Super-regional sees potential in hosted video storage

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Monday, July 18, 2011

DAVENPORT, Iowa—Per Mar Security’s hosted video storage offering is “in its infant stages, but gaining momentum,” and VP of Per Mar’s Electronic Security Division Brad Tolliver believes it holds promise as an RMR generator.

A full-service super-regional, Per Mar has 35,000 customers, 65 percent of which are commercial. It does business across Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota and here in Iowa, where it is headquartered. It offers electronic security services, fire as well as guards, who do “alarm response service” for many of its commercial and residential customers.

Per Mar began offering hosted video storage about a year ago. “We’re hosting video storage from IP cameras in the place of putting a DVR at the customer site ... using Pivot3 equipment,” Tolliver said.

He decided to offer this service after a customer inquired about storing video from multiple locations and for a long duration. Today, Per Mar is hosting video storage for several customers and “hundreds of cameras.” It is also offering the service to other dealers. Per Mar has a UL-listed central station and provides third-party monitoring services for other dealers.

“We can offer the service to a broad spectrum of [customers and dealers]. It’s gaining traction,” he said.

Hosted video storage makes the most sense for one-to-eight camera applications, he said. “The benefit [for the customer] is the lower upfront installation cost because you don’t have the initial fee for the DVR, [and] there’s no [maintenance cost or] threat of the DVR being stolen, or damaged,” Tolliver said. The end user has remote connectivity to the video, and the video is all backed up, he added.

Providing hosted video storage is not something every security company is well suited to provide. Per Mar had the infrastructure in place to make this investment. “The key is having the pipeline into the facility that can handle the bandwidth,” he said. Getting the service set up “involved a lot of engineering and IT support, but fortunately we have a very strong IT department that could configure the head end for us.”

Getting the service up and running also involved a “sizeable upfront investment to set up servers, and redundancy,” Tolliver said.

“It’s the wave of the future for the [one-to-eight camera] applications,” Tolliver said. “In the one-to-eight camera areas, this opens doors to a cost-effective solution and provides flexibility and a higher level of security for the end-user.”

Lee Caswell, chief strategy officer for serverless storage company Pivot3, said video surveillance hosting has a set of unique requirements that make the hosted model suitable for a small segment of the market. “Essentially the issue comes down to the bandwidth needed to support streaming video ... A dedicated high-speed network can solve the problem a different way but few customers outside of governments can afford the expense,” he said.

Caswell predicted that bandwidth from the cameras to the cloud won’t see the next major bump for three to five years. “So for now, hosted surveillance makes most sense when you can ratchet back the frame rates, resolution and number of cameras. That’s still compelling for a small business with limited budget and limited risk, but mainstream adoption will take some time to occur.”

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