Calculate your costs: On-premises vs. cloud-based solutions

Ephrem Tesfai, Sales Engineering Manager META at Genetec compares on premise vs cloud video surveillance solutions, in order to aid companies to make the best choice for their physical security requirements.

Safety and security go hand in hand. For example, in Sharjah, the residents’ safety is attributed to the abundance of video surveillance cameras operating around the clock. Similar to cities, video surveillance is an essential part of an organization’s physical security to ensure the employees’ and customers’ safety. With technology rapidly advancing, many consider cloud-based video management systems (VMS) to either replace or enhance their existing on-premises systems. But is a cloud-based system worth it?

It is best to break down the costs of both systems through the following three stages: pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment.

Before an organization can deploy a VMS, they need to filter through available options and find the system that best meets your physical security needs.

For an on-premises system, a budget should be allocated for the cost of purchasing the software and all additional video recording and storage hardware, including servers, switches, and cameras. A chunk of the company’s budget will also have to go towards capacity planning, including purchasing and keeping an inventory of hardware for future use. This can lead to wasted resources – whether that’s due to paying for unused equipment and storage if their estimation is too high or incurring the costs later on if more storage is needed.

Less planning is typically needed when it comes to cloud-based video surveillance as a service (VSaaS). For true-cloud solutions, video is recorded and stored directly in the cloud, with no need for on-site recording equipment. Because the software is hosted in the cloud, it’s also easily scalable and allows enterprises to only pay for the storage that they use. As the businesses evolve, adding or removing cameras and selecting the resolution and storage that meets their current needs si recommended. A cloud-based VMS also calls for lower up-front software costs than the average on-premises VMS, with predictable monthly or annual payment plans.

After setting the foundation for the company’s VMS comes the deployment stage, where the VMS is set up and implemented. An on-premises VMS will require hardware, like DVRs or network bridges, to be physically installed on-site during this stage. These installation and labor costs are typically charged by the hour. The software may need updating right off the bat, which adds to the long list of things to do throughout the deployment.

A cloud-based VMS calls for significantly less installation time and costs, as the surveillance cameras are the only hardware that requires physical installation. This removes most of the labor costs. In terms of software updates and maintenance, the vendor is included and released as soon as they’re available.

Ongoing costs after deployment make up the bulk of an organization’s VMS budget since its system will require consistent maintenance. An on-premises VMS will need a system administrator to maintain the upkeep of the system. It will also incur IT hardware costs to fix or replace defective hardware and IT software costs to manage ongoing patching and updating. Cooling and power costs are also necessary to physically run the servers.

Ongoing costs are divided a little differently when it comes to a cloud-based VMS. Upgrade and software maintenance are provided by the vendor and free of charge. Ongoing costs come in the form of a monthly fee paid to the vendor, predetermined, predictable, and easy to manage. A cloud-based VMS also removes the need for on-premise maintenance and labor costs since this is done remotely through the cloud.

Which VMS makes sense for you?
While the EMEA Physical Security in 2021 Survey results indicated that more entreprises within the region are opting for cloud-based VMS, there is no actual superior VMS; this all depends on each enterprise’s case and budget. It is essential to consider the various factors that could affect this decision, such as the number of sites, the number of cameras per site, the recording resolution, the recording frame rate, and the retention period. Therefore, which VMS is appropriate for an enterprise is not a one-size-fits-all situation and needs to be approached strategically.