Megapixel vs VSaaS

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 15, 2012

The surveillance industry's most powerful driving force, megapixel cameras, is virtually incompatible with the industry's biggest buzzword - VSaaS. Indeed, looking through the industry's most well known hosted video offering shows that while all of them support IP cameras nearly none of them support megapixel cameras.

Megapixel cameras are indisputably the real deal and driving revenue growth across the board. By contrast, VSaaS is much more hype than substance today. In this report, we look at the issues involved and how this will play out in the future.

The Fundamental Barrier

Bandwidth is the big issue. The 'pure' and generally preferred way of doing VSaaS is to stream video from a camera on site to a recording service in the cloud. This requires the customer to have sufficient upstream bandwidth to send the video from their premises to the public Internet.

Most people do not have sufficient upstream bandwidth to the public Internet. Typically a few Mb/s at most is available. Unfortunately, a 720p HD stream at full frame rate (the 'lowest' megapixel option) typically requires 1 to 2 Mb/s. As such, a single camera can max out a customer's entire upstream bandwidth. This is a obviously a problem. (For background and to understand the basics, review our VSaaS training guide.)

The practical outcome is that megapixel cameras generally are not supported. Even with standard resolution cameras, frame rate is generally maxed out at 5 or 10fps and some providers only record on motion, not continuously.

What Do You Think?

The Negative Impact

Needless to say, this becomes a hard sell. Practically everyone wants higher resolution and every manufacturer touts megapixel's benefits. However, if you go to 'pure' hosted video you have to give this up.

Making things worse, it is merely one of a whole litany of things hosted video purchasers give up. We examine this in our critique of the VSaaS business case.

The Future

There's no quick fix. In most places, bandwidth is unlikely to explode. Fiber to the home is expanding but unevenly and relatively slowly. And while hosted video vendors love to brag about H.264 being cutting edge, it's now fairly old technology with no huge jump in compression around the corner.

This leaves only one major approach available: storing more video on site. This has two options:

  • Store video inside the camera
  • Store video in a local recorder (iomega's NAS / AVHS support being the most interesting example)

Inside the Pro section, we break down each of these options, their advantages and disadvantages and how they are likely to impact the surveillance market in the long term.

Note: this report is related to our VMS vs VSaaS analysis and should be read in conjunction for those trying to understand the VSaaS market.

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