Becoming the Host With the Most
So in this configuration, keeping the database safe, secure and available is the responsibility of the hosting provider, not the user. All the user has to worry about is making changes when necessary. The location is irrelevant to the user, as long as it is accessible when it is needed.
Video Longer to Gain Acceptance
Since video is now moving into the IP universe, and able to be sent across the network, it is also a good candidate for hosting, right? Some have thought so, but there are some obstacles that need to be overcome before it begins to gain widespread acceptance.
The biggest impediment to hosting video systems remotely is the same hurdle we’ve seen in getting it onto the network in the first place: bandwidth.
Access control databases were pretty easy to host offsite. They would only send small data updates that could easily be less than a megabyte in size, and only when changes were warranted. Video, as we’ve all seen, can be multiple megabytes and constant streaming, 24/7 with no break. While the provider might have the bandwidth available at their facility, the customer was usually dealing with a DSL, cable modem or, at the most, a T-1 connection, making large transfers of video a difficult proposition at best.
There have been some successful applications of hosted video storage technology, for sure. For small applications, requiring not more than CIF or at the most 2CIF resolution and a minimal image rate, remote hosting can be a reality. And for the smart integrator, getting a piece of the recurring revenue can be a profitable reality.
The Case Against Hosting
Not every application is a good one for remote hosting. As mentioned above, small installations with not too stringent video quality requirements are suitable, but anything where full quality, full motion video is needed would not be practical or even possible over normal WAN network connections.
Another concern that needs to be addressed is the security of the information itself. Not every customer is comfortable with their video data being sent over the public Internet and stored at an outside company’s facility. To some, it defeats the purpose of having security in the first place. Generally, hosting providers do put systems in place to protect company data, so quite often, the concerns are just a matter of perception, but they can also be valid.
Another concern I’ve seen expressed is with the longevity of the hosting company. The dot-com bubble burst and rampant consolidation in the technology sector create doubts in customers’ minds about whether that online hosting company is going to be around in a couple of years. This also is a valid concern, but one that can be addressed with good research on the part of the integrator.
Benefits Go Beyond the Customer
There are many plusses for the integrator willing to step into hosted services. Hosting providers are generally experts at what they do. They understand concepts like redundancy, data center cooling and environments, power supply and conditioning. Some of the larger server farms are equipped to survive major catastrophes. The security integrator will likely not understand these things enough to provide this high level of protection.
Recurring income can be derived from these services. IP integrators have for a while now understood the benefits of service contracts and maintenance agreements. The remote hosting fees can be a part of that service contract, and passed on to the customer, resulting in a win for all involved. The customer gets protection of their data, and the integrator and provider get revenue that might have ordinarily been left on the table.
MCSE- and CCNA-certified Steve Payne has 15 years of industry experience, presently serving as Western Regional Sales Manager for Connections IT. He can be reached at [email protected]
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