Video storage is the foundation for new video surveillance infrastructures. Depending on your platform, storage can enhance your surveillance system’s capabilities, or it can limit them. But one thing is certain: your storage decision can no longer be an afterthought.

Tremendous growth in data storage

Digital technology is transforming the surveillance industry. In fact, it’s estimated that 66 million network cameras and 28 million high-definition CCTV cameras will ship by the end of 2016. High definition has become the camera technology of choice for new installations, and that’s resulting in tremendous growth in the amount of data to be stored.

Measuring in exabytes (one exabyte (EB) is approximately equal to one billion gigabytes (GB)), some estimates predict the amount of surveillance video stored over the next two years will nearly double, growing from 3.96 EB this year to 7.89 EB in 2018. And by 2019, projections estimate 2.5 EB of video will be produced every day.

That’s a lot of data to store. Combine the growth estimates with the fact that retention times are getting longer due to changing regulations and legal requirements, and you have an industry desperately in need of more storage capacity. Hence, it’s no surprise that the enterprise storage market for video surveillance will surpass $1 billion by the end of the year.

Security project budgets

Video surveillance projects consist of many parts. Typically, project budgets are split between cameras, infrastructure, analytics solutions, video management system (VMS) software, and storage. But storage is often the largest single line-item expense with traditional implementations comprising 55-60% of the total budget dollars.

Technology decision makers and systems integrators need to evaluate the storage component of any video surveillance solution
Data management is an ongoing challenge for every organisation

In fact, the total spending for storage compared to other components in a video surveillance solution can be dramatically different. For example, the San Diego Police Department’s body-worn camera project in 2015 estimated spending $267,000 to purchase 1,000 cameras and $3.6 million (over a five-year period) on data storage and other storage-related expenses. In another instance, the Duluth Police Department project called for $5,000 to be spent on cameras compared to $78,000 (over a three-year period) on data storage. And in another case, the Los Angeles Police Department is expecting to spend $7 million to outfit 7,000 officers with body cameras while paying a five-year cost of approximately $50 million on data storage, maintenance, and program expenses.

Data management challenge

Data management is an ongoing challenge for every organisation. Factoring in the growth of surveillance video and the influx of unstructured data from the Internet of Things (IoT), which is expected to surpass 100 billion devices by 2020, the effort becomes even more difficult. As a result, storage decisions have become much more strategic.

Both technology decision makers and systems integrators working on behalf of customers need to evaluate the storage component of any video surveillance solution design carefully to ensure it meets their needs for today and tomorrow. Here are some questions to consider:

1. Does the storage solution you are considering strike the right balance of performance and retention time required while meeting the project budget? Storing data on high performance disk when it is really suited for long-term retention is expensive. Make sure your design enables you to prioritise the right storage technology and take advantage of less expensive formats such as tape and cloud whenever performance is not the main requirement.

2. Is the solution optimised for your expanding performance needs? Adding more high-definition cameras and performing real-time analytics requires high-performance storage to ingest parallel streams of high-resolution video without dropping frames or impeding processing. Make sure the storage platform you select can handle the demands of advanced video applications.

Smarter storage options, such as a multi-tier solution, can save you money and free up dollars in your budget to spend on additional cameras or analytics software

3. Will the storage platform make it easy to access the data you need, when you need it? Visibility and accessibility are important. Finding the files you need when you need them should not be a time-consuming, arduous task. Make sure your platform delivers a single view that simplifies search and retrieval of your files.

4. How well will your storage solution integrate with your existing infrastructure? Interoperability is imperative. Being locked in with one vendor or platform doesn’t provide the flexibility you need for today’s heterogeneous environments. Make sure your storage solution integrates with all major platforms, operating systems, networks, and video management solutions.

5. Will the storage platform scale to accommodate adding more devices and new technologies? Camera counts are going up. High-definition, multi-sensor units are replacing analogue And the IoT continues to evolve, adding new devices and sensors to the mix and creating untold numbers of opportunities for data analysis. Make sure your storage platform will integrate with complex data from disparate sources and will scale accordingly to accommodate the need for more capacity.

6. Does the storage solution comply with your existing security requirements? Legal and institutional requirements for data vary, depending on the type of information stored and industry regulations. Make sure your storage solution satisfies all requirements for retention, access, and security.

7. Will the storage platform easily build onto your current infrastructure without overhauling the whole system? Adding capacity onto an existing infrastructure may be the most cost-effective way to address storage challenges. Make sure your storage solution is flexible and capable of building onto your existing infrastructure in a non-disruptive fashion.

Storage is a strategic decision, and is increasingly the foundation new video surveillance infrastructures are built upon
Smarter storage options can save you money and free up dollars in your budget to spend on additional cameras or analytics software

Multi-tier storage options

Smarter storage options, such as a multi-tier solution, can save you money and free up dollars in your budget to spend on additional cameras or analytics software. Unlike solutions confined to primary storage, multi-tier options deliver high performance and give you more control over where your files are stored. Through user-defined policies, higher priority files can be stored on high-performance disk while lower priority files can be moved off to less expensive storage alternatives, such as tape or cloud.

More control saves money on storage costs. Consider this relative comparison: If high-performance primary disk costs $1, object storage costs $.35, file-based tape costs about $.18, and the cloud costs somewhere between $.08-.16. By managing data across the available tiers, you can reduce storage costs by up to 33% and still deliver the total storage capacity required.

Today, storage is a strategic decision, and is increasingly the foundation new video surveillance infrastructures are built upon. Using a multi-tier solution is the most high-performing, cost-effective approach to meeting today’s and tomorrow’s demanding capacity needs.

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Author profile

Wayne Arvidson Vice President, Strategic Alliances, Pivot3, Inc.

Wayne Arvidson is Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Pivot3 where he is responsible for managing the company’s key technology partnerships and identifying emerging players in the market. He has vast experience on best practices for video management, and is helping to drive industry transformation by educating the market on the role hyperconverged platforms can play as the foundation of a safe and smart infrastructure. He sits on the Security Industry Association’s International Relations and Government Affairs Committees, Working Groups on Body-Worn Video Technology and Homeland Security. He is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police where he is active with the Law Enforcement Information Management group.

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