There was a time when network attached storage (NAS) was avoided when it came to surveillance. The technology just wasn’t optimized for the write-intensive nature of video surveillance.
Times have changed as more physical security products move to the IP backbone, however.
NAS manufacturers have “started developing products specifically designed for video solutions with disk drives that could handle the high I/O requirements and increased write speeds,” noted James Marcella at SecurityInfoWatch.com, director of technical services for Axis (News - Alert) Communications.
“NAS has been a staple in the IT and consumer industries with a decade of proven performance,” he wrote. “As network drive capacities, write speeds and I/O performance continue to advance, NAS solutions will proliferate and become commonplace among security installations.”
There are three main uses for NAS in the surveillance industry, according to Marcella.
First, NAS works well when there’s a temporary need to add cameras or increase recorded frame rates for a specific period of time. In these situations, popping on NAS to the network is an easy way to scale storage capacity without having to reconfigure a video storage solution.
Second, NAS can serve as a local archive for surveillance setups that take advantage of cloud services.
“Integrators are now offering Video-Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS), charging a monthly fee to host a customer’s recordings offsite at a data facility,” wrote Marcella. “This model – which is perfect for the multi-site business owner who needs a few cameras at each location – reduces upfront capital costs and gives the end user the flexibility of adding and removing cameras as needed without having to worry about sufficient onsite storage capacity.”
But, bandwidth is a limiting factor for such setups.
“Bandwidth generally dictates configuration choices like resolution, frame rate and number of cameras that can be deployed,” noted Marcella. “With a local NAS recording option, a user can archive video at a higher resolution and frame rate onsite while lower resolution, lower frame rate video streams to the hosting provider.”
Finally, NAS can serve as an easy server-less solution. With a NAS, network cameras can stream directly to the device without the need for a server-based video management system (VMS).
The downside of going without a VMS is the lack of tools for searching the video or viewing multiple cameras simultaneously.
For small operations, however, cheap network cameras combined with a NAS can serve as a basic surveillance system when the business might otherwise not be able to afford it.
“A small business could deploy a four camera system with a 2TB NAS solution for less than $1,500, delivering HDTV-quality video recordings,” suggested Marcella.
“If additional functionality is needed,” he added, “there are other client-based applications that provide a viewer ‘window’ into the stored video on the NAS.” Many of these are freely available from camera manufacturers’ websites.
Edited by Rich Steeves