Retail scene with cloud-based cameras

Considering Cloud-based CCTV? 4 key questions to answer

Dec 8, 2023

by Frank Crouwel

Having come across an increasing number of existing and potential customers considering putting their CCTV systems into the cloud, here are four key questions you need to answer.

  1. How many sites do you need to monitor centrally and / or remotely?

If you have lots of small footprint, high value or critical sites, especially if many are in remote locations with few or no staff on site, then the business case for Cloud-based CCTV is likely to be strong.

On the other hand, if you have a single site with a higher camera count, the case for moving to Cloud is not so easy to make.

  1. Are your sites ‘greenfield’ from a security camera perspective?

If many of your sites are ‘greenfield’ i.e., with no legacy cameras on site, or if existing cameras are of the old analogue-based CCTV type and are ready for decommissioning, then the case for Cloud CCTV adoption is likely to be more compelling.

However, if you have built up an array of different cameras, possibly recording locally to existing video recorders, the move to Cloud is inevitably tougher due to previous investments made.

  1. Can you live with the compromise of a de-featured CCTV system?

If you have an existing on-premise video management system (VMS), such as Milestone XProtect, and your staff have grown used to the rich, smart feature set available to them, then you may need to manage user expectations if you are migrating to a cloud-based system, or VSaaS, as it is sometimes also called.

In addition, user experience may be compromised a little further due to a potential lag in display of both live and recorded images, which may happen on congested networks.

Just be aware that the functionality in Cloud-based video management systems tends to be simplified and pared back, which may not suit your needs or may require a familiarisation period at the very least.

  1. Are you looking to make cost savings?

Many firms consider moving to the Cloud because they have seen many IT applications that they use day to day being migrated to the Cloud. It has become a common model. Many businesses use Microsoft Office365 today when just a few years ago IT departments might have bought on-prem Office software instead. The savings which IT departments have made from the move to Cloud have been significant, not least because of the reduced server maintenance burden.

However, moving your CCTV system into the cloud is a little different from most IT cloud migration projects. Apart from anything else there’s much more data involved, especially with high resolution video.

If there is likely to be high usage, you will potentially be transferring lots of video data between places that may demand considerable bandwidth capacity. Will you need to upgrade your connectivity infrastructure?

Another consideration is whether you will record in the Cloud, which can be expensive, particularly if you require long-term retention, or whether your requirements would allow to record ‘on the edge’, i.e. in the camera, and use the Cloud platform as a centralised viewing and management platform only. It is noted that, in the UK, the vast majority of our customers opt for the latter, purely because the remote functionality and ease of use is the same, but the cost much lower.

Frank Crouwel

Frank Crouwel has been in the security industry since 1998 and has worked in the field of IP-based and cloud-based video systems for 25 years, pioneering the use of new video technologies in real-world applications as part of the team at NW Security Group, where he has been managing director since 2004.

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