Training: VSaaS Hosted/Managed Basics

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 21, 2010

This hour long training explains the basics behind Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS). If you want to learn about the most talked about emerging trend in the industry, this is an ideal place to start.

VSaaS eases deployment and use of video surveillance to residential and small business users. However, the market is early with so many different providers and even numerous different architectures.

In this training, we explain:

  • The key terminology and issues behind Video Surveillance as a Service including the 'cloud', services, managed video, hosted video, port forwarding, UPnP, 'plug n play' and more
  • The 4 most common architectures: (1) live only, (2) storage on-board cameras, (3) storage in on-site appliances and (4) storage in the cloud.  We then examine the tradeoffs of each
  • The differences between today's VMS software and the emerging VSaaS providers
  • The different business models and the implications of varying 'go to market' strategies.

The introduction video below overviews our training:

This training is an introduction and pre-requisite to our VSaaS Comparison Guide explaining the approaches and differences of 22 VSaaS providers.

Terminology

Understanding terminology is especially important for VSaaS is an emerging market and no standard terminology is practiced by providers.

VSaaS:  We use VSaaS (Video Surveillance aa Service) as it contrasts traditional implementations requiring a server (DVR, NVR, etc.) .The concept of a service can be compared to Google's Gmail where no server is installed or managed at the end-user's facility. The service is dependent via the end-user's connection to the Cloud or the Internet which provides live monitoring and investigative functionality.

Cloud:  The provider utilizes the Internet (cloud) to connect a user to their data that is hosted by the provider and their facilities. Potentially located in various geographical locations, the user's data is accessible anywhere with an Internet connection.

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Managed / Hosted:  The term Managed refers to using an appliance at the end-user's facility (DVR, NVR, NAS, etc.) and the provider "manages" the data via the Cloud. A hosted service would not require this appliance and all storage is housed by the provider.

Plug-N-Play:  This is a more generic term referencing ease of installation and setup. USB hard drives are an example of plug-n-play devices - once plugged in and detected by the PC, data is accessible on the drive without additional software installation. Comparing to surveillance, a camera that requires the installer to input the IP address is not plug-n-play.

 

Architecture Comparison

With various methods to deploy VSaaS, we examine four different categories with an emphasis on storage configurations relative to it's physical location.

None:  Here, no storage is hosted by the end-user (at the facility) nor the provider. The VSaaS provider responds to the request to view live video, then establishes the connection from the camera to the end-user's workstation.

On-board Camera:  Utilizing the on-board storage via the camera's MicroSDHC feature, data is stored locally. The difference in this architecture is the end-user is provided both live monitoring and archived data - limited  by maximum storage capabilities of MicroSDHC.

On-site (NAS / NVR):  In a multi-camera deployment, upstream bandwidth will be limited and/or insufficient. With an appliance (NAS, NVR, etc.) at the end-user's facility, this approach allows VSaaS providers to communicate only with the local device, providing data to the end-user. Ultimately, this saves bandwidth from the end-user's facility to the Cloud.

Cloud:  With zero storage on-site, all video is sent, stored and managed at the VSaaS provider's data center. The end-user makes requests for live or archived video to the provider via the cloud and not directly to the camera(s). 

 

VSaaS vs. VMS

VSaaS solutions can be a competitor or a substitute for VMS, vice versa and some even provide both. Here, we examine the advantages and disadvantages when comparing the two solutions.

Advantages of VMS Software:  VMS software generally provide more flexibility in managing the system and integrating with 3rd parties (cameras, access control, etc.). Live monitoring and investigation controls are generally more granular -changing matrix layouts and detailed searching are examples of these. 

Advantages of VSaaS:  Simplicity is the key advantage with VSaaS - whether the user interface, installation configuration, software upgrading, etc., the provider will attempt to automate or simplify these factors. Additionally, the service provides redundancy / fault tolerant storage and eliminates risk of theft as its stored within their facilities. Although, scaling the deployment may be of little worry, there's a significant increase in upstream bandwidth use to the Cloud.

Future:  VMS manufacturers can provide 'add-on' modules to provide managed / hosted services. We see examples of this with companies such as Yoics, providing VMS with a competitive advantage and have referenced this in our test of Lorex's LNE1001. VSaaS providers will continue to grow and advance their functionality to compete in the merging markets.

 

Go to Market

Direct vs. Channel Sales:  Direct sales are those providers that sell directly to the end-user with little purchasing restrictions. An example of this is Amazon for retail or Viaas for video surveillance. Traditional channel sales pertain to providers that require a partnership prior to conducting any business transactions - Axis is an example of this model.

Historical Issues:  The Internet provides a simple and direct channel for service providers and is a contrast to historical channel sales. 20 comments have been added to the debate whether manufacturers should sell direct to end-users and carries over into managed / hosted solutions.

Advantages / Disadvantages:  Installation and technical support have been the key advantages of historical channels; however, an increasing use of plug-n-play configurations alleviate this.

 

It may be advantageous to utilize existing channel partners to acquire customers but is contrasted by new entrants selling direct via the Internet.

Selling direct can also have price advantages as the provider is not hindered with partnership overhead fees.

Who Will Win?  Currently, few are focused on direct sales only. We believe that VSaaS providers can offer lower pricing, establish favorable relationships and gain significant feedback when selling direct.

 

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