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Trends in data storage

The video surveillance industry continues to see a steady increase in the amount of video content being generated and stored, writes Eric Polet, Product Marketing Manager at the data storage product company Spectra Logic.

From camera resolution to frame rates that are recorded, cameras are capturing more data than ever before. It is estimated that just under ten million surveillance cameras were shipped in 2006 and this number has grown to over 130 million in 2018. With the rise in the number of cameras shipped, longer retention rates, increasing camera intelligence, greater adoption of analytics, compliance with regulations such as GDPR and more content aggregation are all impacting video storage needs and burdening existing systems. Many organisations are realising that the amount of managed digital assets will continue to exponentially grow. This means that storage strategies for video content can quickly take up a major part of their budgets, as well as increase the time required to design and execute on them. To that end, businesses need to plan ahead and implement storage infrastructures that will expand for the future.

A number of key trends are set to characterise the video surveillance data storage market in 2019 and beyond.

Data creation and retention

In addition to more data being created, the length of time that organisations are required to keep the video is growing. Many industries are changing the length of time that organisations must keep their data, and in many cases, the amount of time video footage must be retained is tripling or increasing by even greater magnitudes. Mendocino County in the United States, for example, went from a 15-day retention period to a 90-day requirement, meaning that any video footage must be kept for an additional 75 days. This lengthening of retention times can create digital film storage issues as organisations scramble to meet these requirements. Other organisations, such as retail stores, will keep footage for extended periods of time to predict buyer behaviour in specific situations. For example, when a natural disaster is approaching, through advanced analytics, retailers have noticed that certain sweet treats sell extremely well at this time. They then strategically place these items in their stores where they will drive increased sales.

Whether organisations are required to do so due to legal mandates or to gain a competitive edge, video footage is being kept for longer periods of time and, as a result, organisations need to find cost-effective ways to store their video content. Affordable long-term video storage solutions are becoming vital to surveillance storage architectures.

Local Tiered Storage

The alternative to a cloud-based video storage solution is a storage platform that is located on-premises. Creating a local storage solution that utilises different tiers of storage can balance the cost of storage with the speed of access required. Imagine, for example, an organisation currently keeping real-time and recently recorded video content on their recording servers. Adopting a multi-tiered storage strategy would mean that once the video content is older than a pre-defined age (ie., 30 days), it is moved to a disk-based storage solution that provides instant access to the data. Then, as the video content continues to age, it is moved to a lower cost tier – a second tier disk at £0.06 per GB or, for the lowest cost tier, a tape-based solution at less than £0.01 per GB cost. Using tape storage is a method that enables users to economically retain video footage for the required length of time without breaking the budget.

Video Surveillance-as-a-service

VSaaS, or Video Surveillance as a Service, refers to hosted cloud-based video surveillance. The service typically includes video recording, storage, remote viewing, management alerts, and cybersecurity. This is very appealing due to the low up-front costs and the ease of implementation, but it comes with a trade-off. The video processing and management is performed offsite using the cloud which can become expensive quickly. With each service and processing activity there is an associated charge, and when used, the cost continues to grow. Depending on how often video content is accessed, the bill for VSaaS can easily get out of hand. Every time data is accessed from these solutions, the users are charged per gigabyte for access and download. With video footage, the cost to access your content can become cost prohibitive and users must make decisions based on the cost to access their data rather than what is best for the organisation. This is an important factor for organisations to evaluate prior to implementing a VSaaS solution.


As a result of an increased emphasis in real-time analytics, and the gaining popularity of neural networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence in recent years, video surveillance organisations have begun to create more data than their storage solutions can retain. With the vast amounts of data and analytics that can be generated from these leading technologies, it will become paramount that organisations find ways to manage and store their data in a more efficient manner.

Analytics help organisations with tasks such as understanding and tracking human behaviour, the automation of security notifications, and automatic identity masking. As GDPR and other regulations around the protection of personal data and organisational security requirements arise, the use of analytics in the surveillance industry will continue to increase.

Cybersecurity is operational security

Recent reports total the number of new malware in 2016 alone at 127 million specimen, with other sources having registered well over 250,000 new malicious programs daily in 2018. Most predict a sharp rise in ransomware, a type of cryptoviral extortion software that breaches and encrypts an individual’s or organisation’s data and asks for payment in exchange for the decryption key. These types of data kidnapping attacks threaten to publish the victim’s digital content or permanently block access to it unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks cause downtime, data loss and potential intellectual property theft.

With more data being produced that is vulnerable to cyberattack, it is crucial for organisations to develop a comprehensive data security plan and protect against ransomware. To that point, Fred Moore, president of Horison Information Strategies, in his report entitled, The Tape Air Gap, states that an offsite and offline copy of data is rapidly becoming more critical to fighting cybercrime. In this aspect, tape media provides a superior advantage against cybercrime. Tape’s inherent air-gap means that there is no electronic connection to the data on the tape cartridge that has been removed, and the medium’s advantage in preventing malware attacks is receiving increasing recognition in the industry.

Video content is being created at a faster rate than ever before and organisations are faced with the challenge of how to forecast the amount of data they need to retain, as well as consider where to store it and how they will manage it, all with limited budgets. As a result, lower cost storage solutions for video content are in high demand. Finding the right balance of features, cost and protection will help companies create a storage architecture that is truly built for the future as their video footage and retention requirements intensify.


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