Transforming Security

Transforming Security

Cloud-based video surveillance will see a rise in investment

Just three years ago, the “cloud” was a four-letter word in the security industry. After fronting millions of dollars to establish onpremises systems, companies were understandably reluctant to rip them apart for a new approach. But advances in technology and, more recently, COVID-era changes have pushed companies to not only rethink security solutions but entirely redefine their business challenges. That is prompting them to embrace the cloud like never before.

In 2009, cloud-based SaaS solutions made up just $8 billion of a total $3.2 trillion spent on IT, according to Gartner.1 But by 2019, the amount spent on SaaS solutions grew to $95 billion out of $3.8 trillion invested in IT.2 In the coming years, cloud-based video security, in particular, will see a rise in investment. According to recent data from Marketsand- Markets Research, the video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) market is expected to grow 16%, from $2.2 billion in 2020 to $4.7 billion by 2025.3

Indeed, enterprise video surveillance is on the cusp of a new era. Powered by the cloud, security solutions are poised to go beyond increased flexibility and effectiveness to create new opportunities for growth. Instead of just helping companies keep assets and information safe, cloud-based video surveillance systems will enable enterprises to harness the full spectrum of their data and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to unlock business intelligence and efficiencies.

Flexible, Fast and Low-friction Deployment

One of the key advantages of cloudbased video security is its inherent flexibility, which enables enterprises to rapidly scale up or down to add new capabilities or adapt to new dynamics. Depending on the setup, cloud-based surveillance can be deployed in as little as 30 minutes. Additionally, cloud platforms don’t require a full, upfront commitment, so companies can choose specific subsets of their services to spin up to the cloud and then expand over time.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the flexibility of the cloud has enabled companies to quickly pivot from on-site human guards to remotely-monitored cameras. Even in non-pandemic times, enterprises benefit from flexible solutions. For example, across nearly 600 locations, The Kroger Company uses cloud-based video surveillance units in their parking lots as a physical deterrent to reduce criminal activity. Kevin Larson, senior manager of Corporate Asset Protection, The Kroger Company, said the flexibility of the system is a huge advantage over traditional security technology. The ability to move the units to different parts of the lots means they can cover the full landscape no matter what obstructions or changes may emerge.

The flexibility of the cloud offers other positive implications as well. In the aftermath of an incident, Larson said sharing recorded video with law enforcement or other Kroger teams and locations is frictionless with the cloud. As video storage requirements change, the cloud offers a seamless answer. While non-cloud based systems may only save the footage for 30 to 40 days, the cloud is set up to archive data for the long term. Additionally, the flexible functionality of cloud-based solutions brings a broader set of team members to the table.

“The value of it is that you don’t need to be an IT guy to use it,” Larson said. “It can be for anyone.”

Built for Security Threats Today and Tomorrow

Another critical transformation enabled by cloud technology is enhanced security. Guarding against cyber threats is always a high-priority concern, but a recent rise in COVID-related malware and phishing incidents has heightened attention and raised the bar. As more people work from home and companies shift to virtual private networks (VPN), criminals are finding new ways to take advantage of human error. Especially in this unprecedented situation, it has become clear that remote on-premises solutions are simply not secure or robust enough to withstand the relentless waves of digital threats.

Cloud solutions, however, are built to handle attacks at this level. Moreover, they provide ongoing maintenance and backup services that further reinforce security. The cost of keeping technology up and running is significant; not only do you need to hire expensive technicians, but you also need to pay them to travel to different locations. But in a properly architected cloud program, ongoing maintenance, problem detection and self-healing are built into the system. In a worst-case scenario, disaster recovery is less expensive and less time-consuming than with an on-premises solution.

As 5G connectivity and solar power technology advance, it’s only natural that security cameras and sensors will continue to expand past the walls of traditional building infrastructures, making security challenges even more complex. The cloud can help with this complexity and provide peace of mind even in the most densely networked environments.

One-stop Shopping for Analytics

When we talk to customers and colleagues about cloud-based video surveillance solutions, flexibility and mobility are often cited as advantages that matter most now. Increasingly, they’re telling us that the analytics and intelligence made possible by the cloud are where they expect to find the greatest value.

One customer, for example, points to flexibility and mobility as key reasons why his team turns to cloud video solutions. They frequently organize big outdoor events in areas with little built-in infrastructure and high-value goods, and cloud video technology enables them to be nimble and secure. But they also use cloud-based security towers at their retail locations. The analytics they can run on top of the video data offers a crucial layer of security.

Cloud technology offers a one-stop shop for leveraging video analytics. Through a single platform, retailers can monitor hotspot locations, receive alerts if someone trespasses, speak directly to potential offenders and activate local law enforcement. As retailers expand their security platforms, back-end cloud platforms that can pull together different services and enable analytics will increasingly become even more valuable than the hardware out in the field.

From Data Integration to Business Intelligence

Right now, we’re only scratching the surface of what cloud video security can ultimately deliver. Recognizing its full potential is just around the corner.

Here is one scenario: Imagine a system, powered by a shared data pool that can warn one retailer when a car with a license plate connected to a break-in at a different retailer has pulled into its parking lot.

Another example: Imagine a platform that combines the data collected by video security cameras with consumer shopping data to identify frequent shoppers and offer customized rewards.

As companies integrate data streams and breakdown siloes, that’s when the promise of cloud-based video security can be fully realized. This is where on-premises solutions can’t even compete.

In critical infrastructure, advanced cloud applications of this kind are on the rise. For example, at power substations, security systems guarding against trespassers can simultaneously use sensors to help measure the temperature of power transformers and identify patterns that contribute to overheating. Because these systems are running in the cloud, they can do double duty for security and operations.

The value of these systems can be measured across multiple dimensions. Not only do they require less upfront capital than on-premises solutions, further savings are realized through built-in maintenance features and data storage in the cloud. Even more value comes from risk mitigation—data backed up in the cloud is less vulnerable to theft or damage on site—and data-derived intelligence.

Optimizing for Resilience and Agility

Back in the 1990s and 2000s, technology prioritized the software application and its ability to edit and view data. Today, software applications are secondary. In the cloud era, what matters is the ubiquitous access to data and the ease of moving and processing it. That is what enables us to protect our businesses from new kinds of threats and take advantage of new opportunities.

The past year has exposed the vulnerabilities in so many of our legacy systems. It has shown us that we must be adaptive or get left behind. The road ahead is even more dynamic, which means we must optimize for resilience and agility. Cloud technology offers us the power to do just that.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Security Today.


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