VSaaS and video streaming: The growth of the cloud

The growth of video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) and cloud-recording is giving security planners a new set of options for extending what they do with surveillance, as well as opening up the market to smaller non- professional security users.

VSaaS offers organisations both a wider choice of how they use video technology and how they pay for it. At the start of the year a new cellular-based surveillance service for Saudi Arabia was launched by Etihad Etisalat Company (Mobily) and its Saudi Arabian integration services partner TeleQualitas using the EdgeVis Live platform developed by US technology company Digital Barriers. The solution can potentially be used for wide-scale safe city schemes, video streaming from moving vehicles, live video from body worn devices and advanced critical infrastructure protection.videostream

Such cellular based video solutions are in high demand, says Mobily, especially among law enforcement, defence and security agencies. Demand is rising globally too. The world market for VSaaS is projected to reach US$1.7 billion by 2020, according to a report published in September by Global Industry Analysts Inc. The report highlights demand what it calls ‘affordable & commoditised’ video surveillance services.

There is certainly a good case for service providers for offering VAaaS: for them the recurring revenue stream provided by this business model offers steady cash flow. For customers, the subscription billing based service delivery model may also be attractive, with lower up-front investment and predictable costs.

Among key end-use applications, the GIA report states that the transportation sector, comprising public transits, city surveillance and highways, accounted for nearly 15% of the global video surveillance and VSaaS market in 2013. Other significant end-use application segments analysed in the report include residential, hospitality, health care, stadiums and retail.

Axis Communications is promoting a ‘security as a service offering’ to smaller businesses and those looking for simplicity and trouble-free CCTV coverage. “By adopting a hosted video solution, you don’t need any server or recording equipment on site -all you need is Axis cameras and an internet connection,” says the company. With this model all video is uploaded to the cloud and stored by the service provider-such as the installer -who manages the solution, while mobile viewing apps allow users to easily access their sites. “All of our solutions are designed with open IP standards that mean they can easily connect with your existing IT equipment. They’re flexible and scalable, and will work out of the box with your network, routers, screens, computers, tablets and smartphones.”

Pacific Controls offers a secure VSaaS service aimed at video surveillance for public security. It says its clients have a one-stop-shop solution for end-to-end surveillance with options to retain information in central cloud storage. “Pacific Controls offers low cost, high functionality surveillance with real-time management capability, built in analytics, cloud based economic models and deployments verified at scale in other multinational telecommunications/enterprise companies around the world.”

With these hosted or managed video services, video from customer IP cameras is transmitted to Pacific Controls’ Cloud Services secure cloud infrastructure. Transmission of the video is made through streaming protocols via communications networks. “Our solution eliminates the need to store recordings of all videos from every camera in the video servers. These recordings are kept in Pacific Controls Cloud Services telco-grade cloud platform and can be viewed using a web browser or a smartphone or tablet app.” A package from the company can include IP based hi-resolution fixed/PTZ cameras; local NVRs & storage with VMS as required; centralised storage on the cloud and local video recording with archiving on the cloud plus on line access to live & recorded video.

Looking at Saudi Arabia, Mobily says growth of VSaaS so far been hampered by the limitations of real-time video streaming and says the launch of its range of solutions will introduce reliable, live, high­definition video streaming to the market for the first time. Digital Barriers’ TVI software platform can deliver secure distribution of high-definition, real-time video from anywhere to anywhere, and features end-to-end security, and the ability to stream usable live video over 60% less bandwidth than standard technologies. This efficient use of available bandwidth enables solutions such as EdgeVis Live to deliver increased cost savings, says the company. It reports that EdgeVis Live has been sold into more than thirty countries, and counts some of the most prominent defence and security agencies in the world as its customers, as well as an increasing number of commercial organisations. So cloud video can help organisations manage video surveillance for multiple locations from any internet-enabled device, with access provided for both system owners and security personnel.

A number of users can view the video at the same time based on, for example, e-mail alerts pinned to specific events determined by the user. Start up or expansion can be made easier to manage: with no PCs or software to install, users can be up and running quickly and with minimal disruption. And with systems offering compatibility to a wide range of cameras users can expand their existing systems rather than starting from scratch. Software upgrades and system maintenance can be carried out remotely without the need for engineer visits and, even more attractively for many users, without the need for any customer involvement.

There are good arguments against relying on VSaaS for critical applications where loss of connection and interrupted recording could cause significant problems. A combined solution of VSaaS and local ‘edge’ recording may provide a useful answer in some cases, though of course, this may reduce the economic advantage of a purely VSaaS solution depending on the scale of the system.

Sceptics also point out that burdening corporate networks with CCTV image traffic can have a significant impact on performance, due to the bandwidth demands of video streaming. But new generation VSaaS systems are designed to make bandwidth consumption more manageable. EdgeVis is said to provide real-time video streaming with 60% less bandwidth than standard technologies. “Standards-based video transmission systems struggle to deliver a quality service when operating over wireless networks,” says the company. “Video streams stall and break up, and delivering video with several seconds’ latency is the only way to deliver smooth frame rates. “EdgeVis Live is ideal for getting video from moving vehicles such as buses, trains or even ambulances, as well as those difficult-to-protect remote assets such as oil pipelines and power substations. With rapid deployment kits, it is also ideal for safeguarding high profile events or protecting public safety.” Developed for the demanding world of military surveillance, where losing a video feed or even a few seconds’ latency may be the difference between life or death, EdgeVis Live is now being offered to users in the defence, law enforcement, transport, energy and public­safety markets in more than 30 countries worldwide. Proving how much can be done with video streaming solutions of this kind will surely pave the way for further growth in VSaaS and make it a useful tool for security planners.

View this feature in our online issue.

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