When most decision makers think about a new video surveillance solution, they typically think about only video cameras and video management software.


But that’s a mistake.




Because video storage often exceeds 30% of the cost of the entire solution.


Did I get your attention?


It’s true. With the improvements in the effectiveness of video surveillance, such as more high-definition cameras and longer retention times, many businesses and government agencies have had nasty surprises when their video storage bills arrive.

Because video is unstructured data, to be cost-effective, it requires special storage. Not knowing about this requirement for special storage, many businesses go with file-based storage solutions or cloud storage for all their video. They don’t realize how much more expensive it will be in the long run.


Key takeaway: Not all storage is created equal, especially when it comes to video! Neglecting to do a thorough evaluation of your options at the start of a video surveillance project can result in big, unpleasant surprises when you get your video storage bill.


Here at NetApp, we live and breathe storage. We have over 1 million installations to prove it. Let us save you time, money, and headaches by taking you through the five biggest considerations for video storage.


Reliability is huge. For example, in a prison, losing video files can mean losing evidence of a critical situation in the making. For police departments, it might mean that key evidence from a body-worn camera is lost. In a court setting, that lost evidence might have been crucial to show the situation from the point of view of the officer.


Other storage companies might claim 99.999% reliability, but if you read the fine print, you will learn that when things break, the video might be stored, but at a lower resolution. And the diminished quality might continue for an extended period while the system rebuilds itself or re-indexes itself when failed disks have been replaced.


Lower quality might not sound like a big issue, but what if the footage is from a body-worn camera and is needed to back up a police officer’s testimony? Maybe the officer saw drugs or a weapon in a perpetrator’s car through the window. The degraded resolution that’s caused by a problem with the storage solution can result in video that doesn’t show the detail that’s necessary to back up the officer’s testimony. Or in a college campus security situation, what if the video that’s captured doesn’t have the level of detail to show something critical like a concealed weapon being carried onto campus?


The bottom line is that you need your video to be stored reliably in the highest resolution and with the highest quality possible from your cameras.

High Performance and High Density in a Small Footprint

High performance and high density are important because you need to be able to store video at the fastest possible rates from the largest number of cameras.


Here’s another way to look at it: Your surveillance storage system’s video streaming bandwidth must be high enough to support and to sustain write capabilities for multiple high-resolution feeds across your network. These bandwidth requirements can be daunting. Just as high-definition video requires much more capacity when it’s stored, it also demands far more bandwidth when it’s ingested into the storage system.


On top of that, it must simultaneously support multiple high-resolution streams. That support can mean recording dozens—sometimes hundreds—of parallel video streams, consuming huge amounts of bandwidth.


And if your surveillance environment requires 24/7 video monitoring, your bandwidth utilization is even higher. Depending on the number, duration, and actual resolution of the incoming video streams, your storage system might struggle to keep up, significantly increasing the risk of dropped frames.


Again, as video evidence often plays a critical role in civil and criminal proceedings, the loss of key video images can have devastating financial and legal consequences.


So, you need enough bandwidth, but you also need enough space for your storage. Video surveillance solutions are deployed in a wide range of environments and are often installed in confined locations with little available floor space. Storage arrays that might present an acceptable footprint in conventional data centers are simply too bulky and inefficient for use in the cramped control rooms that confront many security professionals. These space limitations make the need for superior bandwidth in a space-efficient array significant.

Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Secure Systems

As someone who focuses on security, you don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on learning how to use and maintain your video storage. Your storage can and should be simple and intuitive. You want to feel confident that your video is secure, preserving your chain of evidence. You also want to be free from worries about having your video files compromised.


What you don’t want is a complex, scale-out file-system storage deployment that is finicky and that requires a trained and dedicated person to keep it running. Those complexities all add up to something going wrong when your only trained person is out sick, leaving you without key video evidence.


The one thing that is consistent in today’s environment is that your need for additional storage is pretty much a given. Adding more cameras, switching to higher-definition cameras, and responding to longer retention requirements all mean that you need additional storage. You must be able to easily add more storage without having to rearchitect your entire system. You also must be able to hot-swap components so that you don’t have to bring down your system—ever!


Many security and IT professionals don’t realize their need for scalability, and often they purchase cheap, file-based storage instead of the enterprise-level block storage, like NetApp® E-Series, that they really need. So, unfortunately, as their organization grows, they either must start from scratch or must bear the accelerating costs of adding onto their “inexpensive” initial storage investment

Low Cost of Ownership

Most security professionals are unaware that there’s a huge range in total ownership costs between the different video storage options. File-based systems, which are not optimal for storing video, can easily be 22% more costly than simple, reliable block-based storage systems. Why? Because block-based storage with its inherent flexibility and versatility and is preferred by leading Video Management System providers.


Many security professionals also fall for the lure of cloud-based storage without realizing how much costlier it will be. Many police departments have had to put their entire body-worn camera program on hold after they discovered that they couldn’t afford the cloud storage costs that are associated with their solution. By simply going to a hybrid cloud or to an on-premises block storage solution, they can get their program going again, but not without the significant additional costs of breaking contracts and rearchitecting their solution.

Take the Next Step with NetApp Video Surveillance Storage

The NetApp E-Series video surveillance solutions combine high-density capacity with superior bandwidth for the space efficiency and reliability that you need. You can record multiple streams of high-definition video without dropping frames, which is crucial for evidentiary acceptance. A single E-Series system can record digital video surveillance at 2.4GBps and has been specifically designed to handle hundreds of parallel surveillance streams from high-resolution video sources without frame loss.


You can seamlessly scale an E-Series system from 200 video cameras to 200,000, and all the components are hot-swappable, so you can upgrade them as necessary without disruption. Best of all, more than 1 million installations have proven E-Series storage to be 18% to 22% more cost effective over a 3-year lifecycle than any other platform, and it’s 99.999% reliable.


The following figure presents a summary of the NetApp video surveillance storage solution.



Now that you have a checklist of considerations for your video storage investment and you have seen how NetApp checks off each one, take the next step. Learn more about what we offer and read about the NetApp video surveillance solutions.

Julie Fagan

Julie Fagan has a long career in high-tech solutions marketing. She loves working at NetApp where she gets to focus on video surveillance and bringing the best video storage solutions to the world along with her awesome co-workers.