While the cloud may seem at first glance to reduce or even outright eliminate some of the burdens of storing video on traditional appliances, there are several factors that many people fail to take into account when considering the cloud for their application. For example, the proliferation of high-definition cameras, which while they increased the value of video data they have also subsequently increased bandwidth demand. Most organizations simply don’t have the bandwidth capacity to support streaming hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of HD cameras, to the cloud simultaneously, which makes having some type of onsite storage solution absolutely critical.
Given the desire among many businesses and government entities in retaining video over longer periods of time for analytical and evidentiary purposes, cloud storage would seem like the perfect solution with the ability it provides organizations to scale up or down as storage needs demand. Also, with many companies now implementing “green” initiatives across the enterprise, cloud storage can help organizations eliminate the numerous servers needed to store video data, which can literally cost thousands of dollars each year to run and cool down in their IT closets.
There are a few misconceptions about cloud storage, but the most common is that it is less expensive than on-premises storage.
Bandwidth is the Achilles heel of any cloud deployment. Although bandwidth costs have come down considerably in recent years, a big pipe and a fast switch is a necessity in order get all of that video in and out of the cloud. Quite often bandwidth requirements underestimated due to the nature of compression technology and scene complexity. Dedicated networks for surveillance require fast switches and network administration resource(s) to configure and maintain, in either case (cloud or on-premises) you still need network administration – a cost that is often overlooked. Lastly, support costs from cloud storage providers have to be factored into the equation as they are certainly not free.
Storing large volumes of ‘active’ surveillance data in the cloud doesn’t make economic sense when you start to consider the cost associated with transferring it in and out of the cloud. For short-term archiving, cloud storage may make sense if the video is exported from the VMS and used as stand-alone media files. Integrators and end users should consider how a change in retention requirements, say from 30 days to 60 days to 90 days will impact their cost. Cloud storage looks less attractive the more the data you store and the longer you need to retain it.
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