The surveillance industry has marked significant evolution with the emergence of artificial intelligence, machine learning and edge computing. Smart video,driven by these technologies, is increasingly being deployed across industries. In an interaction with CRN India, Brian Mallari, Director, Marketing – Smart Video, Western Digital and Jaganathan Chelliah, Director, Marketing, Western Digital India, elaborate on the market trends and how Western Digital has innovated its offerings to complement the customer needs
Please highlight some of the current trends prevailing in the surveillance industry
Brian: The need for surveillance continues to grow in all parts of the world. More cameras are being deployed, mainly because cameras can capture rich video, from which a lot of insights can be extracted. A simple surveillance camera is being used for greater purposes today than in years past. We continue to see more cameras that support higher resolution video such as 4K and cameras that send multiple streams versus just one, so that both high resolution streams and lower resolution sub-streams can be used for different purposes. Advanced functionality, such as AI – for example, face and object recognition, not just detection – is also becoming more popular. More effective AI requires higher resolution and higher frame rates, which deliver more detailed video for more effective deep learning. Greater use of AI also drives the evolution of the camera and recorder, increasing the compute and storage power to support the advanced functionality.
How have storage solutions available in the market evolved to meet the changing needs of the surveillance industry?
Brian: Growing workload from cameras – whether from higher bit rates from 4K and higher frame rates, or multiple video streams from each camera, or additional workload induced by AI functionality – requires storage providers to continuously innovate to ensure the storage solutions are able to handle not only existing surveillance solutions, but also the advanced solutions that are starting to hit the market today. Video is a rich media, and higher quality video requires more storage, driving the need for higher capacity storage for both cameras and recorders. In addition, effective AI requires faster and more effective deep learning, which drives higher capacity and higher performance requirements for storage infrastructure, whether on the back-end servers today, or inside the advanced cameras and recorders that are starting to emerge.
What does the concept of smart video entail? How has it created demand for storage solutions that support the performance requirements of 4K video, 24×7 operation, and movement of video for smart insights?
Brian: Smart video is really about analysing video to extract valuable insights, and then using those insights to improve people’s lives. The goal is to do this efficiently and effectively – essentially in real time. AI is utilised to turn a camera into an extension of the human eye; a camera can be “trained” to see something much faster and more reliably than a human. The goal of smart video isn’t only to do things faster, but to do things better too. This is why smart video can be deployed in factories to perform reliable quality control, or in a football stadium to identify unattended packages or find a particular individual in a crowd of hundreds. High resolution video such as 4K and edge processing make for smarter cameras and smarter surveillance systems that can analyse video data without sending everything to the cloud for analysis, and real-time AI response requires fast storage and deep learning capabilities require larger data sets and more storage capacity, which impacts all storage, from cameras to the cloud. Now more than ever, smart video requires more advanced purpose-built storage technology.
In the smart video space, what kind of uptake do you see from the Indian customers?
Jaganathan: The importance of smart video solutions has increased in the post lockdown scenario, and we are witnessing the integration of a global trend in the smart video space in India too. People, in addition to the regular requirement of a community, policing, security among residential and home consumers, and that of ensuring a safe and secure workplace in the enterprises. Today, we observe a clear need to track physical distancing and smart video solutions. It is the best tool that will help us identify how people are managing and behaving at public locations and workplaces.
Today, we have a constant need to identify people with high body temperature. The available technology integrated into cameras for thermal screening allows us to monitor and identify people who have a slightly elevated temperature and could be potential virus carriers at both public locations as well as at workplaces. The screening can help them address health-related issues and track people who could help contain the spread of the disease.
The smart video solution’s underlying technology calls for artificial intelligence at both sensors in camera level and the back-end infrastructure for analytics. The common thread between both places is data, which needs to be captured and stored at the camera and back-end for analysis. Data plays a significant role in the smart video solution space and needs to be stored for analysis. The absence of proper data storage makes AI-powered smart video solution space very limited in its scope.
What are initiatives are being taken to create awareness and educate more and more customers on smart video?
Jaganathan: We are witnessing a clear drive towards smart video integration for better governance and community management. The evolution of technology in this domain has facilitated the use in multiple scenarios, and there is a natural momentum that is creating awareness and educating customers. The use of smart video solutions for post crime analysis, better traffic management, and improved productivity at an enterprise, increasing revenue in retail environments are some reasons for building natural momentum.
Western Digital is aligned with both industry players as well as influencers. We engage with influencers who determine the adoption of smart video solutions for large projects and provide relevant case studies and proof of concepts to enterprises who are consuming these technologies. We have a smart video adoption initiative to educate end customers on the right smart video solution for their business or personal use. The initiative educates and aware customers on different use cases of smart video, the potential of AI-enabled smart videos, and the role of data storage.
How WDC’s broad portfolio of storage solutions enables smart video surveillance? Please throw some light on the advanced capabilities of your offerings
Brian: Today’s security solutions do analytics and deep learning in servers or in the cloud, which requires high performance and high capacity storage. As intelligence moves towards the edge and endpoints, this requires faster and larger storage on the recorder and in the camera itself. Western Digital’s full line of smart video storage – from microSD cards and embedded flash drives for cameras, to WD Purple HDDs for the recorders, to enterprise-class HDDs and SSDs for the cloud – enables the promise of smart video, not only for surveillance, but for improvements in healthcare, factory automation, and safety and well-being of pedestrians and drivers in cities. Our camera storage solutions feature high endurance and health monitoring for long-term operation in inaccessible cameras, and our WD Purple hard drives feature AllFrame technology, which helps reduce frame loss and improve overall video playback. All of the storage devices in our smart video portfolio are designed for continuous, 24/7 use and have higher-than-normal workload or endurance capability to handle the rigorous demands of video recording while helping to ensure the utmost reliability for stored video.
How do these storage solutions enable increasingly complex and advanced video and AI technologies with speed, capacity, and endurance?
Brian: Effective AI must be both efficient and effective. This requires both speed and visual detail. Storage solutions must be able to respond quickly and have the capacity to store the needed detail. In addition, cameras are installed in inaccessible locations, requiring storage that will have predictable longevity, which is what high endurance brings. One of the key features of WD purple storage devices beyond the high endurance or workload is the health monitoring feature. With this feature, edge devices can track the health of their storage and alert service personnel or technicians.
In addition, WD Purple HDDs support Western Digital Device Analytics, or WDDA – a proactive storage management features that continuously monitors key operational parameters of installed WD Purple HDDs and provides recommended actions should any of those parameters exceed certain thresholds. Quick action by a system operator can ensure long term reliable operation, reduce down time, and reduce servicing costs.
Is the Indian market mature enough to adopt these solutions? If yes, highlight some of the use cases where customers have leveraged WDC’s solutions and benefitted?
Jaganathan: Yes, India is close to global trends in terms of adopting smart video technology. All large infrastructure projects today have smart video solutions as a part of their overall implementation. The Smart Cities initiative by the government is one of the most prominent examples. We are observing customers doing large scale implementation of over 1000 camera in the same or different locations being analysed from a single command centre relying on storage at the core of the camera and back-end server.
The reason for on-camera storage is if, in case of any drop-in network or power failure, it doesn’t stop recording. Instead, storage inside the camera allows it to record whatever that is not being transmitted so that once the network is re-established, then it is sent to the back-end server. This ensures that there is no gap in recording events happening on a real-time basis. In case of fire or another untoward incident that could occur anytime, the on-camera storage allows the opportunity to pinpoint the source of the problem, with the help of an on-premise embedded WD Purple microSD card or WD purple HDD. These purpose-built solutions offer high quality and long-lasting storage for workloads that consumer microSD cards and desktop-grade hard drives are not specifically designed for.
We are soon launching WD Purple SC QD101 Ultra Endurance microSD card and WD Purple 14TB HDD are designed for high-endurance, high-capacity, robust, on-camera storage to deliver reliable performance in mainstream security video system that operates 24/7.
How are you leveraging your channel ecosystem to address the burgeoning customer requirements? What are the efforts being put toward channel enablement?
Brian: Our channel partners are key to our business and the success of smart video. They architect, develop and deploy these advanced solutions in vertical markets that are thriving with more intelligent video solutions, which ultimately improve people’s lives. We work closely with channel partners to ensure we have the necessary feedback to evolve and improve our smart video storage portfolio, as well as ensure our channel partners have the marketing assets and training needed to be trusted advisors to their customers.
How significant has been the role of your channel partners in creating more and more demand for your surveillance storage products?
Jaganathan: We are a channel-led organisation, and channel partners are a strategic asset for us. We have equipped our channel partners with the right information, products, and tools to reach out to potential customers. Channel partners have expanded the smart video market across categories like banking, smart cities, retail outlets, etc. Channel partners are crucial for our success, and they are a natural extension of our business.
We run consistent and robust partner programs to armor our partners for the changing consumer needs, market dynamics, and educating them on our products and solutions.
How are you further looking to leverage their expertise in taking these products deeper into the Indian market? Any specific GTM strategy being devised for this?
Jaganathan: Western Digital endeavor is to make sure that we have the right go to market model for our partners to fulfill the demand that is created for WD based smart video solutions. We have built a secure connection with our partner community and have more than 3500 partners enrolled under myWD Surveillance Partner programme. The programme trains them to provide the best solutions depending on customer needs. They also get the right kind of sales tools to engage and educate customers. The sales tools are regularly upgraded with the integration of the latest use cases and emerging technologies being tracked on a global basis.
We also have an app called WD Purple storage solution calculator. The app estimates the storage requirement basis frames per second in video, resolution, duration of recording, etc determining the type of storage and the capacity required. The app helps channel partners to ensure that the customer is getting the right product basis the requirements.