Going to install a video surveillance system or an Access Control system? You just need a Windows PC and some software, right? That’s easy enough to cost out, how hard can it be to setup? It will just run itself. Forever. With no problems. For free, as in beer … right?
The reality of hosting an onsite Video Surveillance or Access Control system is much different. First of all, who is going to setup the PC? If you’re going to access the system from off site, you’re going to need to give the PC a fixed IP address. Then you’re going to need to open a hole in the firewall on the PC, in the firewall on your router, and setup port forwarding in your router. Oh, you need a fixed IP address for your broadband service too. Got all of that? Count on a few hours of a network Engineer’s time to get this all right.
Congratulations, you are now hosting a web server from your corporate LAN, this is a Bad Idea from a network security standpoint and your IT department is unlikely to go along with it. They might setup a VPN for you (remember those? get ready for support tickets) so your users can access the system securely … as long as they can figure out the VPN. VPN is more like a man-week of a network Engineer’s time.
Or maybe they kick you out to a dedicated broadband connection, get a new cable or DSL line just for you. That way, if you get hacked (really *when* you get hacked, unless someone is doing all the SW patches immediately as every new exploit gets published) they can “only” compromise your video and access control systems. In any case, that’s $1,000/yr for a dedicated broadband, plus modem/router/etc., and setup time, up front.
You can buy an extended warranty from Dell or whomever, that will cover the cost of a new machine when this one breaks. How long can you stand to have your cameras and/or doors offline? Even when they ship you a new box, you’ll have to set it back up from scratch again. Doors not working for a few days going to be a problem?
Anyway, now that you’re up and running the Windows box will update its own OS and reboot itself as needed. That always works, right? No, it doesn’t. Plan on manually intervening when updates and reboots need attention. Your system will be down until you do. There is a new version of Windows every few years too, if you want to stay on the easiest to maintain platform.
Then there is the Video Surveillance and Access Control SW itself. Some of these vendors will have you believe you can just download the SW and set it up yourself. Have you done this before? It’s not obvious the first time you do it. I hope you weren’t’ busy this week. Alternatively, you can hire someone to set it up. Factor that cost in too.
Bottom line, a typical IT department internal charge is about $250/mo for every server on the network they have to support. That does not include the Video Surveillance or Access Control SW running on it, that will take a special support contract. Count both of these in.
Now you’re up and running! What did that cost? Let’s see:
- Server, with OS, and maintenance contract
- Video Surveillance and Access Control SW
- Network setup: fixed IP, hole in OS firewall, hole in router’s firewall, port forwarding in router. Half a man day of a network Engineer’s time. $500.
- VPN or dedicated broadband connection.
- VPN: Man week of network Engineer’s time, plus VPN software solution and ongoing support. $5,000 down, whatever your IT department wants to charge per month, or
- Dedicated broadband connection: modem, router, setup fees, plus monthly, say $1,000/yr if we’re being generous.
- Video Surveillance and Access Control SW setup and support. Your vendor might include this, otherwise assume it will take you a few man days to get it going, at least, if you have a support # to call.
- Ongoing IT support. $250/mo per server.
- Ongoing SW support. Typically 15% of the total installation cost.
Or, of course, you can go with a Cloud model. There is no Windows machine onsite. There is no broadband or networking setup required. You buy a CVR (Cloud Video Recorder) and pay for service. Done. For Access Control, you buy one CDC (Cloud Door Controller) for each door and pay for service. Also done.
All the HW is warrantied for the life of the service and unlimited support is included.
When is the last time you installed your own mail server? Gmail and Outlook365 have taken over the market for a reason. Get with the times, go with the Cloud.