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Cloud solutions for video surveillance aren’t and never were black-and-white options. Rather, cloud-based video can be set up in many different configurations — with hybrid cloud being the most common and fastest growing. There are solutions for practically every end-user customer in one form or another.

The right solution for some end users, however, is no cloud at all — strictly an on-premises video surveillance system. And that’s why having answers for which type of video surveillance model is best for which applications is essential among security integrators.

Configurations of video surveillance systems range from fully on-premises (sometimes called on-prem), where all of the hardware, applications, management and storage are done exclusively at the customer’s site; to a hybrid solution where some components/operations occur on-site and others in the cloud; to fully cloud-based. Some vendors look at this range of solutions on a continuum, with on-prem systems at one end of the spectrum and full cloud at the other end — and a great number of hybrid cloud solutions in between.

Sanjay Challa, chief product officer, Salient Systems, Austin, Texas, points out that the configurations at either end of the spectrum are extremely polarized in that with full-cloud systems you don’t have an experience without the internet and with on-premises systems you only have an experience without the internet.

While full cloud gives end users the ability to perform many functions remotely, its “Achilles heel” is video data ownership, vendor lock-in, cost and reliability issues, Challa says.

“You have that internet outage — oh, well, good luck. You decide you don’t want to renew with that vendor — ouch, there are some lock-in and cost issues. You want to pull all of the data that you have — hmm, those egress fees. First, you don’t own your data and second, it might be kind of challenging to pull it all out,” Challa says.

Some of these factors might not matter at all, though. For very small businesses, “easy is the way to go and they don’t care about owning their video surveillance data,” Challa observes.

The factors important to end users at the opposite end of the spectrum are ownership and control of the video, as well as flexibility in how they deploy and manage some of the components. Doing things completely offline, disconnected from the internet and from cloud services, allows complete control but may impede remote services. “At the end of the day, there’s just a trade-off. You’re trading easiness with ownership and control,” Challa says.

On-Premises Solutions

The advantage of on-prem systems is having complete control. Users have direct physical access to the infrastructure and video when needed and the ability to realize their specific security requirements, says Jeremy White, founder of Pro-Vigil, San Antonio, Texas.

“One disadvantage is that on-premises resources are typically accessible only from within the organization’s network. Another disadvantage of on-prem is it requires a significant upfront investment to buy the hardware and software required, as well as pay for the ongoing maintenance, updates and security,” White says.

For large Fortune 500 and multinational organizations, data sovereignty is a very important aspect of their operations as it affects video streams, Challa explains. This includes factors such as where the data resides, compliance with data privacy laws, and building a corporate data lake by leveraging the video data with corporate business intelligence. “So, probably anything further right of hybrid or cloud-enabled doesn’t make sense,” he says.

For these reasons, integrators who serve this part of the market shouldn’t be considering “no-footprint” or bridge-based solutions that rely solely on the cloud. Instead, they should look at traditional or hybrid and cloud-enabled solutions, Challa advises.

“I’d think more about how the cloud can help them with operational processes like license management and system health reporting. Those are great things to do through the cloud while allowing these large multinational corporations to still worry about how they store and manage what they consider one of the most critical data assets that they have,” Challa says.

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