Industry Professional

Total Cost of Ownership

Cloud computing, software have evolved and emerged as a popular option

As cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) have evolved, video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) or cloud surveillance, has emerged as the most popular option for businesses seeking to simplify their physical security installations.

The key benefits of cloud surveillance are:

  • Instant access from any location
  • Greater scalability and increased storage
  • Unlimited storage for unlimited time
  • Economical: pay only for what you use

One of the biggest benefits of cloud surveillance is that the total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower for cloud based solutions versus traditional systems. In general, the TCO is realized almost immediately with a cloud-based solution, as true cloud systems have zero upfront costs. There are no gateway costs—the cost is zero. Surveillance and security systems are a large capital expense for any business. Over the past several years, the evolution of video surveillance cameras and technologies has considerably changed the surveillance industry in terms of cost savings, increased safety, and convenience of the users. With so many options available, it can be challenging to evaluate the costs, maintenance, and overall investment required, to manage surveillance for your business.

With traditional video surveillance solutions, there are a variety of start-up and ongoing fixed costs.

The ongoing costs can include: annual maintenance fees such as router configuration, system configuration and operating system backup, OS security patches and server equipment refreshes as well as remote network access, IT staff costs, space, power, software update installation, PC client SW install/upgrades, central management, mobile apps, video backup, cyber security expertise and support, and multi-site integration.

When scaling a business with multiple locations, you will be required to buy additional equipment for each location. The price of ownership then grows exponentially, with each location requiring more devices. In addition, there are typically more licenses and fees. One other factor to consider is the additional ongoing energy costs, estimated at approximately $700 annually to power a server (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). With a traditional solution, there are hardware and software costs with major components— such as camera networking, components, analytics, and VMS that all have licensing fees. To calculate total costs over the life of the solution, you must multiply by months and years, while including IT support and the total energy costs to power servers. In addition, with a traditional solution, you must maintain all of these ongoing costs for three to five years.

Comparing this to a cloud-based solution—if you choose to make any changes, it can be done with the click of a button—without any reconfigurations. With cloud, you only pay for what you use and there is a great deal of flexibility.

Scalable cloud solutions have zero upfront costs and no cost to scale with additional locations. This must be factored into the TCO for traditional systems. Beyond simple costs, there are other benefits that cloud delivers. If you are in search of a simpler solution with reduced maintenance, no downtime and more—a cloud-based solution is likely the better option.

Cloud technology offers businesses substantial economies of scale. A cloud-based deployment model does not require the capital expenditure for traditional on-site servers. Therefore, you have lower setup and deployment costs. With cloud-based solutions, support is typically included—so if anything goes wrong, it is managed by your cloud provider.

In addition, cloud video surveillance allows software updates to be delivered wirelessly, so any bug fixes and security improvements are managed without having to replace existing hardware. Remote monitoring and support means that your provider can maintain the health of your system and notify you if there’s a problem, such as a camera going down.

Additional benefits of cloud surveillance include scalability, streamlined processes and reduced expenses and human resources— that can be redirected to customer service, marketing, and other areas that can to help grow your business.

Identifying the Best TCO for Your Business

It can be difficult to determine how many cameras per location will deliver the best TCO, since not all deployments are ideally suited for cloud. Typically, there is a sweet spot of six cameras or less, per location, for optimal TCO. Identifying sites with six cameras or less makes it easy, as you eliminate the cost of any hardware. When you multiply zero cost with multiple location, the savings are 100 percent of what you’ll be purchasing for a traditional system.

Once you exceed six cameras per location, you must also factor in the time invested. As we continue to move forward with the reduction of bandwidth costs and storage costs, you will be able to provide a larger amount of cameras per location for better TCO. As storage costs are reduced, you can increase the amount of cameras per location and this will be less costly than traditional solutions.

Deciding between traditional solutions or the more modern cloud based solutions can be tricky. Cloud continues to evolve, and offers a host of benefits for users, as outlined above.

If you are seeking the best solution for your business or considering a reseller solution, contact your local cloud provider, to find a partner with an open platform. Be sure to verify that the partner has extensive experience with cloud solutions. And lastly, be sure to complete an assessment, to confirm that your business is ready for cloud.

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

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