Security in the Cloud with Diamonds
In November Genetec announced that the company enters into a strategic alliance with Microsoft to develop cloud-based security solutions together. The plan is to offer hosted security solutions that include video surveillance, access control and license plate recognition (LPR) as a service built on Microsoft‘s Windows Azure cloud-computing platform. While Genetec is developing video and security applications for years with the goal to make them more accessible and meaningful for companies, Windows Azure is known as an open and flexible cloud platform that enables to quickly build, install and manage applications across a global network. Based on Microsoft-managed datacenters Azure is using existing IT environment.
GIT-SECURITY.com: Genetec is well-known in the market for high security installations on a corporate level. Is the new service part of a strategy to expand your business beyond large scale projects or is it a more technology-driven step into the future?
Pierre Racz: Genetec's cloud offering is meant to complement our existing product offerings and designed with two uses in mind: The first oni is providing a flexible, hassle-free solution to our existing large-scale customers to expand their systems into areas where they do not want to install more IT infrastructure. Our goal is to deliver compelling, cost effective features and capabilities that will enable our enterprise customers to quickly extend installations to remote/satellite locations, and to take advantage of highly-elastic, secure off-site storage and compute platforms hosted on Windows Azure datacenters. The second use is bringing industry-leading security systems and technology to a broader user base that would not typically need or use a larger enterprise security system. Genetec's cloud offering will take our over 15 years of industry expertise, and bring this expertise to the small and medium sized businesses. We recognize a strong need for affordable and intelligent cloud-based security that is flexible, easy to expand, and available from almost any computer or device anywhere in the world.
It is a radical change to go away from server based software to cloud-based solutions especially in an industry that is known to be very conservative. Do you expect companies to quickly adopt to cloud-based technology?
Pierre Racz: The cloud has been one of the most talked about IT topics of recent years, however security data in the cloud poses several challenges that are non-trivial. In terms of functionally, how do we handle bandwidth and storage? Legally, how do we manage data security, confidentiality and chain of custody? And from a business perspective, how do we ensure our cloud clients are not just getting a diluted version of traditional on-premise software? Genetec has carefully considered all of these facets to ensure that we deliver solutions that can meet market needs. Our cloud initiative is being undertaken because we see a compelling need in the market that we are uniquely positioned to address. We see demand from: Our largest customers, who can directly benefit from the flexibility, scalability and ease of integration that a hosted solution can provide to help extend their on-premises system; Smaller customer sites requiring fewer cameras and door counts who are currently underserved by existing cloud and on-premise solutions that are either too costly, lacking in features, or are difficult to deploy and complicated to use. We see customers who are interested in taking all of the things that has traditionally made Genetec a leader in enterprise on-premises security software (intuitive UI, scalability, data management) and providing that functionality to them a highly accessible cloud solution.
There are already video hosting services on the market. What is the difference between your concept and a standard Video-as-a-Service model?
Pierre Racz: The Genetec solution is unique in that it is a true hosted system in the cloud rather than a managed service that typically leverages the internet to facilitate viewing of a remote system, such as a digital network recorder (DVR), or network video recorder (NVR). The benefit of a true hosted system, such as what Genetec is bringing to market, is that the data is stored and highly secure in a distributed network of datacenters (making access to the data much faster) and can allow users of the system to access and manipulate their data from virtually anywhere in the world. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve economies of scale similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services. Further, Genetec is taking all the things that have traditionally made the company a leader in enterprise on-premises security software, namely our friendly UI, feature set, and data management functions, and putting them in the cloud in a powerful, intelligent and affordable package. We strongly believe that bringing this level of functionality in a true hosted solution will be of interest to the industry.
For bigger companies it is an obvious advantage that remote or satellite locations can be easily networked together. What is the advantage for small and medium size companies?
Pierre Racz: Small and medium sized users do not have the need or desire to manage the computing infrastructure associated with traditional on-premise security systems. These users typically require affordable and easy to use security solutions that allow them to access their security data quickly using any computer or device anywhere in the world. Genetec's cloud offering will help our small to medium size users to better manage their security systems and leverage their security data so that they can run their businesses better and more securely. This will be offered in an accessible solution at a very competitive price point.
Already with IP networks there were concerns about networks being hacked by someone. How secure really is a cloud-based security service?
Pierre Racz: Data security is one of the biggest areas of concern for companies that are considering whether or not to move to cloud computing. When it comes to the physical security industry, the stakes are even higher because you are often dealing with the safety of people and possessions. We understand the crucial importance of keeping our customers‘ data secure and this is precisely the reason why we decided to build our cloud-based solutions on the Microsoft Azure platform. Microsoft has designed the Azure platform with security in mind, building in a number of different security features and mechanisms in every layer of the cloud infrastructure to implement a defense-in-depth approach. Windows Azure runs in data centers managed and operated by Microsoft Global Foundation Services (GFS). These geographically dispersed data centers are managed, monitored, and administered by Microsoft operations staff that have years of experience in delivering the world's largest online services with 24 x 7 continuity. They comply with industry standards, such as ISO/IEC 27001:2005, for security and reliability. In addition to data center, network, and personnel security practices, Windows Azure incorporates security practices at the application and platform layers to enhance security for application developers and service administrators.
How does the new business model work for installers and integrators?
Pierre Racz: Genetec's business model has been and will continue to be based on our robust and talented integrator channels. There is a strong role to be played by Genetec's integrator channel in terms of installation expertise, security know-how, and the ability to recommend the most appropriate product for their end users. Genetec is highly selective when it comes to our on-premises channels, and we will apply the same approach to selection of integrators that will sell and install our cloud-based services.