Long Term Storage / Digital Tape (Soleratec)

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 26, 2011

Long term retention requirements and large camera counts can result in expensive storage systems. Users look to a variety of techniques and options for minimizing storage costs and size. In this note, we examine one approach - Soleratec's RSM [link no longer available] offering combined with digital tape storage. We then contrast its strengths and weaknesses to network based storage and storage optimization techniques (such as frame pruning, transcoding, etc.).

First, Soleratec's general approach is uncommon for video surveillance so understanding the differences are important to start:

  • Soleratec is neither a VMS/NVR nor storage manufacturer. Rather, it is a middleware software application that integrates with VMS/NVRs and separate storage appliances.
  • The two key functional differentiations of Soleratec are: (1) it manages off-line storage such as digital tape and (2) it creates and provides a reduced quality online video stream (called companion files) for users conducting searches on a VMS application. 
  • The key financial / business drivers are that: (1) off line storage such as digital tape is dramatically less expensive than online NAS or SAN devices and (2) that the reduced quality companion files minimize the need to access the offline recordings. Review Soleratec's cost advantage brochure to see their pitch.
  • Pricing: Soleratec charges for on-line storage ($1,495 MSRP for 4TBs) and data tape storage management ($595 for 4TBs). Soleratec does not charge for offline storage. This approach may be confusing to surveillance buyers as it does not follow the common per channel or simple storage model. The assumption with Soleratec is that most of one's storage will be kept offline. Users would only pay for the minority of storage that is kept online.
  • Integration: Soleratec reports integration with Milestone and OnSSI [Note: an earlier version erroneously cited integration with Exacq and Genetec]. The integration allows transparently transferring recorded video from the VMS to Soleratec's video management system. Once video is transferred to Soleratec, operators need to use Soleratec's application rather than the VMS.

Soleratec Operational Aspects

The biggest operational difference is the presence of off-line storage. In today's video surveillance, almost all storage is online (whether in a hard drive inside the recorder, in a NAS, SAN or in a SD card on a camera, etc.). With Soleratec, the assumption / value is that most of the storage is copied on to digital tapes and then archived.

The offline digital tape approach raises some of the same concerns surveillance users traditionally had with VHS tapes. Periodically, an administrator needs to remove, archive and replace digital tapes from the digital tape library. Additionally, if a user or investigator wants to access the original full quality recordings, just like a VHS, they will have to find and insert the tape (rather than simply press play with a traditional VMS). On the other hand, Soleratec's online low resolution companion files are designed to minimize the need to retrieve the offline video. Nonetheless, despite the likely lower infrastructure cost, some increase in operational expenditures and coordination are inevitable with the Soleratec approach.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Let's review key strengths and weaknesses that should be considered:

First, strengths:

  • Per TB storage pricing will be significantly lower. Not only is digital tape less expensive than hard drives, offline digital tapes require no additional infrastructure unlike hard drives that need to be managed by servers, NAS or SAN appliances.
  • Power and HVAC costs will be lower as the tapes are offline and essentially powered off. That noted, we expect the bulk of the potential savings to come from eliminating servers, NAS or SANs rather than power and HVAC.

The strengths are essentially lower cost. We do not see any potential for improved investigations outside of the lower costs allows for longer storages which might solve cases otherwise lost.

On the weaknesses:

  • Searching of video: All video managed by Soleratec needs to be searched from the Soleratec user interface. This requires the operator to switch from the Milestone or OnSSI clients to the Soleratec client, increasing the complexity and requiring learning of a second application.
  • Accessibility of video: The additional step of needing to physically find and load offline video may reduce the desire or ability of investigators to conduct investigations (e.g., an investigator may need to find a tech admin to locate and load the video they need, this person or storage could be at a different site, etc.).
  • Greater complexity: This solution requires integrating a VMS with a new application and often hardware types that an organization has not used previously.
  • Start up costs: For smaller systems, the greater complexity and the need to have a additional hardware component (the offline media recorder/player, e.g., the digital tape library) adds a non trivial start up cost.

The other major issue is that alternative techniques that might be easier to implement and provide similar value:

  • Frame pruning: The frame rate of older video can be dropped. For example, new video can be recorded at 30fps and old video only at 3fps, saving 50% or more in storage while keeping it online. This depends on the vendor's support, CODEC used, etc.
  • Multi-streaming recording: The VMS can receive two streams - a higher and lower quality one. The higher quality one can be used for short term storage and the lower one for longer term storage. Same issues apply as for frame pruning.
  • Transcoding: A few VMS systems, such as TimeSight, will periodically re-encode video to reduce its storage consumption. This requires the use of a single VMS.

This noted, as we have not tested the software, a number of unknowns exist that should be considered:

  • How easy is the integration with a VMS?
  • How tightly integrated is Soleratec with a VMS?
  • What is the actual quality and usability of the companion files? The better, the less need there is to access offline storage.

Recommendations

Given that Soleratec adds complexity, some start up cost and potential concerns of easy video access, we believe the solution is best for organizations wanting very long term storage yet is unlikely to need the video. For organizations with industry or government regulations for quarters or years of video storage, this may be a good fit. In those cases, the video is more an 'insurance' against unknown risks and the practical concern of retrieving offline video is low. By contrast, organizations only keeping video for a short term (like one or two months) who are likely to access older video repeatedly might be better off with traditional offerings and optimizations. Finally, an organization who traditionally stored only short to mid term but wants to explore much longer term storage may see Soleratec as a low cost option to enable longer term recording.

1 report cite this report:

Quantum Storage Company Profile on Apr 28, 2016
Storage vendor Quantum is bringing their multi-tier storage architecture to...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Surveillance Storage 101 on Mar 23, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
New: Mobile Access Proxy Releases 'World's Smallest Mobile Reader' on Mar 04, 2020
Mobile access provider Proxy claims its new Nano is 'the world’s smallest...
Startup Videoloft Presents Cloud Storage on May 27, 2020
Videoloft presented offsite cloud storage at the May 2020 IPVM Startups...
Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
Bandwidth Fundamentals For Video Surveillance on Jan 13, 2020
Bandwidth is the most fundamental element of computer networking for video...
Vehicle & Long Range Access Reader Tutorial on Jan 21, 2020
One of the classic challenges for access control are parking lots and...
Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Feb 27, 2020
Controlling access to hazardous environments requires equipment meeting...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers...
VMS 101 on Mar 03, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals about video management...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At...
Micron 1 TB SD Cards Aim To Eliminate NVRs on Apr 08, 2020
Micron has boldly proclaimed their latest 1TB microSD "eliminates the need...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with...
Remote Access (DDNS vs P2P vs VPN) Usage Statistics 2019 on Oct 25, 2019
Remote access can make systems more usable but also more vulnerable. How are...

Recent Reports

FaceFirst Problems And Layoff on Oct 01, 2020
FaceFirst, a US company and one of the oldest ongoing facial recognition...
Ava / Vaion Releases Cloud Connected IP Cameras, Verkada Competitor on Oct 01, 2020
Ava (formerly Vaion) announced its new direct-to-cloud AVA Aware IP cameras...
Single Frame Gait Recognition From Michigan State and Osaka University Examined on Oct 01, 2020
Gait recognition has the potential for accurate identification at a distance,...
CDW Sells School District 36 Low-Res, No Blackbody Hikvision Fever Cameras With Federal Funds on Oct 01, 2020
Mega IT distributor CDW sold low-resolution Hikvision fever cameras with no...
Temperature Tablet Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco, TVT + 5 More on Sep 30, 2020
Temperature tablets, aka terminal or stations, have emerged as a 'low-cost...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Concluded on Sep 30, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show has concluded. The first 2 days of recorded videos...
ButterflyMX Raises $35 Million on Sep 30, 2020
Startup ButterflyMX has raised $35 million for its smartphone based intercom...
Worst Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 30, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "In the past year, what access control...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on Sep 29, 2020
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining...
Avigilon / Motorola VS Virtual ISC West on Sep 29, 2020
ISC West has historically been so dominant that no player would think of...
Dartmouth College Deploys K3 Temperature Screening on Sep 29, 2020
While Dartmouth College has a $6+ billion endowment, the College has bought...
Hanwha AI Object Detection Tested on Sep 28, 2020
Hanwha has added detection and classification of people, cars, clothing...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 28, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management...
OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...