SP&T News

A balanced approach to cloud-based and on-prem surveillance

August 1, 2022  By Glenn Basale

Image courtesy Axis Communications

There are many reasons why cloud connectivity, IoT and advancements in network camera technology have transformed on-premises surveillance into a smart, interconnected system of cameras and sensors.

Add to that out-of-the-box-ready recording solutions complemented by a surveillance workstation that is preloaded with video management software, and voila! The result is a balanced end-to-end monitoring solution to better protect the public and businesses.

Most industries today have either redundant components or backups on-premise or in the cloud for various parts of their surveillance systems. The reasoning behind this is management: some things are simpler to manage on-premise and some in the cloud. However, there are certainly some antiquated systems out there that have a hard time migrating to fully utilize the cloud or even being on-prem because they were built strictly for one or the other.

Physical security systems like video cameras, intercoms and audio, and sensors (I/O devices and people counters) account for one component of the elements required to fully protect and secure. Then there’s the duties and responsibilities of all staff including IT, corporate policy, and facility and security personnel. They require appropriate training and a solid understanding of the technology, processes, and laws and regulations. Add to that cloud connectivity, and now you have the capacity to collect and process data to derive powerful insights that can aid in security and operational directives.


This full suite of physical, behavioural and digital helps businesses better manage their security, be prepared for potential disruption, and make smarter decisions.

Prepare for and respond to an incident on premises
It’s easy to see why on-site technology takes precedence. It can help the security team by providing early warning of an evolving incident. Such upgrades like network video cameras with on-board or edge analytics can offer benefits to both cloud and on-prem systems because the computing is done at the camera or IoT device level. Analytics allow visibility and detect various incidents, for example shattered glass, loud noises and suspicious packages. Edge-based processing can package the video data and send an alarm to a receiving centre, security and incident response teams or emergency services for instant review.

Security teams need to think and act quickly to save lives — this is vital, and technology empowers this approach by being a force multiplier. During an evacuation, triggering an automated sequence of security responses that feed through a building’s on-site management system helps to move people from one location to safe zones by signaling designated pathways. Concomitantly, access is restricted to other zones of the site.

Basically, when it comes to surveillance, it’s usually a combination of what the business needs. What features are required? Video storage can be on-prem or in the cloud. Analyzing video in the cloud is also possible. In the end, it’s how to design a system that works for the end customer.

To give an example, a customer may require storage redundancy to meet some type of law or regulation, and rather than have it on-prem where it is another hardware box onsite to manage, they could put that component into the cloud. But with that comes different costs and potential changes in the infrastructure.

Cloud security provides flexibility
Cloud technology really proves its worth during times of disruption. We experienced this during lockdowns that brought a surge in video conferencing platforms. This resulted in people implementing change in a flash and with confidence that a problem was well-managed.

The cloud has transformed businesses across many industries. It can instantly scale, be managed from one central locale, and provide visibility to the entire company. Consider CCTV — it now forms part of a wider IoT dimension where connectivity and customization thrive.

What’s helpful to businesses when using cloud-based video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) coupled with access control as-a-service (ACaaS) solutions, is that together they offer complete flexibility. The entire system can be built around an “as-a-service” operational expenditure (OpEx).

Real-life scenarios show the system can be easily deployed via an existing IT network, customized, and even scaled up or down to directly match dollar value to the operational need and business problems. Additionally, the full system is up-to-date and online, supported by the latest security software and firmware upgrades.

A real-life data centre scenario requires a hybrid approach
Having both cloud and on-prem surveillance is truly a “best of both worlds” system. If a company has a cloud setup, they can access it quite easily from any location. With an on-prem solution, if connectivity goes down, they continue to work, and the system is still up and running. It’s beneficial to have some redundancies in place on both sides.

Consider data centres, for example, where a zero-trust strategy needs to be adopted. Data centres are critical infrastructure that countries, cities, and the economy depend on, and any disruption to them can have severe repercussions. Their essential role and the value of the data they contain makes them a target for both physical and cyber-attacks.

These self-contained sites are recognized by bad actors as valuable commodities, and sophisticated efforts are made to gain both physical and digital access. In this case, it is essential that, regardless of location and security personnel, surveillance technology should secure the facility from threats from the perimeter to the core server room.

With physical theft and digital disruption, a multi-layered and integrated approach to security is key. On-site network video surveillance, audio and cloud-based solutions that provide analytics provide many flexible benefits to help data centres rise to the challenge.

Strong partnerships support end-to-end solutions
Over the next few years, we’ll start to see a need to move major data points in a much easier fashion between on-prem and cloud systems — especially when taking data from analytics and statistics to paint a bigger picture for users.

We can create a sophisticated system by tying more together. As our systems grow and the amount of data we generate grows, we can then analyze this more robust data. When we do this, we can identify trends that will help us in various ways. Businesses could see when systems go down, have a spike in traffic, or notice certain objects in a camera’s view and their frequency. A lot more opportunities present themselves when all data can be captured and analyzed from one location to help make decisions from operational and security standpoints.

“Companies should invest in intelligence and not spend on security.” What is meant by this statement? To shed old paradigms, cameras should be thought of less as the “be all and end all” security device, and more as an integrated mix of end-to-end solutions that, when used in synergy with data captured from multiple sources, can produce helpful insights for businesses and help automate their decision-making. Companies should work with providers that have an open system and can integrate with other partner solutions to get the best results. If they cannot source everything from one manufacturer, then look to one that is open-minded and works with a large partner network. Essentially, partnerships are key.

In the end, security is just one beneficial vessel, while cloud is at the heart of the system. A company should consider both as it provides added value and overall easier management.

Glenn Basale is a solutions engineer with Axis Communications (www.axis.com).

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