Let’s start with some good news: high resolution cameras are producing better and clearer video surveillance data. Because of this, and growing compliance requirements, businesses have more reasons to retain and find value in that data for the long-term.
This sets up our initial equation. There are more cameras out there than ever before, and they’re a higher resolution, meaning they produce much more data. In addition to this, compliance and business requirements are driving a need for longer retention times.
This is because video surveillance data is being used for more than just security — organizations are looking to use video analytics to do things like prevent shoplifting, analyze shopper behavior and scan for specific objects within frames of video.
There are a couple of different kinds of analytics at play here — real-time and forensic. Real-time analytics are something clients are already familiar with; the kind that we picture in our heads when we think of surveillance. This is the security officer sitting in a security operations center watching surveillance footage to keep an eye out for dangerous actors or a security breach.
However, businesses are relying more and more on “forensic” analytics, which is analysis of collected video data to improve things like performance, efficiency and to inform business decisions.
This is one of the reasons retention times are increasing — customers want to retain data for longer to utilize forensic analytics and maximize business value from that data. Because of this, managing video surveillance data across its lifecycle has become much more complex, and the legacy solutions for clients to store their data are unsustainable and costly in today’s climate of massive data growth.
The Current Approach
Many clients continue the legacy approach of adding more dedicated servers to keep up with their growing data storage needs and to support multiple applications. But adding servers, especially at a rapidly increasing rate to support data growth and new physical security applications, increases complexity and the risk of frame and footage loss.
Risks could include a crashed or totally lost server from both natural and man-made disasters, or data being stored in only one physical location with a legacy solution, like a standard network video recorder (NVR), when a server is compromised, the result is a complete loss of data.
Beyond these tangible risk factors, the legacy approach also requires more manpower to manage and the physical space to house the growing number of servers, the correlating costs with purchasing and supporting more hardware is unsustainable.
For example, we worked with a federal agency that had over 100 physical racks of servers all in one data center and were continuing to add additional servers at a rapid pace just to keep up with the massive amount of video data they were generating and needing to store.
With all of this in mind, one of the biggest considerations you should have is whether or not your clients are using a modern video surveillance infrastructure. And if not, what will their transition look like?
For many organizations, the transition from multiple physical servers or NVRs to a modern, unified server and storage software solution sounds complex, but it’s very simple to manage and scale as needed.
A unified solution is highly resilient, retains data even if hardware fails, can scale easily and has the added advantage of being able to run multiple physical security applications on one common infrastructure instead of needing multiple servers to do so.
Making the Transition
In making considerations for a more modern video surveillance infrastructure, data retention should be top of mind. Because of this, if your clients are using racks and racks of individual standard NVRs to record and store data, it may be time to consider a new approach.
With the advent of forensic analytics, losing data when an NVR goes down doesn’t just mean losing footage. It can mean losing crucial understanding of business intelligence.
With all those risks and benefits in mind, we can turn to how a modern infrastructure is not actually complex or difficult to set up and deploy. Today’s unified infrastructure solutions are purpose-built for video and are created to be easy to deploy and scale.
It’s important to begin by working around the sunken cost fallacy and the idea that your client may have that if they have already come this far, they might as well keep going.
The reality is that when you compare the costs of continuing the legacy approach indefinitely with the cost of switching to a modern infrastructure — in addition to the risk and resulting cost of losing critical video data when an NVR fails — the cost of the switch makes more sense in the long run. With a unified software-based server and storage infrastructure, the data is retained, and the system continues to operate, even in the event of a failure.
Earlier, we talked about a client who had over 100 physical server racks occupying their physical space. We were able to replace their many racks of NVRs with a unified server and storage infrastructure quickly and with a painless transition — and with immediate cost savings and lower risk. Now, they’re down to a dozen or less server racks, and have peace of mind their data is retained
Let’s go back to the equation from the beginning — more cameras, higher resolution, plus the need to store data longer. The solution to that equation? A simplified, unified infrastructure built to scale, reduce risk and simplify management.
It can be hard to wrap your mind around the idea that hundreds of servers needed to manage massive amounts of data can be pared down to one single, scalable platform, but it’s the reality of the future of data management, and fortunately, it’s already here.
Eric Bassier is Senior Director of Products, Quantum.
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