Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
October 7, 2016

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The Video Surveillance Report 2021

RAID surveillance storage is no longer fit for purpose: Veracity CEO pitches COLDSTORE

RAID systems are hopelessly inadequate for modern surveillance needs, says Veracity CEO Alastair McLeod.

Speaking to IFSEC Global, McLeod says that COLDSTORE, the company’s sequential data storage system, offers a better solution to the ever-growing storage needs of modern CCTV systems.

By blindly carrying on with RAID5 or RAID6 systems for video recording, integrators and consultants are making their end users pay a lot more for the total cost of ownership over time” Alastair McLeod, CEO, Veracity

Read the interview below.

veracity-coldstore

alistair-mcleod-veracityIFSEC Global: In a data-hungry world, storage needs are soaring – how is Veracity responding to this?

Alastair McLeod, CEO, Veracity: Client capacity for surveillance systems is going through the roof for many reasons: HD cameras, 4k cameras, full frame rate recording, 24/7 recording, increasing retention times…

More traditional approaches to surveillance storage for high capacity, such as RAID5 or RAID6 are expensive, complex and power-hungry with a relatively short useful lifetime. They’re very hard on disks, so more expensive enterprise-level disks must be used.

Even the IT market is moving away from RAID systems, because it’s a very old technology and there are better ways of solving the redundancy problem”

So about six years ago we launched a product called COLDSTORE, which was specifically designed for surveillance from the ground up: electronics, firmware, hardware – everything. It’s been very successful, considering we started as a very small company. We’re much bigger now.

COLDSTORE is now really coming into its own, because it’s a sequential storage system, and does things in an entirely different way. It makes hard disks extremely reliable and longer-lasting and also uses a factor of 10 times less power.

The message we’re trying to get to the market now is that times are changing. Capacities are going through the roof.

Even the IT market is moving away from RAID systems, because it’s a very old technology and there are better ways of solving the redundancy problem. Individual disks are now getting so big – eight terabyte, 10 terabyte – that disk rebuild times for RAID systems are getting ridiculously long.

Most IT data is database-driven, with many read-modify-rewrite processes going on. Video data is evidence, and so is never modified”

Also while it might not matter for IT systems, for video systems the recording performance drops dramatically while rebuilding a RAID volume. A sequential recording system like COLDSTORE does not suffer from that problem.

So we’re trying to educate the video surveillance market and getting the message across that IT data is very different to video data.

IG: In what ways is video surveillance data different to IT data?

AM: It’s different in the way data is generated, stored, retrieved, the way it’s managed, exported and deleted. Because most IT data is database-driven, with many read-modify-rewrite processes going on. Video data is evidence, and so is never modified.  Video surveillance data is kept for a specific length of time – 30 days, 90 days, whatever – then it’s deleted. It’s a cyclic sequential system, totally unlike most IT data.

All those factors taken together mean there are completely different requirements for surveillance storage versus IT data storage.  Those differences are amplified the bigger the system gets, as you scale up to a thousand cameras or beyond.

By blindly carrying on with RAID5 or RAID6 systems for video recording, integrators and consultants are making their end users pay a lot more for the total cost of ownership over time. So this is the message we’re trying to get across: you can have a far lower total cost by taking a different approach.

IG: And what alternative approach does COLDSTORE offer?

COLDSTORE is not the only alternative, but it’s an alternative approach, very specifically designed for mass surveillance storage.

And now we’re seeing body-worn cameras in use. For video data from body-worn cameras to be any use for, say, anti-terrorism purposes and so on, the data will have to be kept for quite a while – that is, the retention times will be long and the storage requirements will be high. This makes the low-power, long-lifetime approach of COLDSTORE critically important.

Now one of the options that some body-worn camera companies are pushing is to store data in the cloud. That only works up to a point, because a police force is deploying 20,000 body-worn cameras – and that’s a hell of a lot of bandwidth.

It’s why video-surveillance-as-a-service hasn’t worked, because bandwidth for upload isn’t there yet.  There are also concerns about exactly where, geographically, this evidence is stored and whether it can ever be properly protected from hackers.

So we require much more efficient local storage which can be properly and physically secured.

IG: So do you work with body-worn camera developers?

AM: Yes. A policeman, fireman or whoever can put their body-worn cameras into a recharging receptacle, which is also the device for downloading the data. We can archive that to COLDSTORE directly and save the customer a lot of money – and in these days of austerity the emergency services and law enforcement are very stretched financially.

IG: What trends do you see unfolding in the next couple of years that you can benefit from?

AM: The next step is to make the storage solution more efficient for general video surveillance.

IG: And how do you make the storage solution more efficient?

AM: Cut out the NVR entirely and go direct from the camera to the disk.

Open platform cameras from Axis Communications, Hanwha Techwin, FLIR, UDP, Hikvision and other manufacturers allow you to run third party software in the camera, typically for video analytics purposes. We can now adapt those cameras to write directly to disk, i.e. COLDSTORE.

Therefore you don’t have the capital cost of the servers, replacement costs, running costs, and you don’t have the capital cost and running cost of the in-house systems, because some of them are licence-based, so annual recurring licences – you don’t have all that. Again, this vastly reduces the total cost of commissioning.

Intelligent cameras can make decisions on where to store, how to store, camera level failover, that sort of thing – which we incorporate in our system”

IP camera manufacturers, as they react to the race to the bottom on price driven by the government-subsidised Hikvision, with the resulting disruption and distortion in the market, are going to move towards differentiation – and differentiation means putting more features into the camera through open platforms and third-party software.

It’s making the cameras more intelligent.  Intelligent cameras can make decisions on where to store, how to store, camera level failover, that sort of thing – which we incorporate in our system.

We call it TRINITY, because we have camera, storage, client PC. So it’s now a triangular system rather than a star system like the old NVR systems with external storage.

IG: What other verticals are you targeting apart from law enforcement?

AM: We’ve been selling COLDSTORE for over six years now, typically aimed at the bigger systems, the bigger projects: for stadiums, hospitals, ports, prisons, airports, big infrastructure projects and things like that.

So the way our system works, you can have a variety of client front ends. We’ve integrated with systems like SSM (Hanwha Techwin’s Security System Manager), i-Comply’s VTAS Pro, Titan Vision from Visual Management Systems, Synectics, and ISM.

We also say that protection of critical national infrastructure is becoming more of a thing. And one of our partners, Visual Management Systems, have an encryption system which allows them to be certified by certified (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure).

So for high security sites like power stations, road tunnels, nuclear sites, military sites, this encryption method is required for running the systems and therefore our TRINITY solution now has that option as well.

IG: Do you feel Veracity’s products are fairly unique in this market?

AM: I wouldn’t claim to be unique, but we’re very, very different.

Certainly COLDSTORE is unique, but there have been other systems which can write directly to NAS, although limited in scope.

So we’ve got more of an open system. We’re the only people to work with multiple camera ranges and multiple front ends, to give the customer lots of choice.

There are very good reasons for using the storage system as I’ve outlined, especially with the direct-to-disk approach. We think this will be one of the most interesting near-future trends in the surveillance market. IP cameras are going to change and the architecture of systems is going to change.

Free Download: The Video Surveillance Report 2021

Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector, directly from the people at its heart. We surveyed over 400 professionals working in the field to bring you the 2021 Video Surveillance Report. Responses come from installers and integrators to consultants and heads of security, as we explore the latest trends in the sector including video analytics; the use of surveillance outside of security operations; cloud-based storage solutions; integration; the impact of COVID-19; the market outlook and more!

Download for FREE to discover top industry insight around the latest innovations in network cameras and video surveillance systems.

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Robin Hughes
Robin Hughes
October 11, 2016 5:59 pm

Nice article Ali but not exactly a balanced piece, more marketing than technical fact. Whilst the argument for using specialised storage systems designed and optimised for HD surveillance applications gets ever stronger, our research points to greater ongoing savings being achieved by utilising less, more powerful machines with larger on-board storage volumes. You correctly identified that Video data is very different from IT data and the industry continues to purchase COTS servers from IT companies with little to no knowledge of video, this is where problems start to arise. Watch this space or for a more detailed response.