Strategic management of costs is important when considering video storage systems Costs are at issue when considering any component of a video system. Strategic management of costs is especially important when considering video storage systems because storage accounts for such a large cost component of networked systems. Gartner’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) As enterprise products begin to dominate the video storage market, more attention needs to be addressed to Gartner’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), says Jeff Burgess, president and CEO of BCDVideo. This concept takes it beyond the initial purchase costs, and also factors in management and support, the opportunity cost of downtime, and other productivity losses. “It’s especially true these days as more and more, video data is being analysed for business purposes,” says Burgess. “After all, they are counting on it to run their project. The video doesn’t get recorded if the recorder is not working or continually freezing up.” ‘Cost of power, pipe, and people’ Burgess urges integrators and end users to ask themselves: What is the video recorder really costing me over the course of the five-year project? It’s likely a racked solution, so in IT terminology that “costs power, pipe, and people.” “Take the people out of the mix,” Burgess says. “You should not need to roll a truck to the site every time there is an issue. Especially after a warranty service call. The system should automatically accept the replacement drive and bring the data over to it within the existing RAID settings, without the integrator’s on-site presence needed. The integrator really needs to look under the hood to see what else the system can provide other than simply being a storage box or a box of parts from multiple brands, not meant to work together.” Finding the right balance of control, performance, scalability and availability to keep up with and effectively exploit the surveillance data deluge allows organisations to avoid painful and costly upgrades Today’s intelligently-built video solutions provide the integrator with an easy-to-track cost savings over the lifespan of the project versus buying boxes on the cheap, says Burgess. “Today’s savvy integrator realises it doesn’t take many truck rolls to lose all those front-end savings, which are now eating away at their profits.” Camera with SD cards Another cost factor is to focus more on the utilisation of the SD cards in the camera. Utilising cards within the cameras creates a very inexpensive way of adding redundancy to a solution, says Burgess, who notes that most VMS companies can pull the video from the SD cards should there be an interruption in the network or at the head end. Educate yourself Veracity recommends asking a lot of questions to guide system design and minimise costs. What retention time do you need? What would you wish? Do you want to relay on video motion detection, or would you prefer to find a system that allows you to record low frame rate 24/7 and then increase frame rate on motion? Does your storage choice allow you to use low cost drives? Does it use a huge amount of power? Is it overly complex? “Educate yourself about the choices,” says Scott Sereboff, CEO of Veracity USA. “Look around. Consider the alternatives. You have a choice that does not include a RAID storage system with an $800-plus per terabyte price tag.” "Starting with a solution that takes minimal install and tuning, and is proven to scale well beyond current needs, future proofs the system for the short- and long-term for the customer and the integrator", says Jeff Adams, director of sales, surveillance solutions, DDN Storage solutions Balancing performance, capacity and availability Finding the right balance of control, performance, scalability and availability to keep up with and effectively exploit the surveillance data deluge allows organisations to avoid painful and costly upgrades, says Jeff Adams, director of sales, surveillance solutions, DataDirects Network (DDN) Storage solutions. “Performance needs to scale to allow for increasingly demanding playback and/or analytics features. Capacity needs to scale non-disruptively as cameras are added, while resolutions and retention periods may increase over time. Availability at scale is tricky; something as simple as slow rebuild times becomes critical in larger systems – endangering availability and system data integrity.” In addition to new installations, DDN does a healthy business in replacing underpowered infrastructures that deliver on the initial requirements but fail on scaling, says Adams. The most frequent culprits when a video surveillance site fails and needs a significant replacement/upgrade include: single controller architectures, silent data corruption, data loss from secondary failures during drive rebuilds, performance impact of rebuilds, alternates to RAID6 data protection, and lack of experience scaling into the petabyte or multi-petabyte range. Many mid-range video surveillance storage “solutions” take more than a week to install and tune, and cannot handle significant scale, adds Adams. For end users, this limits the ability to add cameras, capacity and demand (playback, analytics and system consolidation). For integrators, this means a lot of “care and feeding,” and frequent completion delays up front, as well as increased support considerations throughout the life of the project. “Starting with a solution that takes minimal install and tuning, and is proven to scale well beyond current needs, future proofs the system for the short- and long-term for the customer and the integrator,” says Adams. It also keeps costs low.
The fundamental value of data is widely apparent in modern society, and its loss may have significant consequences Video data is critical to today’s enterprise. The latest video storage systems must offer dependable operation that doesn’t risk loss of that critical data. DDN - When performance matters “Not only is bandwidth very important, but functionality cannot be lost when a storage system is having a bad day,” says Jeff Adams, director of sales, surveillance solutions, for DDN (DataDirects Network) Storage solutions. That importance is reflected in DDN’s motto: “When performance matters.” “If you pull a drive out of a running DDN system, the system monitoring tools will show you that the video data destined for those particular drives is actually being captured or journaled – not lost forever as with competing storage solutions,” says Adams. “When the drives come back online, the journaled data is written in a partial rebuild state as normal operations continue. This dramatically increases overall system performance, reliability and dependability in comparison to competing storage solutions that need to perform full rebuilds from parity each time a drive fails.” DDN systems are architected to continue delivering maximum performance even in adverse conditions, Adams adds. With DDN, entire drive enclosures can go offline while remaining operational with zero data loss. Importance of data recovery service A critical area that can be overlooked in video storage relates to the reliability and rescue capability of storage drives, according to Seagate Technology. The fundamental value of data is widely apparent in modern society, and its loss may have significant consequences; this is particularly true in an area where the maintenance of data is often strictly regulated. “It is crucial, then, that end-users take steps to ensure that the storage solution in their surveillance system is covered by a data recovery service,” says Henk Van Den Berg, Seagate’s European sales director. To ensure that such opportunities are exploited, the storage industry must work to communicate the available options in a way that clearly demonstrates how they fulfil the vast and specific needs of surveillance storage, he says. The storage industry must work to communicate the available options in a way that clearly demonstrates how they fulfil the vast and specific needs of surveillance storage Intelligent video recorders Dependability relates not only at the system level, but at the internal component level as well, says Jeff Burgess, president and CEO of BCDVideo. The integrator should not only expect, but demand, a scalable, stable solution that can be remotely managed, comes pre-imaged, ready-to-rack, and fully covered, he says – “and a manufacturer who’s got his back.” The technology capabilities of today’s intelligent Video Recorders (IVR) have turned the storage unit from a JBOD (just a Box of Disks) to a complete management and notification centre. In addition to capturing and redirecting the video streams, the system can alert the administrator on system fluctuations based on thresholds set by the administrator. This includes both those within the system – CPU temperature, cooling fans, and memory usage – as well as active peripherals attached to the network, such as network switch ports, camera activity, client viewing stations and video streams. “We relate to all those insurance commercials promising a lower rate within 15 minutes,” says Burgess. “Notice how they never tout the quality of their service, just the fact that they can save you money in 15 minutes. But is that why you buy insurance? Don’t you really want it for if/when something happens? In that regard, what do you do when something catastrophic happens and you need to find that frame sequence, or restore and view the video from a certain date, yet you can’t because the data is corrupt or simply not there? Bet you wish you had those 15 minutes back.”
One key misconception is that solid-state drives (SSDs) are going to replace hard disk drives (HDDs) Like many areas of the security market, the field of digital video storage systems has its share of misconceptions and missed opportunities. We called on manufacturers of these systems to set the record straight. Hard disk drives (HDDs) will continue to rule One key misconception is that solid-state drives (SSDs) are going to replace hard disk drives (HDDs), says Henk Van Den Berg, European sales director at Seagate Technology. While it is true that the pricing for SSD is dropping, cost-per-gigabyte for HDD actually goes down as capacity increases – so a 3 terabyte drive is only $30 more expensive than 2 terabyte, for instance, while 2 terabytes costs almost $40 more than 1 terabyte. With SSD, because of the different economics of the device, twice the capacity typically means twice the cost. Due to these economies of scale, HDD will continue to win in the foreseeable future as the technology of choice, says Van Den Berg. “There also persists a widespread misconception that all HDDs are the same, which means that digital storage solutions are often selected based on cost alone rather than suitability – the storage equivalent of putting bicycle wheels on a Ferrari,” says Van Den Berg. “The bottom line is that without the proper drive, even the most sophisticated surveillance system could be rendered ineffective. “As the function of video surveillance evolves, so too must the technological specifications of video surveillance storage solutions,” he adds. An outcome of the one-storage-solution-fits-all misconception is that end users are missing a major opportunity to optimise the efficacy of surveillance systems One-storage-solution-DOES-NOT-fit-all An outcome of the one-storage-solution-fits-all misconception is that end users are missing a major opportunity to optimise the efficacy of surveillance systems, says Van Den Berg. As the uses of surveillance have expanded, the storage solutions available have similarly evolved, tailored to these new functions, he says. “The very first decision [you make] ought to be retention time and storage provider,” says Scott Sereboff, CEO of Veracity USA. “How many specifications are written with little or no thought? The end user needs to be educated on the way one choice impacts another. After all, if you choose 5 megapixel cameras and desire 30 days of retention, this selection may gut your budget. So you can only afford seven days of storage. You may wish you had understood the result of the decision prior to having made it.” Knowing retention times, having an understanding of the effect that camera choice has on it, means that camera selection can be done with the overall goal (i.e., “30 days retention at 7 FPS”) in mind and achievable, he adds. Sereboff adds: “All storage is not created equal, and you don’t have to spend 50 percent of the budget to store your video. Each missed opportunity to educate, to sell with a consultative bent, is a missed opportunity at a wider sale.” Veracity’s COLDSTORE NAS device Veracity’s COLDSTORE is a NAS device, which comes out of the box and into the system as usable storage in 30 minutes to an hour. It uses off-the-shelf hard drives, requires very little power, and even a hard drive failure can be handled with no panic required, says Sereboff. “Storage has followed IT into the complex when it has needed to remain simple,” he says. “The users wants one thing – a reliable storage system that protects data when not needed and produces it when it is needed. As cameras and video management systems become more and more complex, storage needs to be simple, straightforward and something that the end user can point to and say ‘now that I understand.’ This gives the user licence to accept more complexity in other areas, to maximise the use of complex technology, while knowing that the storage systems, the foundation of the whole enterprise, is utterly solid and totally reliable.”It is surprising how many people still think that any network attached storage will work for video, says Jeff Burgess, President and CEO, BCDVideo. “Same with those using traditional IT servers for video,” he adds. “Storage of video is more intensive on the server or storage than traditional IT data. Video servers need to be built in a proper way to manage the bandwidth. Network attached storage needs to be held to the same standard.” "All storage is not created equal, and you don’t have to spend 50 percent of the budget to store your video. Each missed opportunity to educate, to sell with a consultative bent, is a missed opportunity at a wider sale", says Scott Sereboff, CEO of Veracity USA More drives doesn’t mean better performance Just because a storage system can physically expand to much larger capacities, doesn’t mean it can do it well, inexpensively, and with low management overhead, says Jeff Adams, director of sales, surveillance solutions, DDN (DataDirects Network) Storage. “Something we run into a lot is surveillance systems that fail because of scaling issues,” he says. “Anyone can add drives, but adding linear performance, availability and management scaling is something that requires a lot of performance-drive technology behind the scenes.” When video surveillance storage systems fail, Adams says the following reasons are most often cited: Drives kept failing and overall system performance tanked during rebuilds. More/higher resolution cameras are added. Playback requirements increased. Retention times increased. Video analytics are added. Local storage at each site was too expensive to maintain and scale. “All of it can be avoided by going with a consolidated storage platform that delivers full performance, even in outage conditions, and is proven to scale performance and capacity to accommodate increased workloads as well as data growth,” says Adams.
End users in the video surveillance market are looking for higher quality images and to retain those images for longer periods. Also, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are turning to networked video surveillance in larger numbers. And video is now finding many uses outside the security market, including business intelligence and customer service applications, among others. These familiar trends are directly impacting the choice of video storage solutions being used in the market. Demand for high-resolution cameras “We are seeing requests for longer periods of video data retention,” says Jeff Burgess, President and CEO, BCDVideo. “One of the factors driving this is legal departments within companies and organisations requesting longer periods to prevent evidence from being destroyed after 31 days. We are also seeing instances of the video and the metadata within that video being utilised for business intelligence, similar to traditional IT applications. Every customer has different reasons for the longer retention, but regardless of that reason, the defining factor is capturing full ROI on having that video data.” Burgess also sees projects utilising both more cameras and higher-resolution cameras. Just one or two years ago, most customers were asking for solutions for 720p and 1080p cameras, he says, but today there are many requests for 2-megapixel and 10-megapixel cameras. “They are also looking for scalability should they want to add more cameras, or simply replace existing cameras with those with higher resolutions,” he says. “These higher-resolution cameras do more than drive up the necessary storage; they also have a severe impact on the bandwidth.” “Today’s proper recording solution needs to be able to ingest the video streams, not just be a box of hard drive bays to cover the necessary storage,” says Burgess. Longer retention period "People are looking more and more for ways to store large amounts of video for a long period of time" Another video storage manufacturer, Veracity, also sees a trend toward longer retention times and better camera image quality. “The market continues the inexorable march toward IP cameras as analogue cameras are replaced and not chosen for new work,” says Scott Sereboff, CEO of Veracity USA. “Disk drive capacity is increasing, which is bad for RAID systems as larger disk drives generally mean longer rebuild times.” He says that drive technology, the physical technology, is very similar to what it was 20 years ago in that the drives are still very sensitive to heat and vibration, which is precisely the environment created by a RAID system. “People are looking more and more for ways to store large amounts of video for a long period of time,” Sereboff says. “The cloud is constantly bandied about with no real definition of the term, and there are limited ways to get the bandwidth needed to deliver huge amounts of data.” Sereboff notes trends toward higher megapixel cameras and larger storage systems go hand-in-hand. “An end user chooses 5 megapixel cameras over 2 megapixel because they are affordable and because the user is sold (rightly or wrongly) on the ‘pretty picture’ part of the pitch,” he says. “This means a more robust network, servers capable of handling large numbers of these cameras, and a much larger storage need. In the same manner, providing a low cost way to store massive amounts of data gives the end user license to purchase more cameras or select higher definition cameras than they had previously considered. Server technology, which allows more cameras to run on one box, means that better cameras can be chosen and longer retention times allowed.” Investing in video surveillance Henk Van Den Berg, European sales director at Seagate Technology, sees the growing influx of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) turning to surveillance as the most significant opportunity for the industry. While big business may drive the need for larger, high-performance surveillance products, SMEs often understand the need to invest in CCTV but lack the knowledge or expertise to make the right choices, says Van Den Berg. In a cost-sensitive sector, there is often a need to economise, but decisions based purely on price simply won’t fit the bill. “It’s critical that the surveillance storage industry provide options that are fit for what SMEs need, and on a scale that is useful to them rather than the complex systems needed for larger companies,” says Van Den Berg. “Our storage needs inevitably grow in parallel to the increasing quality of the video footage, compliance regulations and the increasing value of the footage due to analytics,” says Van Den Berg. “The capacity of the drives must continue to increase in order to meet the scale of this need.” "It’s critical that the surveillance storage industry provide options that are fit for what SMEs need, and on a scale that is useful to them rather than the complex systems needed for larger companies" Another opportunity comes with the increased use of video surveillance not only for security, but also as a tool for research and analysis, says Van Den Berg. By studying the flow of customers through a store, for instance, a group of marketers can determine the optimal arrangement of products to drive sales. This changing purpose requires a different type of storage solution that allows users to regularly review data on an ongoing basis, rather than the more traditional use of surveillance storage that requires pulling one set of footage from a particular timeframe, he says. Video storage solutions must fit the purpose of whatever system they support, Van Den Berg emphasises. Features such as Idle-3, in which a surveillance system turns on only when activity triggers it, or rescue capability, can provide surveillance experts with important peace of mind that their data is protected, and their system is using resources as efficiently as possible. Customer-driven solutions The surveillance industry is now looking for more tailored, personalised storage solutions, says Van Den Berg. One-size-fits-all won’t work in today’s complex and exponentially growing marketplace. Just one example of a feature that is specifically tailored for surveillance storage is called “write performance.” A standard PC drive regulatory checks to make sure the data is “writes” is readable; for a surveillance storage system, that could mean missing valuable seconds of footage. “Seagate surveillance drives are engineered to write more consistently with fewer breaks to check the readability of the data, thus ensuring that the footage is fully captured, without interruptions,” he says. “The volume, velocity and variety of surveillance data are growing exponentially,” comments Jeff Adams, director of sales, surveillance solution, DDN (DataDirects Network) Storage. “The volume of data in a single surveillance implementation is moving from terabytes to petabytes, stressing VMS and storage scaling. Data velocity is increasing from megabyte to gigabyte speeds with a need for millions of input/outputs (I/Os) consuming more and more resources. Performance in these types of mixed I/O environments is increasingly a top priority, and many traditional systems do not handle variety – both large and small files, as well as both structured and unstructured data.”