This article was written by Arcules CEO Andreas Pettersson and originally appeared in the spring 2019 edition of SIA Technology Insights.

Cloud Solutions Provide Multiple Advantages Over On-Premises Storage

We have been talking about the cloud for a while, but the rate of adoption within the security industry has lagged significantly behind other sectors. That is starting to change as the cloud becomes a more viable option for mid-market, distributed and enterprise companies seeking to harness real-time information gathering and evaluation, gain valuable and actionable business intelligence, and increase storage and computing capabilities.

According to Gartner, more than $1.3 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022, with key enterprise IT markets devoting 28 percent of spending to cloud services that year, up from 19 percent in 2018. Gartner also predicts that the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018, highlighting the growth that the cloud is seeing across sectors.

Cloud-based security solutions provide a new approach to detecting and mitigating threats, and applying the cloud to video takes this one step further. Integrated, intelligent video cloud surveillance solutions are emerging as a go-to tool for organizations seeking to revolutionize the way video and Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data is collected and aggregated to provide insights for both proactive security and business efficiency. But these solutions are not without critics, as this shift requires forward thinking stakeholders to move beyond the traditional, hardware-focused way of thinking.

The security industry has long relied on on-premises security solutions, often resulting in hardware-based deployments and vast data centers. For many organizations, the disruption caused by cloud-based technology is significant. Change like this does not happen overnight. It requires high levels of market awareness and education, as well as an evolution in the understanding and acceptance of the cloud. However, as other markets have discovered, the significant benefits of a cloud-based solution – especially in the realm of video data – far outweigh the perceived challenges.

Benefits of the Cloud, Simplified

Cloud-based technologies provide many benefits, including centralized management of solutions, the ability to monitor and assess risk in geographically dispersed locations, enhanced security, scalability, and flexibility of storage options.

Proactive updates

In traditional on-premises video surveillance solutions, manual updates to hardware and firmware are a time consuming and complex process. Cloud-based options provide a more proactive approach to protecting video data in order to maximize uptime and identify potential system failures. Gone are the days when someone had to manually check each and every video camera; now, time and money can be saved through automatic updates.

Increased security

As more people do business “in the cloud,” there has been an uptick in concern about cloud security. However, cloud services offer significant security advantages as a result of regular maintenance and updates, as well as automatic patches when vulnerabilities are discovered, all of which allows the companies using these services to focus on higher-value, customer-centric projects. Through 2020, public cloud infrastructure workloads will experience at least 60 percent fewer security incidents than traditional data centers, according to Gartner, highlighting the need for a shift to the cloud in many of today’s markets. Alternatively, in many legacy video monitoring systems, any open ports could be subject to exploitation if firewalls are not properly maintained.

Scalability and cost

Growth-centric mid-market and enterprise organizations with plans to expand geographically must consider the scalability of their technology infrastructure. Cloud architecture is built to scale with processing and storage needs in mind, empowering organizations to scale up (or down) without the limitations of traditional software and hardware. On-premises video surveillance can present a management and cost challenge for a growing business. As needs change and the business grows, there are hardware and storage purchase requirements in addition to camera investments that must be made. Harnessing the power of the cloud for video storage and management reduces the cost for both capital investment and management.

Storage advantages

Memoori recently reported that the world market for video surveillance products in 2018 was $17.57 billion and that this will grow to $32.64 billion by 2023. This will mean significant growth in storage needs as well. According to IHS Markit, the global enterprise and IP storage market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of around 24 percent between 2016 and 2021. However, on-premises storage solutions lack scalability and may require frequent capital investments, depending on a company’s needs. Cloud-based solutions reduce those investments.

Centralized management

A cloud-based video service enables users to centrally manage their entire surveillance system, aggregate data and transform video into intelligence. It also combines the visualization of all geographic locations into one global view, giving organizations a comprehensive picture of devices and their status at any given time, which provides an overall picture of system health. A cloud-based solution also has the potential to direct alarm notifications to a single platform that brings together the corresponding video to enhance and streamline footage for investigations.

Bolstering Security With Video-Based AI

To achieve the full potential of cloud-based video, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are being incorporated to enhance video service offerings. By leveraging these offerings, companies can utilize video data in ways they never imagined, helping them make better-informed decisions that can transform how they respond to security alerts. As more video data is added, the machine learning models become better adjusted to what is considered “normal” and what might be an anomaly for an organization.

For example, a smart, cloud-based video solution does not just alert a security guard to an intruder; it triggers other IoT sensors to lock down the building and call the police. This technology can notify operators if a person appearing on a video feed might be in a restricted access area. Instead of only functioning as a source of forensic evidence after an incident has occurred, an integrated cloud-based video solution becomes a source of proactive intelligence that can enable personnel to respond immediately to events. Cloud-based services can also leverage AI and machine learning to improve video camera capabilities, a function that is not available with traditional on-premises solutions.

Additional functionalities are being developed every day, including crowd density monitoring and suspicious behavior identification. These tools allow security personnel to observe in real time what they could once only see in retrospect. With intelligent technology, video shifts from being static to being dynamic in nature, and intelligent analytics can make it useful not only for security, but also for business operations.

Adding Real-Time Business Intelligence

For years, business owners used video cameras as an investigative tool and nothing more. Now, though, AI algorithms are working with video and IoT sensor data to provide companies with business insights that can improve operations.

Cloud functionality adds significant value, as well. Most of the unstructured video data that is collected becomes structured once it is pushed into an integrated video cloud service. In the cloud, video data can be combined with IoT sensor data, such as information from access control and building management tools. As a result of all of these data sources being aggregated in the cloud, businesses are able to identify patterns, investigate anomalies and optimize for efficiency, all from a single platform, no matter the geographic location.

For example, in a hotel, the solution enables management to monitor guest movement, which could assist properties with addressing security concerns and optimizing workflows. A number of markets, in addition to retail and hospitality, are poised to gain significant benefits from the adoption of cloud-based video services, including professional services, distributed environments, enterprise locations and more.

A Valuable Solution Into the Future

Integrated video cloud surveillance allows customers the ability to use a single, unified platform to monitor an entire network of devices and cameras across multiple locations, keeping simplicity, reliability and IT security in mind. Integrated video cloud surveillance is a valuable resource for organizations looking to scale while minimizing operating expenses.

While the security industry is still learning about the possibilities that the cloud brings to the table, it is important to note the many advantages it presents to customers who look to manufacturers, integrators and software providers to present a viable, secure and easy-to-use option for managing video and other IoT sensors. Before this technology is implemented, however, the industry must first clearly understand the business and security value that it provides.