The use of the cloud is increasing globally as more organizations look to reap the benefits of this flexible and scalable service-based business model. The growth of cloud-based business functions allows for security-as-a-service (SaaS) options that had previously been unavailable, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. A recent global video surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS) report by Data Bridge Market Research estimates the market will exceed $11.16 billion by 2026, registering a compound annual growth rate of 21.9 percent from 2019 to 2026.
This increase is primarily due to the SaaS approach, which shifts the burden of data maintenance and infrastructure spending to integrator partners looking to incorporate recurring monthly revenue into their business model. However, there are still some uncertainties about cloud-based security. This article will look at all aspects of cloud-based services for growing businesses, including the benefits of the technology and the options that are available.
Why Consider the Cloud for Video Surveillance?
Cloud-based video surveillance can be a highly valuable option across several vertical markets. But it has not always been seen as such. For most in the security industry, the term “cloud” has evolved from an unknown or vaguely understood technology into a comprehensive service that can provide significant value. The cloud has proven to be a highly functional, flexible and convenient technology that businesses can leverage as part of their strategies to protect and modernize their facilities. When properly managed, the cloud enables organizations to enhance operations and create a proactive and reliable data strategy to mitigate risk and make intelligent decisions. In addition, the cloud provides numerous other benefits, including:
- Centralization. One of the most valuable components of the cloud is its ability to allow users to access information from anywhere on a range of connected devices. All pertinent data is aggregated into one platform. In the event of a crisis – whether security or business-related – stakeholders can obtain the most relevant and up-to-date information in minutes.
- Scalability and Flexibility. Video is a valuable tool for any organization. As a business grows and its technological systems become more advanced, using a cloud solution to store and manage video data allows for rapid adjustment and agility, reducing the complexity that might come with expansion. With the cloud, stakeholders can gain more insight into daily operations and ensure that all organizational and security goals are met.
- Data Security. While the security of data in the cloud is a highly discussed issue, the fact is that, with proper protocols in place, the cloud can enhance data protection. By utilizing vulnerability testing, password etiquette, software patches, and encryption, stakeholders can protect sensitive data from bad actors. Additionally, public cloud providers have invested significant efforts into ensuring their networks are protected and provide maximum uptime.
- Automatic Updates. The cloud relieves IT departments of burdens related to system management, as upgrades and security fixes are automatically installed. Cloud services are therefore exceptionally beneficial for organizations with small – or nonexistent – IT teams.
- Cost Effectiveness. The investment in a cloud services model can be much more affordable than a hardware-based model. Deploying a cloud-based solution substantially reduces the upfront capital investment by introducing more of a service-based arrangement.
Options for Incorporating the Cloud
Traditional, on-premises surveillance solutions require organizations to use proprietary architecture to run the system within their own data center. Therefore, all security operations and monitoring take place in-house. Several types of businesses prefer to control all decision-making and data handling, making an on-premises solution ideal for a customized configuration that is unique to the organization’s needs. However, businesses and facilities that are interested in incorporating the cloud into their overall security posture have three options to consider.
The private cloud offers the usability, scalability and flexibility for which the cloud is known and is a viable option for those businesses looking to adopt cloud technology on their private network in order to limit access to outside users. The private cloud, however, is not without its limitations. The oversight and management of this storage solution require extensive training and knowledge of best practices for protecting the data being transmitted. In general, private cloud systems have a higher cost of ownership due to the required hardware investments and maintenance costs.
The public cloud refers to the delivery of hosted services over the internet, making it possible to shift the storage and management responsibility to a service provider. The public cloud is an optimal surveillance solution for SMBs looking to gain scalability and flexibility when it comes to streamlining video and business operations and identifying the most prominent risks facing the organization. If an organization is looking to centralize surveillance and data management, the public cloud is an excellent choice. Cloud solutions also provide automatic updates and a long-term relationship with the integrator for continued support. However, the public cloud may not be the best option for businesses lacking the bandwidth required for streaming footage. The cost of streaming video 24/7 can add up, and if a business demands extensive live viewing, an on-premises solution could make more sense.
Hybrid cloud models allow for a mix of on-premises, private and public cloud services. Forrester defines a hybrid cloud solution as “one or more public clouds connected to something in my data center.” That thing could be a private cloud or a traditional data center infrastructure. Workloads and data are then able to move freely between the various pieces, creating an advantage for those looking for a balance between the two options mentioned above – and a solution that is tailored to their needs. For example, if demand increases and exceeds the limits of an on-premises solution, the cloud solution can take over.
Additionally, while many locations are a good fit for an on-premises solution, the addition of satellite offices across a city, state or even country can change things. In this case, the addition of cloud functionalities can save a business significantly on the cost of server hardware and installation while offering a breadth of additional advantages like scalability. A hybrid cloud solution might not be the right fit, though, for an organization that requires very high speeds and large amounts of data transfer, which can create integration and capability issues. Hybrid cloud models also still require cloud expertise and management through an IT team, which may not be readily available within an organization.
Implementing a Cloud-Based Service
Despite the adoption of cloud-based services in multiple areas of organizations (think about how one saves files, conducts business, and communicates with coworkers), many of these same businesses have resisted adopting the cloud for physical security. However, for those organizations ready to take this step, there are several things to keep in mind.
Evaluating the business model is an essential first step. Before pursuing a cloud-based physical security service, leaders should answer several questions: How many locations need to be incorporated? How many cameras per location must be integrated into the system? Are there insights that can be captured that would help a business streamline operations? What level of support is required?
Evaluating bandwidth is a critical step in determining the right kind of cloud-based service to meet an organization’s needs. Low bandwidth can cause issues with the amount of data the network can handle at one time, significantly reducing the user’s ability to access critical data when it is needed.
It is also essential to determine the level of support needed within an organization. For many, the service-based model can help ensure high levels of system oversight – beyond the regular security updates – to include regular monitoring. To determine this, users must identify who will be responsible for using the system. Again, this will help give partners a better idea of what will be needed in terms of support. In short, users should find a platform that will mold to their business model. Every organization is different, so it is critical to identify a cloud-based service that can be tailored to its specific needs and to find a partner who can meet its unique service requirements.
Nigel Waterton is the chief revenue officer of Arcules. He is also a member of the SIA Executive Council.