11 Sep A path to digitalisation
V. Hrytsevich, CEO, of 3dEYE Inc., explores the challenges faced by organisations with traditional on-premise or hardware-based video surveillance approaches and how Pure Cloud Video Surveillance as a-Service (VSaaS) architecture could address these challenges.
Cloud computing has become a vital foundation for digital innovation, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become the preferred model for consuming services and information in the business world. Cloud platforms have enabled the development of new technologies in areas such as security, artificial intelligence (AI), digital infrastructure, intelligent transportation systems, data services and the Internet of Things (IoT). Historically, organisations have used an on-premise approach to video surveillance that involves maintaining all necessary hardware, software and services locally. This approach can be complex and time-consuming, requiring specialised technical skills and significant upfront capital investment.
The total cost of ownership of such an approach includes hardware maintenance and upgrades. Scalability is achieved by buying extra hardware, and often license upgrades or extra licensing is required. Software for a client to access such a video surveillance system is required for operators, managers and end-users. Redundancy and reliability require even more investment into hardware, networking, software and IT team resources to manage and maintain the system. Cybersecurity and compliance are moved onto the customer’s shoulders, where the customer’s IT team is now responsible for hardening the network, regular updates of server software and operating systems, end-user client software, monitoring the network, and a multitude of other security-related tasks. To avoid critical loss of footage, duplication of storage and timely monitoring needs to be introduced. The IT team has to track hardware depreciation and change it in a timely fashion, which becomes very complex in case service uptime and video archiving cannot be interrupted. While small business customers, for the sake of lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO), can ignore the security and continuity of video surveillance service, it’s usually not an option for medium, large businesses, or the public sector.
To address these challenges and leverage the benefits of fast-growing public cloud offerings, a new Cloud-based Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS) model was introduced. The public cloud not only introduced scalable resources on demand but also allowed the outsourcing of the full product ecosystem, including reliability, security, compliance, management and many other concerns. It’s no surprise that only three companies (AWS, Azure and Google) managed to deliver successful public cloud infrastructure. The remarkable growth of internet bandwidth throughput available to customers fueled the expansion of clouds. It’s important to point out, however, that the VSaaS commercial delivery does not equate to a cloud-based solution architecture.
VSaaS involves the use of video surveillance equipment and technology as a subscription or consumption-based service, with the service provider managing the systems and providing access to footage and other data over the Internet. This can be a cost-effective and convenient solution for organisations that need to monitor their premises and protect their assets.
The commonly used categorisations of VSaaS systems are:
- Pure cloud (sometimes labelled as
‘hosted’ but that reference does not
distinguish between a professional
public cloud and a private cloud);
Pure cloud VSaaS means that video management, processing and analytics are done in the public cloud with a direct camera-, NVR- (or other IoT device-)-to-cloud connection without additional on-premise hardware such as bridges or servers. Edge backup is usually done by utilising a camera SD card or NVR to synchronise the data with the cloud.
There is no software required on the client side; management and monitoring are done through a web browser, with mobile apps targeting primarily the end-users. The Pure Cloud minimises customer exposure to maintenance, allows easy adoption with existing or new installations, and provides the best TCO in comparison to other types of VSaaS architecture.
The Hybrid VSaaS (camera-to-bridge/ server-to-cloud) is a configuration where an NVR-like device or servers, usually named bridges or connectors, are installed on-premise. Such devices connect to a cloud and send cameras’ video streams to the cloud, and cloud storage is provided. Centralised management is provided in the cloud web-based interface for such devices and cameras. Similar to an NVR, some video processing and analytics can be done on such a device.
The main benefit of such an approach is edge backup and the option to view camera streams utilising a local network connection, similar to the situation where monitors are connected to an NVR to view footage on-site. The cons of such an approach are almost the same as with classic VMS: initial hardware cost and licensing; a single point of failure of the bridge; and scalability limitations. This model works well where there’s no need for rapid scaling, and the number of cameras per hardware piece deployed and its processing capacity is not important. Managed VSaaS is an option to add offsite storage and remote management to an existing VMS (Video Management System). A common trend now is for traditional video management software providers to offer remote managed services following the trend of cloud proliferation in the video surveillance industry. Such vendors connect clients remotely to cameras and local servers through one of the cloud providers, like AWS or MS Azure. This model has the benefit of a mature VMS, but it also has all the issues of a classic VMS – high TCO; initial hardware cost and licensing; single point of failure unless you invest in more hardware and licenses; scalability limitations; and high network bandwidth requirements for viewers as the traffic is distributed from the local network to all viewers. All the positive cloud features which are commonplace nowadays – such as sharing, clients’ mobile apps and push notifications, public APIs and integrations, and many others – are limited and cumbersome to use.
Cloud infrastructure can furthermore be divided into private and public:
A private cloud is a cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organisation, whether managed internally or by a third party, and hosted either internally or externally. Every step in the private cloud project raises security issues that must be addressed to prevent serious vulnerabilities. Self-run data centres are generally capital-intensive. They have a significant physical footprint, requiring allocations of space, hardware and environmental controls. Furthermore, the computational power of co-location or a number of data centres without the public cloud connection always bears a risk of lower redundancy, and reliability, and opens the system to additional points of cybersecurity failure. Such a solution has a lower cost for the VSaaS service provider, but ultimately, end-users bear the cost by committing to lower durability and higher risks.
Public cloud providers like AWS offer several benefits compared to private clouds or colocation-hosted environments:
Scalability: Public cloud services are
highly scalable, which means that users
can easily increase or decrease their
computing resources as needed. This is
particularly beneficial for businesses that
experience fluctuations in demand.
Cost-effectiveness: Public clouds
typically operate on a pay-as-you-go
model, which can be more cost-effective
then investing in and maintaining your
private cloud infrastructure.
Access to a wide range of services:
Public cloud providers offer a wide range
of services, such as storage, computing,
and databases, that can be easily
integrated and scaled as needed. This can
save businesses time and resources when
compared to building and maintaining
these services in-house.
Automatic software updates: Public
cloud providers are responsible for
maintaining and updating the underlying
infrastructure, which can save businesses
from having to perform these tasks on
Location Independence: Cloud
providers like AWS have multiple data
centres across the world. This allows
businesses to easily operate globally and
access data and services from anywhere.