In The Clouds

Six top security integrators talk about why their customers are moving to cloud video surveillance

Video data storage in the cloud was a novel concept when Dean Drako founded Eagle Eye Networks back in 2012. While cloud was being used for almost all other business systems at that time, the physical security industry took a cautious and measured approach to cloud adoption.

Twelve years later, that has changed. Today, cloud is firmly established in our industry, and the Security Industry Association (SIA) has regularly recognized the cloud movement as a top trend in its annual Security Megatrends report.

This year marks a turning point for cloud. In its 2024 Security Megatrends report, SIA identifies cloud technology as a “foundational trend.”

According to SIA researchers, foundational trends are “so much part of the fabric of the world that they are viewed no longer as future- looking megatrends, but instead as common concerns that all business leaders must manage as they operate within our industry.”

Cloud adoption is no longer plodding. In fact, industry analyst group Novaira Insights forecasts that the number of cloudconnected cameras will grow at a brisk 80% CAGR in North America through 2026.

Cloud is here to stay and the migration from on-prem to cloud is picking up speed, but it’s also true that we have a long way to go before cloud video surveillance systems outnumber traditional on-prem systems.

We believe about 10 percent of video surveillance systems are storing data in the cloud today. That leaves an enormous addressable market for cloud video surveillance. That means that cloud evangelists still have work to do, and this translates into a tremendous opportunity for resellers to expand their business by helping their customers make the move to cloud video surveillance.

Core Motivators for Move to Cloud
What is driving organizations to start storing their video surveillance data in the cloud? The core motivators have remained the same since the beginning and include, lower total cost of own-ership (TCO), better cybersecurity, ease-of-use for reseller and end user, open systems that works with all camera models and existing infrastructure, open APIs for easy integration with thirdparty technologies, RMR and the subscription-selling business model, AI compatibility, scalability and automatic updates.

A recent informal survey of our top resellers reinforces these motivators and offers insights into how cloud is being received in the field.

The focus on AI compatibility has sharpened over the past three years, according to Lon Bazelais, founder and president of Grid Squared Systems based in New York City. He says that prior to AI applications becoming more common, “The main reason we opted for cloud storage was redundancy. Cloud storage offers our clients a way to secure and protect the video data from hardware theft, hardware failure, natural disasters or other disruptions.”

However, AI is coming more to the forefront for integrators and customers alike. “More recently, another added feature of cloud storage is that AI functions are more easily integrated with systems that are cloud-based. Cloud environments offer the framework for the powerful computing resources that AI requires.

This makes deployment of AI features possible to a larger sector of our clients,” Bazelais said.

Lucas Ingala, founder and CEO of Watchman Security, based in Kansas City said all the benefits mentioned above are crucial to his customers, but said the deciding factor has not changed since the early days of cloud video surveillance. Business owners need to understand and see how cloud can really streamline and improve operations and security. “Understanding the technology and then putting it in place in their business is key,” Lucas said. “Educating the client on the benefits is critical. Once they get it and experience it, it is pretty simple after that.”

Compliance, Cybersecurity, Future-Proof Security Propel Cloud Adoption
Chris Gilbert, founder and president of Security Pros, based in Sellersburg, IN, agreed with Ingala. When evaluating cloud video surveillance, business owners “are looking for a total solution including hardware, storage and service response when making their decision,” Gilbert said.

Compliance is a major driver for Security Pros customers. Gilbert said many of his customers have requirements for redundant storage of video and for certain storage-retention periods, both of which are simple with cloud. “Many of our clients are looking for flexibility and compliance with their industry requirements. We have seen several of our key clients move to cloud for integration flexibility and the expansion capabilities it offers for their legacy platforms.” Aaron Whitaker, president of Preventia Security based in Columbia, TN, said his company leads with and promotes cloud for two primary reasons.

“First, we believe our customers need a technology-forward solution that will be adaptable to their changing needs. Our customers can take advantage of new technology, integrations and other solutions more easily because of a cloud platform,” Whitaker said. “Second, we believe the ease-of-use and cybersecurity is beneficial to both our customers and our company. We need to offer the most secure platform and by working with a true cloud platform, we can rest easy that our customers are secure from cyber threats and we have less exposure.”

Cybersecurity is a priority for Syracuse, NY-based Chimera Integrations and their customers as well. Chimera Integrations vice president Justin Stearns said cloud storage is always part of the deal for cybersecurity reasons. “No matter what, if a customer buys Eagle Eye from Chimera they are getting 7 days @ 1fps cloud backup. If they object to having even the minimum amount of cloud storage, they don’t value security the same way we do and are probably not the right client for us,” he said.

The number one reason people purchase cloud-managed and cloud-hosted services is to future proof their investment, according to Stearns. “To know that your investment will work on any operating system, anywhere in the world and from any device without having to open any ports outside of the standard two (80, 443) is a big deal,” he said.

Education and Collaboration Still Key
Tony Alexander serves as business development manager - Digital Transformation, for global security integration firm Convergint. Alexander is onboard with SIA in terms of the status of cloud video surveillance. “It’s much more of an industry norm at this point, most organizations are either moving to cloud with their security apps or in a holding pattern because they are getting the plan together. There are very few major industries left that are expecting to be “on-prem” for years to come,” he said.

Alexander said the top two motivators for customers to move to video data storage in the cloud that he sees are first, the removal of site hardware (and operations cost) while getting full redundancy, and access to data for AI, data analytics, data/system integration.

“These tend to be IT, Workplace, and C-level interests and less so the security manager/director (although they benefit as well),” he said.

In terms of general cloud adoption, Alexander says customers are “looking for a better experience, which comes down to systems being always on latest and greatest, and more automation.”

They are also interested in reducing total cost of operations by automating manual processes through technology. For IT, cloud reduces application and hardware management. For admins, cloud automates processes, and for the security team, cloud delivers better real-time and investigation data.

The Security Industry Association, industry analysts, cloud video surveillance companies, and a growing number of security resellers recognize the proliferation of cloud video data storage. As top resellers attest, we may be 12 years into the cloud movement in our industry, but continually educating ourselves about its unique benefits, and working closely with customers to address their specific security and business challenges is what will keep us all at the forefront of this technological wave.

This article originally appeared in the May / June 2024 issue of Security Today.


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