Insights Into Optimizing Video Data Storage

A video storage subject matter expert explains the critical need for deploying the right hard drives to meet the rigors of recording surveillance video.

The massive increase in the volume of video surveillance data being created and stored annually is staggering. Depending on the surveillance platform, storage can enhance a solution’s capabilities or it can constrain them. Jessica Burton, who serves as surveillance product manager for Seagate, joins the conversation to discuss particulars of video data storage and related topics.

How are hard drives optimized for the demands of video surveillance applications?

A surveillance system is only as strong as its weakest link. In today’s video surveillance systems, drives are just as critical as cameras for quality video footage. Because desktop drives are not designed to support the heavy 24/7 workload of multiple camera streams, they often fail and any data loss or corruption can be detrimental. Not only are desktop drives less reliable in surveillance environments, they also lack sufficient performance specs to support multiple cameras.

Desktop drives are built to read and write small-block and random data transfers, not to exceed 55 terabytes in a year. They are not designed to support a high camera count and nor support around-the-clock streaming, writing of large sequential blocks and high-definition video. Also, they don’t have rotational vibration tolerance or RAID capabilities to be used in multidrive systems. They do not have power management and are not designed to handle heat.

On the other hand, surveillance-optimized drives like Seagate’s SkyHawk are always on and are tuned to record video surveillance up to 90% of the time, dedicating the other 10% to data playback and review. These drives support a workload rating of up to 300 terabytes in a year for 3.5-inch drives, and support smooth video streaming from multiple camera inputs with zero dropped frames and AI data integrity. They allow reliable performance in multidrive systems with rotational vibration tolerance and multibay support incorporate advanced power management capabilities

Surveillance-optimized drives are an optimal setup for video surveillance systems that require multiple video recording streams, high-quality video and reliable storage.

What are the leading market drivers for increased storage and what type of appliances are expected to be most in demand?

Analytics on video surveillance hardware is forecast to more than quadruple in five years from 27.6 million shipments in 2016 to 126 million in 2021, according to IHS, as increasing numbers of hardware manufacturers include analytics sensors on NVRs.

In today’s diverse threat landscape, there are all sorts of great applications for AI, from analyzing crowds to people counting, identifying irregularities or suspicious behavior based on past experience and analyzing inputs from different sensors.

Intelligent AI-enabled NVRs can be engineered to identify people, faces, cars, buses, color and time, among other factors, delivering increased threat recognition accuracy and efficiency. Deep learning and machine learning features also continually train and improve, detecting and analyzing objects in both live stream and uploaded video data. They can automatically tag objects that are of interest or concern to decrease the time spent searching through playbacks too.

SeagateBeyond threat detection, AI-enabled surveillance has a number of unique commercial, municipal and governance applications that are proliferating across industries. One example would be retail to better understand customer behavior and improve shopping experiences; for example, reducing checkout queues and improving store layout and product placement. Also, cities can analyze traffic patterns and divert traffic away from accidents and bottlenecks; enhance the efficiency of roads, water and power distribution and reduce pollution. In the banking/finance market, suspicious or unusual account or employee activity can be spotted in a timely way, ensuring compliance and mitigating risk.

Given the increasing sophistication and breadth of video surveillance applications, how important is dealer training where storage is concerned?

The biggest challenge for dealers is recognizing what flavor of drive best matches their customer’s environment. This is especially important as not only surveillance applications but also storage is becoming more sophisticated with new products like SkyHawk AI.

Seagate recently launched our Seagate Insider partner program for all storage resellers, system builders, direct marketers, retailers and OEMs who purchase Seagate storage products or feature Seagate products in their solutions. Members have the chance to participate in trainings and promotions to earn points that can be redeemed for cash, product and other opportunities.

In what key ways does the application of video analytics affect the type of storage used for a surveillance solution?

The accuracy and success of any video surveillance AI system hinges on high resolution, sharp video footage with no dropped frames. The AI engine of any surveillance system is only as strong as the data it ingests to learn from and deliver valuable AI knowledge. For these reasons, storage must be able to capture both video footage and AI knowledge simultaneously with high data and video integrity- requiring a higher performance and more robust drive than even standard surveillances.

Skyhawk AI is the first drive of its kind. Custom engineered to meet the unprecedented workload performance and reliability requirements of AI-enabled NVR surveillance environments.

What is Seagate’s overall value proposition to installing security dealers and systems integrators?

Installers and security dealers face less reliability and support cases when they use the right drive for the right application. Hard drives are not all designed the same and have vastly different performance and reliability specs. This is especially true for video surveillance environments which require more robust, higher performance drives than most applications.

SkyHawk AI delivers surveillance AI-optimized storage for surveillance professionals, NVR manufacturers, security system integrators and installers looking to deliver the new breed of NVR with AI and analytic intensive capabilities, alongside high-performing and reliable video capture and replay.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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