With a growing emphasis on the delivery of smart solutions which utilise big data, so an increasing number of businesses and organisations are seeking solutions which deliver efficiencies along with effective protection of people, premises and assets. While security data in its many forms – video, audio, transactional data, status information and reporting – is generated, transmitted and processed around the clock, the growth of added value services such as business intelligence and smart site management has significantly increased the network load. While the benefits of integration and technological convergence are a positive for integrators and installers, these systems only offer value for money if the necessary infrastructure can deliver continuity and resilience.
Smart security and building solutions have become a part of the everyday technological landscape for an increasing number of businesses and organisations. The integration of advanced security systems with out technologies such as lift control, vehicular access, time and attendance systems, cashless vending and process control increases the return on investment for many businesses. As such, it is a simple move to justify for many end users.
Part of the reason a growing number of businesses are embracing this approach is because they already use converged systems and services for their core operations. For example, financial institutions make use of integrated systems and cloud-based services for the management of assets, the transfer of funds and documents, auditing and compliance, invoicing and communication with customers and other companies. They’re comfortable with the technology because they use it everyday for their core activities.
It must be remembered that a company’s core activities are what makes it money. If the core activities fail, the company fails. If a business is willing to allow its core activities to be managed using smart technologies across several different platforms, then it is unlikely to consider this approach to be unsuitable for secondary activities.
Secondary activities are the processes a business must engage in, but which are not part of its core activity. Such activities include heating and ventilation, energy management, staff and visitor car parking, canteens and vending, etc.. One important secondary activity for many companies is security and safety.
Not only have security and safety systems migrated to the new platforms commonly used for core activities, but they increasingly provide efficiencies by integrating with other systems. For example, access control is commonly used to manage people entering or leaving a building. However, when integrated with elevator management systems, the security solution can add benefits. For example, staff are prevented from selecting floors if their access permissions do not include those departments. However, the combination of the security and elevator software can also determine which floor a user is based on, and identify the best lift to use, thus reducing congestion and keeping reception areas clear: a vital consideration as pandemic restrictions are still in place.
Of course, for smart security systems to really offer value, they must be reliable, robust and secure. If the infrastructure supporting the solution fails, the result could be inconvenience for users and a waste of staff resources, or in a worst-case scenario might lead to significant losses for the business. If staff cannot enter a department, or the building is evacuated for no reason, the end user is unlikely to be impressed if the cause is an infrastructure failure.
So, how can the credibility of the infrastructure be ensured for systems delivering secondary activities? The answer lies in looking at the approach taken for core activities.
A secure platform
The answer lies in adopting a high availability approach. This makes use of several techniques to ensure continuity and security of data. The core elements of a high availability infrastructure are real-time replication, load balancing and failover. In many cases, the way to implement such a solution is clustering, a hardware-based approach which can increase costs significantly.
Clustering uses a number of servers in a single system. If one server suffers an outage, the load is passed to another, thereby eliminating downtime. Clustered servers are designed to support systems which manage a lot of constantly changing data. This is ideal for dynamic industries and commercial operations, and it is also ideal for security applications where data is constantly being collected and analysed.
Clustered serves do carry a cost. First, there is the expense of duplicated hardware. Second, every individual server needs to be loaded with the OS and all applications, which creates issues relating to licensing and maintenance, such as upgrades and patches.
However, there is a simpler and more cost-effective way to enjoy all the benefits, without the need for excessive hardware replication or on-going maintenance. It is the use of software-based high availability systems. One example is Evidian SafeKit.
Evidian SafeKit is a software-only high availability solution. Designed to secure critical applications, it focuses on hardware and software failover. The loss of availability of a system or application usually stems from hardware failure, software issues or bugs, system overload or human error. SafeKit can help protect the infrastructure against all these threats.
For integrators and installers, one of the benefits is that the software can be installed on standard IT hardware, without any need for specific IT skills. Additionally, the software is well suited for security applications and is currently supported by Milestone Systems, Hanwha Techwin, Siemens and Nedap, amongst others.
SafeKit offers three different benefits in a single software solution. It enables load balancing to prevent the network from being swamped, and replicates storage synchronously on a SAN to provide high levels of data availability. Finally, it provides a toolkit for application failure recovery.
SafeKit can be deployed on existing physical or virtual servers and is compatible with standard editions of OS and databases, including Windows, Linux, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Firebird, MariaDB, PostgreSQL or others. It will even run on Windows editions for desktop PCs. SafeKit can also be deployed in cloud-based environments.
Installation is simple. The integrator or installer merely loads the application, the SafeKit software and the failover module on two servers. There is no need for additional hardware or complicated network configurations to be made. The software makes use of a user-friendly browser-based GUI to ensure configuration and testing is straightforward.
Cluster configurations offer as high level of customisation, allowing choices about how the data is mirrored, the failover sequences and how the load can be balanced. A modular approach allows flexibility in terms of system design, providing a solution which can easily be adapted to virtually any system.
As the added value of smart security solutions increases, so a growing number of businesses and organisations will be seeking to maximise their return on investment. It is critical than when such solutions are provided, the infrastructure is reliable and robust. Adopting a high availability approach is critical to this.
Evidian SafeKit is a cost-effective, easy-to-install, high availability software solution which provides data replication, virtual clustering, failover and failback support. It can easily be deployed on legacy systems of all sizes, whether a small commercial enterprise of a smart city application.
The final word goes to a Milestone value-added distributor, NOEMIS, which has supplied SafeKit to several integrators and installers. Sebastien Temoin, the company’s Technical and Innovation Director, stated, ‘SafeKit is a professional solution which simplifies the redundancy of Milestone Management Server, Event Server and Log Server. The solution is easy to deploy, easy to maintain and can be added to existing installations. We have assisted integrators to deploy the solution on many projects such as city surveillance, datacentres, stadiums and other critical infrastructure. SafeKit is a great product, and Evidian provides great support.’