Physical security and the cloud - The future is Video Surveillance ‘as a Service’ (VSaaS)

6 Nov 2019

The physical security industry, traditionally video surveillance cameras (CCTV) and access control, is standing at an important inflection point.

Cloud infrastructure is now well established as an enabling factor for connecting platforms and services that is cost effective and safe, and the business benefits of doing so are clear. But this trend isn’t reflected across all industries.

As more security equipment becomes connected to the wider network, the data that it generates can be used for a much wider variety of purposes beyond protection of people and assets. Morphean is already looking at ways in which AI and machine learning can draw insights from video footage, analysing retail store footage to both improve customer experience and enhance security capabilities.

But adoption of cloud among physical security professionals is slow. We know this, because Morphean commissioned an independent survey to establish the attitudes of business decision makers towards the cloud in the UK, France and Germany. The results of this survey were revealing and, in some cases, unexpected. There’s a high degree of confidence in the cloud around email, CRM, ERP and HR; an understanding of its benefits; but adoption remains lower than in other business critical areas.

A lack of VSaaS adoption

The primary concern, expressed by 73% of respondents, is around cybersecurity, and it’s understandable that there’s caution around adopting VSaaS – after all, if your physical security gets hacked the consequences would be severe. In reality, however, cloud services are demonstrably safer than many on-premise solutions, especially when they are configured for end-to-end encryption and the provider is directly responsible for ensuring firmwares are updated against the latest cybersecurity threats.

Cloud services can offer better guarantees when it comes to compliance with legislation such as GDPR. Cameras, by their nature, capture personal data about customers which needs to be anonymised and protected. Blocking out faces before files are passed to long term storage, for example, could be one effective compliance measure. As GDPR enforcement grows, a VSaaS service can be updated to the latest requirements.

A changing procurement model

One key challenge is the way in which the prevalent business models in the sector operate. Potential customers are used to ‘as a service’ models in which they pay for usage, avoiding large capital expenses by purchasing IT infrastructure out of their operating budget when they need it. In a VSaaS world, this means offering customers the flexibility of adding or removing devices depending on their business needs, based around a single, regular licensing payment.

This is the proven business model of cloud, yet the security industry has been slow to adopt it. VSaaS is still alien to installers and integrators used to selling hardware on narrow margins, reliant on existing financial arrangements with distributors to fund new equipment. Transitioning to sales cycles based on monthly licences rather than up-front purchases won’t be easy, but the security channel must learn how if it is to remain competitive and drive new business opportunities.

VSaaS: An opportunity to deliver much more than security

The physical security industry must wake up to the opportunity. IP video cameras and smart access control devices are part of a mix of technologies that, when combined with data from multiple sources, can produce valuable business insights and automate decision making. Security is just one benefit of a much greater system and customers are starting to demand it. Those who aren’t ready to provide what their customers want will be left behind.