There are more high-resolution cameras out there than ever before, and they’re producing better, cleaner and much more video surveillance data. In addition, compliance and business requirements are driving a need for longer retention times.
Besides surveillance, customers are looking to use cameras 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 — real-time and forensic.
Real-time analytics are something clients are already familiar with; the kind that we picture when we think of surveillance: the security officer sitting in a security operations center watching footage to keep an eye out for dangerous actors or a potential 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. 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.
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 can include a crashed or totally lost server from both natural and manmade 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 more than 100 racks of servers all in one datacenter and were continuing to add servers at a rapid pace.
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.
In considering more modern video surveillance infrastructure, data retention should be top of mind. 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. Losing data when an NVR goes down doesn’t just mean losing footage; it can mean losing crucial business intelligence.
Fortunately, 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 install 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 continuing the legacy approach indefinitely vs. switching to a modern infrastructure — plus the risk and resulting cost of losing 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.
With the client I mentioned earlier, 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.
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 at data management provider Quantum.
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