How to Manage Video Storage

Where does cost come into play?
Cecchini: Budget is often an overlooked factor and dictated by how scalability, storage periods, and bandwidth are applied. DAS is the most economical solution with excellent performance and fair scalability. But storage is captive to a single recorder, so using more than three recorders becomes inefficient. SAN/NAS solutions show a higher initial cost to implement but show a better ROI as more recorders are added to an installation, though FMs should pay special attention as recorders are added so as not to exceed the SAN/NAS performance capability.

How can facility managers collaborate with their IT department for a successful installation?
Lewit: Facility managers should ensure that they understand the capacities and limitations of their existing network infrastructure. When working with IT departments, clearly identify facility needs and work up plans that appropriately
leverage all the technologies to best fit within their framework.  

Cecchini: IT and physical security are increasingly falling under the same roof. Modern IP security solutions are much closer to IT concepts and practices than the older analog television-esque surveillance systems. In almost all cases, an IT/security combination leads to lower implementation and management costs.

But many IT professionals still feel put upon when asked to shoulder some of the security and surveillance burden. After all, their infrastructure was built to IT requirements and budget but now surveillance is asking to use precious resources, particularly network bandwidth and equipment. Many times IT budgets can be expanded to accommodate surveillance requirements or supplemented with security/surveillance budgets. This is optimal but does mean different hardware may be required of IT, as well as additional manpower to manage the security hardware and software. 

If budgets can’t be expanded or there is resistance to combining physical security, IT may say surveillance devices can use their wiring infrastructure but not any of their hardware or network. This way, the surveillance group saves time and money by using existing cabling and can use their security specific servers and storage. General computer traffic is then isolated from security feeds, which could pose a virus or malware threat. The standalone security network will also benefit from dedicated bandwidth.

As upgrading storage won’t yield a traditional ROI like other building systems might, what are ways FMs can justify investment costs?
Cecchini: If a surveillance system and storage are meeting a specific fixed requirement, approach it as a traditional capital expenditure. If ROI is important, focus on planning. 

Start a security specification covering shared building areas, egress points, exterior areas, and other surveillance areas. Establish camera coverage and storage period requirements. Your future ROI will depend on the scalability and bandwidth allowance made in initial design and small upfront expenditures can pay big dividends down the road. 

When purchasing recording servers or storage appliances, do not buy the solution that holds the exact amount of disk drives to meet the present requirement – buy one that has extra disk space or slots to expand. Spending another $1,000 on a larger enclosure will save five to ten times that initial investment down the road. The same applies to the CPU and memory. Upgrading a system for added camera units and bandwidth is much cheaper than purchasing and installing an additional system. 

Lewit: As video has evolved, more and more constituents are popping up and video is no longer purely a risk mitigation proposition. Companies want to check in on flow rates to help businesses assess marketing promotions. Supervisors want to validate alarm conditions before heading out in the middle of the night. All of this helps the overall organization be more efficient and connected.

Cecchini: You can also think of security and surveillance as part of your space contract, whether it’s internally or with lessors. Just as lighting coverage is defined, so can security surveillance. Remember that a higher density of cameras drives the storage requirement. Define base surveillance as part of the coverage and then charge for changes and increases to cover costs.    

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