Axis Iomega VSaaS Integration Examined
In this note, we examine the integration of Iomega NAS devices with Axis's AVHS hosted video offering. While AVHS previously supported limited NAS systems, the Iomega integration likely represents a much stronger and serious attempt by Axis to expand VSaaS. Inside, we look at the relative economics and how on-site NAS greatly improves the traditionally poor business case of hosted video [link no longer available].
Axis AVHS offers plug n play connectivity between devices in its systems. To do that, special software / firmware is required on each device. Axis now pre-loads this firmware on all new Axis devices (firmware 5.20 or higher). The firmware is not available on non-Axis cameras. The primary way to record that video was to stream it to a hosting provider in the 'cloud' who ran Axis AVHS server software. The upside of this was that installation / integration was greatly simplified. The downside was that support was restricted to a limited number of devices.
NAS devices have great potential to be disruptive to the video surveillance industry. The main virtue is their low cost with total costs under $200 per TB common. For instance, here is an 8TB Iomega NAS device for under $1,000 USD on Amazon (this is one of the models now available with the Axis - Iomega integration). This is a half or a third the cost of traditional server / storage combinations.
Larger Scale Camera Support
This integation may support dozens of cameras on a given site, much higher than AVHS previous limitations. When we did our original test of Axis AVHS, using Secure-i, limited plug n play support was available for 500GB or 1TB NAS devices. A big difference with the Iomega announcement is much broader support for larger NAS devices. Currently, Iomega is adding AVHS support for 2 and 4 drive bay [link no longer available] NAS devices (e.g., up to 12 TB). Later in 2011, they plan to release support for a 12 drive bay NAS [link no longer available] device. With 24TBs of on-site storage, support for 50 cameras or more in a given site is feasible.
The key factor impacting the overall competitiveness will be the licensing or monthly fees charged by Axis and/or AVHS hosting providers.
The big upside is that this approach eliminates most of the marginal cost of hosted video systems. Specifically, rather than continuously streaming video off site and storing it in a data center, the video can be stored locally in the low cost NAS. While there are some tradeoffs (e.g., having to service the NAS locally, risk of the NAS being stolen, etc.), overall, the cost structure is much lower than traditional offerings. Indeed, we would categorize this approach as Managed Video - a much more economically viable approach that we have advocated repeatedly (see our VSaaS competitive review [link no longer available]).
We are waiting for more information on the pricing structure. If the monthly pricing is low, the impact could be revolutionary. On the other hand, if the monthly pricing remains high (Secure-I was charging $20 per month per camera even when using the previous generation NAS device), this will be a lost opportunity. We will update with details as we receive them.
UPDATE - Pricing still seems to be $10+ per camera per month. The pricing is less but not as aggressive as it could or should.