3.

“Opportunities abound to take a differentiated solution to market, and increasingly to partner with the customer’s IT organization to bring technical advancements and innovations to them,” Milne explains. “IT organizations are used to security being a use case that demands a lot of storage and creates a lot of issues with hardware obsolescence. Recent advances in infrastructure apply concepts that IT appreciates — like hyperconvergence — to the security video use case. This allows IT to better support their internal customers, and for the integrator to differentiate themselves.”


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.”