Cloud Based Video Surveillance Viable

As Cloud Computing gets popular today, would Video Surveillance as a Service be a good hit in the market as well? My research indicates that some companies offer US$5 - US$30, per camera, monthly fees. (affordable, right.) And recording in the cloud (should be no issue in playback). The market could be over US 1 billion by 2014.
If this is a business model, what would be your concerns?

My first response is privacy. Would be cloud-service provider maintain those data in a secure way. Would there are privacy criteria we need to follow?

TC, I am the President of a VSaaS company. Our VIAAS cameras encrypt the video and images on the camera upon inital recording. Videos and images reamin encrypted when uploaded and stored in the cloud.

An important aspect of the VIAAS encryption model is it provides a unique signature for every asset. The signature assures the time and location of the imagery and the media itself cannot be modified without detection. When using recorded video in legal proceeding, the ability to conclusively prove the time, date, location, and veracity of the video is crucial.

US$5 - US$30, per camera, monthly fees: could that be a 'renting model'. Meaning, after a few years of renting, a customer even does not have to return that camera, due to better camera comes to the market?

$5 per month is affordable but most companies are at least charging $10 and that's for very limited recording (duration, fps and resolution).

Where are you getting that the market could be over US 1 Billion by 2014? What vendors specifically would be making that money? I am not aware of any vendor making more than a few tens of millions per year so it's hard to imagine a global market of $1 Billion next year.

Hi, John, I was reading the following article - Seagate debuts HDD for growing 24/7 video applications

Please kindly correct me, if i misinterpret that number.

From what I have heard IMS is including massive, potentially mytholigical VSaaS projects within China. I actually attended some presentation where they a manufacturer showed an IMS slide. It had a huge bar for China and tiny bars for the rest of the world. Moreover, those numbers are projections from a few years ago, the market has not developed as the vendors have hoped.

See how Axis is now bragging about deploying hundreds of channels a week. When the world's largest manufacturer is doing so poorly, despite years of promotion, it's a pretty strong sign that the market has big challenges.

Btw, if you assume $20 average monthly revenue (which is pretty high), to get to $1 Billion per year, you need 4 million+ cameras, which is a tough deal.

See our post about how we believe edge recording will kill hosted video.

Here's the IMS VSaaS projections presented in a public Honeywell presentation.

The photo's blurry but the keep point is the really tall bar which is government use. This is bizarre because VSaaS isn't really a government play/fit. Nonetheless, there either is or puports to be massive government VSaaS projects in China. This is, at best, an anomaly, at worse skewed/confused. Either way, I wouldn't trust this number because of that huge assumption.


In my experience bandwidth is figuratively and literally the bottleneck here. I run into setups quite often where they want to do offsite storage (either cloud or housed on servers at another facility), but very often the available bandwidth up is not sufficience to keep up with their wants/needs.

Based on some of the inquiries I’ve received directly on cloud storage, it seems the people most interested in it are also the least likely to have (or be willing to pay for) a sufficient upload pipe.

"The people most interested in it are also the least likely to have (or be willing to pay for) a sufficient upload pipe."

Well said and isn't that ironic.

You often hear the argument "But bandwidth is improving and CODECs are getting better (now with H.264!)"

Unfortunately, the increase in resolution demanded has gone up far faster over the last few years, outstripping the modest pace of upstream bandwidth improvements (see our post on asymmetric bandwidth issues for IP video).

When I was at Brivo, we offered a hosted video platform in addition to the Access Control system we sold called OVR. It allowed customers to integrate cameras into the web interface for the access system. I will tell you it had little success and very few people opted for it. In 3 years of existence I'd say there were less than 300 customers and for the investment that was made into the offering it was not lighting the world on fire by any means.

I think VSaaS has a lot of challenges. The biggest being that for anything over 10 or so cameras it really does not make sense due to bandwidth limitations like John Lowry said above.

One of the advantages of hosted video is the fact that there is no DVR onsite that can be stolen. The thing is , how many thieves know to search for and steal a DVR? I think the value proposition for hosted video is questionable especially when you take into consideration how companies who already invested heavily into an appliance are going to want to get the maximum life out of their investment making them reluctant to toss out their existing equipment to pay a monthly fee for video.

We looked at an offsite-recording solution for one customer a while back - one of their sites was extremely small with little extra space for video and IT systems. We figured on 30 cameras for the site, 29 of them analog, with encoders to then pipe them to an offsite NVR. It looked like it was going to be do-able, until they got a price for the necessary connection: a 100Mbit feed, if memory serves, would have run around $300/month. Now, these guys have lots of money and aren't afraid to spend it, but that was just too much. We ended up finding room for the systems on-site :)

Matt, was that a full 100Mb/s symmetrical service for $300? Was it in an urban area or?

On a related note, I found this article about Comcast offering a 105Mb/s service for $105 USD, evidently though it's only 10Mb/s up, which would still significantly limit VSaaS upstreaming.

John, I believe that was full symmetrical. Site was in downtown Vancouver; headend was to go at the client's office just outside downtown.

Did that Comcast offering include uncapped usage? That's the real bugaboo in these things: getting the required SPEED is easy, but once you want to push a few terabytes through it on a consistent basis, providers want to start collecting limbs...

Matt, that seems to be a fairly typical pattern - where high density, urban areas get fiber to the building and huge data rates. The problem is that a lot of VSaaS users are chain stores who need to do it across 100 or 1000 locations scattered around the country. Getting such bandwidth levels to all of them is a big challenge.

From what I have read, Comcast's 105Mb/s plan has a 250 GB max per month. That will be good for 1, maybe 4 cameras at most.

"The Cloud" is actually a really crappy and expensive storage option. This has been true for as long as the Internet has been commercially available, and nothing in any trend analysis indicates that is likely to change.

I think people look at things like Dropbox and try to force-fit that into some kind of remote NVR model or market. But when you do the math and look at how those various cloud storage services work and bill, you see that they are all formed around keeping a fairly static set of files online for a long period of time. None of them have the capabilities to deal with continous feeds of ever-changing data (essentially a live camera feed).

You might get 2 or 5 or 50GB of storage from Dropbox for $100/year or whatever the current pricing is. But if you think about how and when data is uploaded, you realize that you're talking about an average upload of maybe 100MB per day, not anything that scales to being useful as an NVR.

There are some practical ways to offer services that would archive and store *selective* video, and by this I mean much more selective than just "motion detection", more like "evidence clips", or operator-selected video segments.

I've had really good connections to data center services for over a decade, based on some previous jobs and connections. I can get symmetrical bandwidth in practically unlimited quantities for wholesale prices. It's nearly impossible to find a price point that lets you effectively cover the bandwidth costs in terms of a continuous recording service, and once you factor in server costs, paying server admins, etc., I just don't see what most people are thinking of in terms of VSaaS as ever establishing a market.

Brian, I agree. Another way I like to think / express is to look at the value per bit.

In surveillance, the value / bit is astonishingly low, simple because it needs so many bits to deliver a 'piece' of information. Compare that to an email hosted at google or a PDF hosted at dropbox, etc.

VSaaS and could storage.... It's almost like the gatling gun- an interesting idea but never really took off that much (to the ADD and knee-jerk nannies, I didn't say "at all", I said "that much") when it first came out because of mechanical and logistical limitations. It wasn't until, what, half a century or more later that it came back as the mini-gun and multi-barrel cannon? And even then, it hasn't replaced all machine guns. It has a small, though deeply entrenched niche use.

I'm sure it won't take 50 years for cloud storage to really take off, but it's not going to be tomorrow and I wouldn't bet on it being near even half the market share.

Chris - how often is video from your system being used as evidence?

I hear a lot about "evidentiary" quality of video, yet my (admittedly limited first-hand exposure (1 case so far)) says that even when the video evidence is a primary exhibit, it is still used as a "backup" to other evidence. Ability to verify time and date of the video is certainly important, but not scrutinized to the Nth level commonly.

Does your product target environments where the video is frequently going to be used as evidence, especially potentially disputed evidence? Or is that aspect of it more of a secondary artifact of the architecture vs. an up-front design goal.

Thanks for any clarification.

VSaaS. What does this mean? It can mean several things.

Easy configuration. Cameras contact a server and register their DHCP and can be dynamically arranged for recording locally or remotely. We are now using DHCP reservations with the Time Server broadcast in DHCP for quicker implementation and ability to make changes.

Internal storage. The VMS can be SaaS based and the video stored on an SD card inside the camera. VMS takes care of the video configuration and in-camera storage. Video flagged for archive can be uploaded to off-side storage, and/or downloaded to a computer for storage.

Client site network based storage/self hosted VSaaS. Our data center just moved 20 miles from campus. We got 2 1GB links to start with, and now have added one 10GB link (yes, ten GB), with one more coming at the end of the year. If there were a VSass solution with on-site recording and management in our VM/SAN/NAS IaaS, we may use it. I can see campuses and multi-site organizations liking this model.

"Cloud" storage. Yes, network throughput is getting cheaper, compression with H.264 and H.265 is getting better. Places are now moving lots of thing off-site to a Iaas, SaaS, etc. At what pace will network, compression, and demand grow? Will demand outpace network capacity, or will network capacity/compression outpace demand? Maybe both. Many can get exclusive contract language to provide better privacy and/or legal protection.

Each of these are more likely as a WHEN than an IF.

Brian - Our customers are able to download the video themselves, but we are aware of at least six customers providing the video to police departments. I suspect you are correct about using the video as primary evidence, just substantiating, but we have not been involved with court proceedings. VIAAS features, like the unique signature, are intentionally designed into our products and services to provide greater value to our customers and differentiation.