‘Vortex in my Cortex!’… James Wickes on ‘Security and the Cloud’

The security sector is only just waking up to the idea that many features offered by the cloud extend the capabilities of existing security solutions into new and lucrative markets. So what’s on offer? James Wickes has all the answers.

It’s nigh on two months since the last IFSEC International attendee left the airy corridors of the ExCeL Exhibition and Conference Centre. Show organiser UBM has hailed the event a massive success by every measurement and the security world is now retiring on the beach for its summer holidays.

During the show I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to air a short presentation to IFSEC International’s visitors on the condition that I limited my spiel to the general benefits of cloud technology and didn’t recite a Cloudview propaganda speech. Asking a salesman not to sell? That was the first challenge to be confronted.

The second challenge was somewhat unexpected. When I arrived at the hallowed halls early on the appointed day, I broke into a cold sweat. Every ‘What if?’ scenario I could dream up entered my head, and everything I had meticulously planned to orate for my compliant and grateful audience disappeared into the dark and inaccessible vortex in my cortex that no amount of rolled-up newspaper punching or controlled yoga-style breathing was going to unlock.

Once on the podium, some of my ‘What ifs’ sprang to life. There was the inevitable bloke having a chat on his mobile phone, the microphone didn’t work all of the time and, of course, there was the guy that just wanted to give me a good verbal bashing as I was wrong and he was right.

Too much to try and say

Anyway, I crashed through my Powerpoint deck like someone running across a collapsing bridge, repeating word for word what was on each slide, rendering the whole reason for actually being there in person somewhat pointless. In my 30 years in the IT Industry I’ve had plenty of experience of giving presentations on all sorts of subjects to all sorts of audiences all over the world – so why did I freak out at IFSEC International 2014?

James Wickes: director of Cloudview

James Wickes: director of Cloudview

Put simply, there was just too much to try and say. The PC, Internet and smartphones have enabled mainframe computing resources to be made available to all and sundry and its latest costume is known as ‘the cloud. Yes, it’s powerful. Yes, it’s accessible. Yes, it’s scalable… but it’s certainly not new.

Far from disrupting the security and CCTV world, cloud services are only now just about beginning to make any kind of dent in it. That’s because the security industry is only just waking up to the idea that many features offered by the cloud extend the capabilities of existing security solutions into new and lucrative markets that exist, unclaimed somewhere between itself and the IT industry. And that these can be accessed by using packaged cloud services bolted onto current hardware and software offerings.

These markets are facilitated as much by legislation as they are by technology. Health and Safety and the litigious/insurance culture we’ve all experienced in some way that demand ever larger amounts of CCTV data are securely stored for long periods of time for future reference, and ideally off-site.

Of course, the best way of doing this is through integration with an effective cloud service. For the end user there are many, many features offered by Cloudview (I’m sorry, I’ve said it now) and other cloud service providers that can augment CCTV solutions without compromising security and don’t actually require a degree in astrophysics to implement.

Channels to market

Then there’s the somewhat knotty issue of ‘channels to market’ early VSaaS (Video Surveillance as a Service) providers built their business models around in selling direct. This is fine for Hamstercam.com-type offerings but, for anything more serious, channel partners are essential not just to instigate sales and do the installation work but to specify the correct hardware solutions for the plethora of vertical markets that all require different ways of doing things.

All in all, in my humble opinion the UK security and CCTV industry is on the edge of a vast collective opportunity that can be facilitated by adding cloud services to existing and new customer solutions. It’s happening now and it’s picking up speed. So it’s worth taking a look at what’s available, what’s feasible and how it can be wrapped into existing end user offerings.

Next year, when you’re cutting a stride past Costa early in the morning on your way into IFSEC International and you see in the corner of your eye someone gently rocking back and forth, muttering to themselves and punching a copy of one of that day’s national newspapers please don’t call security. It’ll just be me getting ready for my presentation.

James Wickes is director of Cloudview (UK)

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