Four Video Storage Trends to Watch

Four Video Storage Trends to Watch

How organizations must navigate the evolving storage landscape

Data storage is becoming a hot topic in the video surveillance industry and gaining more attention as retention periods continue to increase. Many city and state governments have begun extending their storage retention periods from days to months and today, even years. San Bernardino County, Calif., for example, has increased retention requirements to a staggering five years in response to terrorist acts that have impacted their community.

Around the world, the use of video surveillance to detect, deter and prosecute crime has increased significantly over the last few years. Police and law enforcement authorities view footage as a critical tool to combat crime and ward off criminal activity — including terrorism. National tragedies and other crises have heightened public authorities’ interest in deploying video surveillance in public places. Surveillance is used widely today in the United Kingdom and progressively by law enforcement and anti-terrorism authorities in the United States and Canada, with a notable uptick since September 2001.

Finding the Space

Increases in camera resolutions and frame rates have also caused the need for video storage to grow at an unprecedented rate. Budgets for storage, however, are not growing in accordance. This challenge puts infrastructure managers in a difficult position — they must find ways to store more footage with the same static budget.

The raw capacity of storage shipped in 2016 increased by 48 percent over the previous year, and in 2017, that capacity is expected to grow at an even higher rate.1 The traditional boxed appliance model — created in part by the death of the VCR — typically has built-in storage capability (DVRs) but in a relatively low capacity. Modern video surveillance environments have evolved, and this traditional approach has become inadequate for an increasing percentage of the surveillance market. As these environments continue to be more and more data-intensive, organizations are beginning to look to scalable, tiered-storage strategies that can adapt to the changing surveillance storage landscape.

As the average camera resolution continues to rise, so does the storage behind the camera. HD-compliant 1080p 25/30 fps cameras have established themselves as the minimum expected quality required from new cameras. Panoramic and 4K cameras are two additional storage-hungry, high-growth categories gaining traction within the market. Analytics and more efficient compression technologies will reduce some storage requirements. However, these technologies are not going to offset the upsurge of data being generated by higher specification cameras, which are capturing much more information than ever before, as well as the increased video retention periods facing many cities, states and local governments.

With these analytics adding value to surveillance footage beyond simple safety, the value of video content will increase the length of time it is stored. As these requirements continue to drive data growth, it is becoming paramount to have an intentional, proactive strategy for storing surveillance footage long-term.

Video Content is Only Growing

Increased retention regulations, paired with higher resolution cameras and the introduction of body-worn cameras, will likely be a wakeup call to the video surveillance industry to reevaluate its approach to storage design. The introduction of body-worn cameras is forecast to skyrocket as well in the coming years.2 Specifically, in the United States, tens of thousands of new body-worn cameras will enter the market with the assistance of new federal funding. All of these bodyworn cameras require their footage to be retained for long periods of time – often years. Although the unit shipments of body-worn cameras are minute compared with those of traditional fixed video surveillance cameras, several parallels can be drawn between the storage headaches faced by both markets.

Many end-users tasked with maintaining body-worn cameras (typically law enforcement officers), have limited background in IT. It’s valuable for them to have an integrated system, designed with total cost of ownership in mind, that accounts for both upfront costs and maintenance costs, and is capable of accommodating changing retention rates.

Though the likelihood of reviewing video footage decreases over time, this footage should still remain accessible, whether desired or required. Increasing retention can provide anti-litigation, insurance and operational assistance. In addition, an efficient storage infrastructure can enable the use of post-recording analytics.

2018 Predictions

In 2018, we can expect to see significant changes in the video surveillance storage market, as the amount of video content required to be preserved increases. Many of the storage challenges the video surveillance will likely face in 2018 have been addressed successfully in other markets, such as the broadcast industry, where extreme amounts of data are generated but cannot be deleted. There are a few strategies facing these issues.

Increased use of multiple storage tiers. The use of storage tiers for video surveillance footage previously referred to a separate archive or directly attaching additional capacity to recorder appliances. Now we’re seeing a multitude of options designed specifically for video surveillance, which all pull together different storage tiers – in some cases storage media – into a single architecture. This allows more efficiency in varying how recorded footage is treated throughout its lifetime. In some cases, data is moved from edge to centralized storage, and occasionally into the cloud.

Additional partnerships between video surveillance suppliers and storage specialists. As storage demands increase, some video vendors are turning to traditional storage vendors to provide systems that can handle high capacities of high-resolution video files and provide storage solutions that can scale to the extent that organizations now require. In terms of video management software, this means the integration of data from different storage types, tiers and physical locations is required, while understanding the performance levels of each. Many of the major Video Management Systems have built-in tiering functionality, allowing organizations to easily implement a true tiered storage strategy.

Video surveillance vendors increase enterprise storage offerings. Storage commonly accounts for the majority of the equipment cost for higher-channel-count systems. Large capacity storage tends to be expensive to procure and costly to implement — especially without a sound architecture that balances storage requirements and the speed of access needed to recall video footage. Many times, this will result in a multi-vendor solution that brings the best in breed companies together to deliver a fully integrated, turn-key solution.

Camera and storage vendors have extremely competitive offerings. Storage for video surveillance has been behind cameras on their product development roadmap, but as more and more cameras have come to market, less attention has been put on the storage and the available capacity. This year we’ll see more enterprise storage products for video surveillance available from new vendors trying to penetrate the market. It is important to find vendors who are established in their part of the solution and know that the vendors chosen will be there providing support and feature enhancements for the foreseeable future.

Tomorrow’s Challenges

The video surveillance industry has advanced light-years from the days of the video cassette recorder; however, its implementation of enterprise storage may be forced to evolve further to meet the needs of changing storage retention requirements and new camera technologies. Video storage is quickly becoming one of the most expensive parts of a surveillance implementation, but there is hope. To meet tomorrow’s challenges and outpace storage budgets, companies will implement solutions that enable users to implement a tiered storage strategy: solutions that are tightly integrated with industryleading video management systems partners that can grow with one’s organization and video data sets over time.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Security Today.

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