The benefits of VSaaS

CCTV Handbook 2022 Editor's Choice

Control room monitoring has been around for many years in the security industry, ranging from traditional alarm monitoring systems to full control rooms monitoring surveillance, alarms, fire safety and other security operations. Today they are even being used to collect data that can be analysed and used for business optimisation.

Of course, today we also have a growing VSaaS (Video Surveillance-as-a-Service) market, which purports to do the same, but is all cloud based. The control room is somewhere else, and operators operate and access their control room software via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), even going as far as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) where everything but the computer the operator uses is a cloud-based system located elsewhere.

David Arrikum.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the VSaaS market is projected to grow from $3,3 billion in 2022 to reach $7,6 billion by 2027; it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2022 to 2027.

Of course, there are ‘in-between’ (or hybrid) solutions as well, where control rooms mix cloud and onsite technology. And, of course, there is the option of a remote control room (remote monitoring) where the control room is offsite, but all the kit is installed and maintained within the control room.

In this article, we asked David Arrikum, national sales manager at IOT Revolution Technologies (IoT Rev Tech) to better explain what VSaaS offers. If the marketing is to be believed, cloud technologies are better at everything and cheaper than onsite solutions.

When it comes to surveillance, however, the data collected is enormous as compared to simple text or images. If one includes data storage, connectivity (because you need to be sure you have the bandwidth to transport all the video data), and backup or failover solutions (because you can’t rely on Eskom or one fibre provider), are VSaaS solutions cheaper than onsite solutions?

A holistic view

Arrikum says, “We really need to take a holistic view of our business when considering a cloud-based solution. How often has an end-user been briefed on the total cost of ownership of their ‘traditional’ architecture systems?”

With the implementation of a cloud solution an end-user no longer needs to build a data centre to manage their surveillance system. Without the data centre component, the end-user has a reduced electricity bill due to no servers and cooling equipment for the servers, UPS/back-up power requirements are minimal due to less hardware on site, they do not need to incur costs to employ a certain ICT skillset to manage their infrastructure and they do not have to replace servers and hard drives every three to five years.

Cloud-based platforms also allow for software and firmware updates to take place automatically at no additional cost. You will also never run out of horsepower on your onsite infrastructure because you are using supercomputers in a cloud environment.

“When you take all these things into consideration, I can quite confidently say that yes, a cloud-based surveillance solution, over a period of time, will definitely be more cost effective to the end-user,” he adds. “The list of cost benefits received by the end-user when implementing a cloud-based solution is very long, when looked at relative to the value it drives back to business.

“With regards to maintenance, here is where we change the way we think. Firstly, cloud solutions require less hardware, resulting in far less maintenance. Secondly, as the platforms are a software-first approach, you have a team of support consultants available almost 24/7 to help troubleshoot issues. The result is a massive reduction in turnaround time for a maintenance call/ticket than we have traditionally seen.

“A systems installer could charge a small fee to the end-user to log in remotely and perform a series of agreed upon checks, i.e., focusing of cameras, turning on/off certain analytic modules, turning on/off cloud storage/back up, checking the geo-location of each camera is correct and each camera label is correct, etc. All this info can then be retrieved through an audit log to provide a report that the checks have been completed. Thus the end-user has the ability to proactively perform minor maintenance on their system and the systems installer can provide a comprehensive maintenance service without having to be on site.”

Of course, the question of responsiveness and reaction to alarms is a key issue when looking at cloud services. Arrikum states that, in a cloud-based control room environment, an event can be received from site, and pushed through a cloud-hosted AI engine for false alarm filtering that will only send back true/verified alarms to an operator, all in under 5 seconds.

Cybersecurity and the cloud

The one thing nobody in any technology-related industry can escape today is cybersecurity. Cloud providers say that cloud systems are more secure from a cybersecurity perspective because dedicated teams are focused on ensuring the security of their cloud installations. When you host all the technology in your own control room, local or remote, you need to handle all the cybersecurity and the associated costs, including hiring skilled people to handle the task.

Arrikum notes that it is imperative that every end user and systems installer understands that cybersecurity is a very specific discipline within the cloud environment, it is taken extremely seriously and handled by the experts within that environment. Most cloud solutions are hosted within data centres that have dedicated teams performing penetration testing constantly in a live environment and dedicated teams creating the relevant countermeasures to make sure security protocols are up to date. Can the same be said about the time and energy invested into network security in a traditional/onsite environment, he asks?

When it comes to privacy and compliance concerns, he says, “The cloud environment was not made to encroach on anyone’s privacy, but rather to allow organisations the ability to store, analyse and share relevant data without having to invest massive amounts of capital.

“We have partnered with companies we believe are the forerunners in the cloud surveillance industry who make sure they are compliant with regards to privacy regulations. No images are stored in the cloud, only algorithms, and footage is never shared outside the organisation; encrypted links are shared to allow access to permitted footage for specific periods of time. It will always be up to the end-user to make sure they manage their security processes and procedures to prevent the misuse of data and information.”

The benefit or myth of flexibility

Another VSaaS benefit we often hear about is how flexible cloud solutions are as you can easily scale to include more devices or storage etc. However, proper planning means there will rarely be occasions when the end user suddenly needs to add 16 cameras in a hurry; and most in-house operations will cater for a bit extra when purchasing equipment.

However, Arrikum says that with or without proper planning, “I do not believe that flexibility in any environment would not provide benefits to an end user. Having flexibility in your environment is similar to having insurance, you have it when you need it. Having the ability to make decisions ‘on the fly’ when it comes to storage, analytics, AI, reporting and additional implementation of hardware allows an end user to not only have the freedom to create and manipulate their surveillance solution for any specific scenario at any time, but it also allows them to accurately manage and apply budget on a short-term basis.”

IoT Rev Tech’s cloud solutions

In closing, we asked Arrikum what solutions IoT Rev Tech offers in terms of surveillance and control rooms.

“We offer both true/fully hosted cloud solutions as well as hybrid cloud solutions. To the offsite monitoring control room, we believe we have significantly lowered the barrier to entry for enterprise control room monitoring by offering the IMMIX CS and the Calipsa AI platform in an operational expenditure (opex) model, allowing the control room to offer premium services without the implementation of hardware and minimal capital expenditure (capex). We also give the control room an accurate forecast on their return-on-investment point.

“For the systems installer/end user, we have multiple platforms such as Verkada, Dragonfruit AI and IREX AI which can be deployed in 10 days on an application-specific basis. Whether you’re looking for slip-and-fall detection, cloud storage or the ability to federate your sites and gain remote view of any of your sites within your organisation from anywhere in the world, we have it all. Cloud might seem like an interesting or innovative option at the moment, but the truth is that the migration to cloud is inevitable.”


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