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Video storage system cost considerations

Today’s intelligently-built video solutions provide the integrator with an easy-to-track cost savings over the lifespan of the project
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.


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