More and more, businesses of all sizes are opting for Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS). It can put state-of-the-art video surveillance technology within reach of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by reducing the upfront investment and allowing them to pay for the service as an operating expense. Large corporations with multiple divisions can maximize the value VSaaS has across their organizations, leveraging it in applications such as time and attendance or eliminating the need for a dedicated attendant at every entry point. Additionally, all customers appreciate the ease of use that VSaaS provides and convenient access to the system via web or mobile app.
Mike King, Manager, Hosted Video at Axis Communications, says before you choose a VSaaS solution, however, you need to ask some questions that will help you determine if it’s the right fit for your clients — and for your business. Start by finding answers to these five questions:
1. Is it a true cloud solution?
Some VSaaS solutions require on-site appliances; others are designed for video and data processing to take place within the cameras themselves. The type of solution you choose can dramatically impact total cost of ownership, especially when you factor in ongoing service for on-site appliances. Make sure you look at total costs, not just the initial purchase prices.
2. Who maintains the solution?
King says a VSaaS solution will require ongoing maintenance and services such as firmware updates, cybersecurity patches, and system health monitoring that alerts you if a device is offline. Determine whether this is your responsibility or the vendor’s, and how it will impact your operation.
3. What is the vendor’s reputation for support?
If the vendor provides service, King stresses that you need to know how reliable they are. Talk to other integrators or MSPs who partner with the vendor to get a clear picture of what you can expect.
4. Which devices are supported?
It’s vital to understand whether your customer’s choice of camera will be limited to only certain types supported by the solution and whether they will have the functionality and image resolution they need. You should also investigate whether your client can use cameras now in service or they’ll have to invest in new devices.
5. Who is watching from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.?
You should also research other services and capabilities that integrate with the VSaaS solution, such as alarm monitoring that can keep watch with the service at any hour of the day or night. King points out this is a feature that end users often request.
Questions You Need to Ask Yourself About Your Business
King says in addition to evaluating VSaaS solutions and their vendors, you also need to add some questions to your list about your team’s skills and readiness to provide Video Surveillance as a Service. The answers to these two questions are pivotal in deciding whether your team is equipped and ready to support a successful transition to providing video surveillance under this model:
6. Is your technical staff trained to implement VSaaS?
King says training is important for technicians implementing any type of IT solution, but techs new to providing VSaaS can make some common mistakes, such as miscalculating bandwidth. “When you put video on a network, it takes quite a bit of available bandwidth. In a lot of cases it makes sense to have a separate network for video to ensure a steady flow of data and prevent bottlenecks,” King says.
He points out that your VSaaS vendor partner can provide the training and tools your team needs. For example, Axis’ onboarding process includes training, and, with tools like the bitrate calculator in the AXIS Device Manager, your technical team can ensure the system is set up properly and has ample bandwidth.
7. Is your sales team ready to sell a Video Surveillance as a Service solution?
King says if you are a managed services provider, adding VSaaS to your portfolio may be somewhat easier for you than for an integrator whose primary business model is now based on project work. “Integrators sales teams may be used to going after those million dollar sales,” King says. “It’s not enough to just tell them they’re selling VSaaS. The transition can be difficult for sales reps.”
King says a better approach may be to build a dedicated VSaaS sales team that integrates with your project sales team. “Integrators need top-down buy-in and an understanding of what it takes to get into this space. It may take some fresh blood to build this part of your business,” King comments.
VSaaS is the Future, No Question
King points out VSaaS is the future: “Everything is moving toward as a Service.” As with other as a Service offerings, VSaaS gives your customers more options in a cost-effective, easy-to-use format, but it also provides integrators and MSPs with recurring monthly revenue that takes the guesswork out of covering expenses and that builds value in your company.
Besides, if you choose the right vendor, they do the heavy lifting when it comes to maintaining the solution, so you won’t need to dedicate substantial IT resources to your VSaaS offering. The vendor may even give you access to a test environment that allows you to try the solution and “kick the tires.”
King points out that having the foresight to prepare to meet this demand can help you provide enormous value to your customers and your employees. Don’t be left behind.