Home Business A Hybrid Future: the next steps for Cloud in the Security Industry

A Hybrid Future: the next steps for Cloud in the Security Industry

by Geny Caloisi
Cloud computing is an indispensable component of the digital landscape and, if not already, will be an essential part of every large-scale security technology installation. Gartner states that 40% of North American and European enterprises have begun adopting industry cloud platforms and predicts that over half of all critical business initiatives will be accelerated by cloud platforms by 2027 – up from just 10% in 2010.

David Needham, EMEA Business Development Manager at Axis Communications, talked to Benchmark to share his views on the role cloud technology has to play in security applications – and explained that cloud use will be different for every company and every system

To start with, he pointed out that the cloud’s place in any system is not a simple question with a simple answer, “It is a conversation, a deliberation, a calculation: there are scenarios when the use of the cloud makes indisputable sense, and others where it does not. And, by definition, the cloud represents a shared model of responsibility. It is part of a complex picture, one which is painted through trust, partnership and a comprehensive understanding of a customer’s needs.”

The use of cloud technology in the security space, as elsewhere, is growing rapidly, but the cloud is only ideal in some scenarios, every time. Building the optimal solution means finding those places where cloud technology will have the most impact whilst also commanding the power of on-premise servers and edge processing elsewhere.

“The security field has many as-a-service connected models to draw from,” Needham says, “These can assist with the management of infrastructure (IaaS), platforms (PaaS), software (SaaS), and even core camera functions through Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS). It is tempting to see these as a quick and easy solution to building a security installation, and indeed, many customers may request them. 

“But before drawing up a plan that includes the use of the cloud, systems integrators must carefully consider the environment to be secured and ensure adequate infrastructure is in place to support the proposed installation.”

Cloud tools demand a stable, fast internet connection, and without this, a security installation, in, for instance, a remote electrical substation, may be sluggish to respond or unable to function adequately; system upgrades may leverage technology already installed on a customers’ site – if this is legacy hardware or a vital component of some other system which cannot be changed, it may prove difficult to integrate with cloud technology. Cloud must be introduced to support, rather than compete with, a company’s data storage strategy, so it may not be a suitable option for some.

Compliance and cybersecurity

Introducing the tools, power, and availability of the cloud can make a networked camera system more flexible, scalable, and efficient. But while, in theory, cloud tools minimise many of the challenges associated with surveillance systems, they may also present issues for certain businesses. 

Needham elaborates, “For many installations, for example, cloud services may assist in matching the IT governance requirements of the customer, but for others, they may go against them. A responsible zero-trust approach makes cloud interactions no less risky than operating entirely with on-premise solutions – indeed, the removal of air-gapped processes helps ensure a network can be properly monitored, managed, and maintained – but this may not work for all businesses.

“Others may not be able to deal with temporarily unavailable data due to deep-seated confidentiality principles. In certain industries, including those that deal with sensitive data, cloud solutions may not be permissible as they introduce greater exposure to the internet. Depending on their cybersecurity principles, certain cloud functions like two-factor authentication can actively increase cyber defences for some organisations.”

Processing on the edge

Whatever an organisation’s cybersecurity or confidentiality policies, certain functions of networked security systems are more effectively run outside of the cloud. For example, modern surveillance demands fast, accurate analytics using deep-learning techniques to perform object classification and detection. Although it is technically possible to perform this kind of function in a server- or cloud-based environment, edge technology has superseded such methods. 

Needham comments, “The power of on-camera processing overcomes significant bandwidth challenges, reduces video processing overhead, and means analytics can be acted upon fast. Security’s future will see powerful, connected edge devices proliferating and more and more processing performed well away from servers. 

There are aspects of operation where cloud services are very well suited to security. In the UK, the Data Protection Act requires the storage of archival footage to comply with legal requirements. Since most security footage is never reviewed, keeping an in-house server running may not be as cost-effective as storing it in the cloud.” 

For archiving, a majority upload process which favours storage over processing, the cloud can be the perfect match; for more processor-intensive tasks, cloud services may prove more cost-prohibitive. 

Hybrid systems offering maximum potential

Needham concludes, “The future of cloud in security and surveillance will be determined by the opportunities it creates, weighed against the risks it inherently carries – and the needs of each installation will determine the level of potential integration.

“Cloud’s true future in security revolves around selecting and adapting those parts of it that are truly relevant or viable and introducing them as part of a hybrid model which exploits the best of all worlds. There is true value to be found in such a model. As cloud solutions converge with stronger connected end-point hardware and ever-more advanced management tools, every deployment has the chance to innovate towards a smarter, safer world.”

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