Video surveillance – creating new opportunities for the channel

Video surveillance is increasingly gaining the attention of businesses as a means to reduce crime such as theft and even increase productivity.

September 26, 2013

By Kalvin Subbadu, Components Sales Manager, WD South Africa

Video surveillance is increasingly gaining the attention of businesses as a means to reduce crime such as theft and even increase productivity. In earlier days, these companies would identify a suitable security reseller to provide them with a solution that runs on its own dedicated network. However, with the introduction of convergence – the collapsing of voice, video and data into a single network – the lines have become increasingly blurred and IT resellers can tap into this opportunity by providing video surveillance as part of their offering and expertise. In order to leverage this relatively new market, resellers need to ensure they provide the appropriate equipment, especially hard drives that are suited to the job.

The introduction of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras that run off an IP network has been advantageous to say the least. End user customers are now able to make use of their existing data network to transport video and voice, reducing both the initial investment costs as well as ongoing maintenance. Having a reseller that is skilled in both IT and video surveillance is therefore a benefit to businesses as only one set of skills is required to install and maintain a video surveillance solution.

The right hard drive for the right environment
Digital footage stored on hard drives has simplified video surveillance and delivered many benefits. However, this content is constantly streaming and can require Terabytes (TB) of storage. It is therefore important to ensure that the hard drives that store this footage are ‘purpose built’ for these environments and include features such as 24×7 reliability and impressive capacities.

A common mistake that IT resellers make is to assume that a desktop drive is suitable for use in a surveillance environment. The fact is they do work in these environments but it is important to understand that surveillance applications are not only demanding but require hard drives with specific and appropriate features.

If we look at the requirements of a PC user, the integrity of information is paramount, especially when we consider applications and functions such as company financials. Losing the ‘ones and zeros’ is not an option. In a surveillance environment, a second or two of missing footage is less important as the next piece of footage recorded will ensure the ‘full picture’ is delivered. AV drives are geared towards processing the next piece of video as opposed to sheer data speed. Therefore, using a desktop drive in a video surveillance environment is akin to running a race in high heels rather than shoes that are designed for running.

Furthermore, digital video surveillance systems run in demanding 24/7 environments and AV hard drives are engineered with this in mind. In addition, AV drives have been developed to manage up to 12 simultaneous audio-video streams. Purpose built AV hard drives incorporate comprehensive features and capabilities such as high resolution image quality, streaming video from multiple cameras, video archiving with ultra-fast data access and on-demand video playback. And as we all know, higher capacity – as in the case of AV drives – enables higher resolution.

Reliability is non-negotiable
However, where AV drives are really optimised for surveillance environments is through its reliability enablers. Reliability in servicing streams is core and command completion time, the ability to speedily process video to ensure it is ready for the next piece of footage, is the benchmark for this. It is important to consider this feature when selecting an AV hard drive.

Incorporating new media formats such as Advanced Format Technology (AF) which enables increased areal densities, AV drives are indeed optimised for video surveillance environments. Drives that incorporate AF feature larger physical sectors which allow for enhanced data protection and correction algorithms, therefore generally helping to improve data reliability.

Further enhancing reliability is the fact that AV hard drives generally run at a lower temperature. It’s well-known that heat and humidity can wreak havoc on equipment and hard drives are no different. As surveillance and video streaming environments are extremely demanding, AV hard drives generate less heat. With the emphasis on reliability, less power is consumed during spin-up and operations which in turn minimises heat dissipation and vibration.

In conclusion, in order for resellers to create new revenue streams from video surveillance, they need to ensure that they have the right hardware for this environment. Installing an incorrect hard drive can not only result in a solution that may not last as long as one with the appropriate drive, it can also mar the reseller’s reputation as system failure equates to customer disillusionment and dissatisfaction. In order to leverage the opportunities that video surveillance offers to IT resellers, ensure the right hard drive is specified.