Cutting Costs with Hybrid Cloud VMS: The Success Story of the City of Fishers

November 10, 2023

As one of the fastest-growing cities in Indiana with a population of more than 100,000, the City of Fishers was struggling with rapidly increasing video data storage needs for its video security system. Milestone Systems and cloud technology partners provided Fishers with a cost-effective and scalable hybrid cloud solution that not only saves on in-house hardware and related maintenance costs, but also simplifies system use to align with the city’s cloud first initiative.

Challenge: Meeting Video Data Storage Requirements

With plans to have over 250 cameras installed across the city by the end of 2024, among the most pressing issues was the rapid growth of the city’s video data storage requirements. This was due to the increasing number of new camera installations as well as evolving long-term data storage requirements from local and state agencies. On-premises storage and related maintenance costs were becoming increasingly expensive. City officials also needed faster access to video data when required, as well as long-term, automated data archival plans.

Solution: Hybrid VMS Cloud Solution

Fishers officials partnered with Tiger Surveillance to integrate the city's existing open platform, Milestone Systems, XProtect® video management software (VMS), with Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services. This collaboration enabled a hybrid VMS cloud solution, combining on-premises and cloud-based storage. The result is a system that can handle the sizeable increase in video data use and storage while substantially reducing costs for the city.

Result: Cost-Effective Scalable Hybrid Cloud Storage

The new strategy immediately delivered increased system scalability with the hybrid cloud VMS system easily accommodating the anticipated increase in cameras and video uses. Compared to the in-house storage costs, the new system provides substantial cost savings by reducing annual hardware acquisition costs, and installation and maintenance expenses. And with cloud-based storage, city video data is secure via multi-regional, long-term data protection in AWS with no additional effort by staff.

A New City Vision in the Cloud

Open platform video technologies coupled with cloud services offer a compelling solution, and when cloud-first local governments like the City of Fishers integrate in-house video security infrastructure with cloud-based solutions, cost savings, and efficiencies can be significant.

Traditional on-premises solutions require organizations to bear ongoing expenses for storage hardware, maintenance, and upgrades. In contrast, cloud storage eliminates these costs, allowing businesses to pay only for the storage they need. The scalability of cloud storage enables organizations to effortlessly increase or decrease capacity as security requirements change, further optimizing costs.

"The reality of what I call chasing the retail market for storage is not tenable, and you're still putting all your eggs in one basket. We needed to get out of the hardware buying game,” said Tracy Gaynor, Director of Information Technology, City of Fishers, Indiana. “The hybrid approach allows us to meet the organization's needs without breaking the budget."

The new hybrid video solution is used to manage video data from fixed-position cameras located both inside and outside city buildings. This new system oversees general surveillance video, while the city's license plate recognition system and devices used specifically for criminal justice purposes (such as police body cams, in-car cameras, and interview room recordings) continue to be managed by their own proprietary networks.

Video in the Cloud

The AWS cloud computing platform provides various services, such as video storage, for enterprise-level organizations to use instead of owning physical servers. The tiered AWS video data storage system is a cost-effective way to store and manage video data, with each tier providing different levels of performance and durability.

The tiered AWS video data storage system can be customized for the end-user's needs by adjusting the amount of data stored in each tier. For example, if the end-user needs to access the data frequently, they can store it in a general-purpose tier. If the end user needs the video data less often, they can store it in in an infrequent access tier. And if the end-user rarely accesses the data, they can keep it in an archive tier.

"A couple of years ago, with our on-premises solution, we got to the point where we needed to budget roughly $100,000 a year for hardware and storage expansion and all the other related annual costs involved in maintaining and growing our storage systems," said Gaynor. “Now that we’re working with cloud storage, our monthly bill from AWS is less than 10% the annualized cost for a storage unit.”

Additionally, with the implementation of the hybrid-cloud storage system, the city's annual operating budget became predictable, and there was no need for sudden large-scale investments. "And if it increases a little bit each year, it’s tenable, and predictable," said Gaynor.

Bridging Video Innovation

City of Fishers officials utilized Tiger Surveillance Bridge to integrate the city’s existing open platform, Milestone Systems’ XProtect VMS, with AWS cloud services. This enabled the city to efficiently store large amounts of video data in the cloud while leveraging the cost savings for all the city’s AWS cloud services. The solution has proven scalable, cost-effective, and robust. It has improved the city's video system capabilities and reduced costs, enabling the city to concentrate on maintaining the safety and security of the community.

The integration involved the application of the Tiger Surveillance Bridge software platform plug-in within the Milestone VMS, allowing for seamless integration with AWS and creating a fluid connection between the on-premises surveillance system and the cloud storage. This integration allows the city to maintain 10 days of recorded video on-site before moving the data to AWS for archiving. The implementation of a tiered data storage plan ensures that the city has real-time video access while facilitating long-term archival storage in AWS.

"With Milestone's XProtect video management software and its seamless integration with Tiger Surveillance Bridge, we've been able to dramatically decrease our capital expense and move toward a predictable operating model. This is the innovation and cost-effectiveness that's crucial in today's climate,” said Sean Totten, Chief Security Officer, City of Fishers. "The Tiger Surveillance Bridge software enables auto-tiering in AWS, and we simply determine our cutoff point, and anything past this age goes to archive. This significantly decreases capital expenses and allows us to grow and only pay for what we need."

Tiger Surveillance Bridge is a software-only solution that extends the storage capacity of Milestone XProtect VMS systems to the cloud. The bridge is an NTFS/ReFS file system filter driver that installs in minutes and automatically starts replicating files to the cloud, then intelligently manages the placement of this data, moving it to the cloud storage provider as needed.

Tiger Surveillance Bridge is a native MIP plug-in for Milestone XProtect. This means that it can be installed and configured quickly and easily without the need for any additional hardware or software. By extending the storage capacity of Milestone XProtect VMS systems to the cloud, Tiger Surveillance Bridge can help organizations save money, improve disaster recovery, and increase security.

Open platform video management systems allow for system integration with a variety of hardware and software, providing flexibility, scalability, and customization for users. In contrast to closed systems — which limit the range of compatible devices and applications — open platform systems are designed to integrate with a nearly unlimited ecosystem of cameras, servers, and software, allowing users to customize and scale their video system according to their unique needs. Open platforms make it easy to add new devices or features as needed without being tied to one specific vendor.

The Milestone XProtect open platform video management system currently supports over 12,000 different security devices from more than 700 of the industry's leading manufacturers. Technology partners include providers of network video cameras, NVRs, cloud technologies, access control, alarm and detection systems, video analytics, smart sensor technologies, GPS systems, emergency call boxes, and much more.

Supporting Cloud First Initiatives

In the digital age, investing in data-driven video technology and cloud solutions is not just a strategic choice but a necessity for growing cities. By embracing these advanced technologies, cities can unlock the full potential of their video data, enhance their security measures, and achieve city-wide savings that go beyond security. The successful transition of the City of Fishers to a hybrid cloud VMS system is a demonstration of the city's innovative approach to problem solving.

"Milestone Systems and its partnerships with Tiger Surveillance Bridge and AWS have been revolutionary for us,” said Gaynor. “Together, they've enabled us to deploy a scalable and cost-effective solution for our growing video needs. It's this kind of innovative thinking and technology we need to ensure the safety and security of our city without breaking the budget."

About Milestone XProtect

Milestone Systems is a leading provider of open-platform video management software; technology that helps the world see how to ensure safety, protect assets and increase business efficiency. Milestone enables an open platform community that drives collaboration and innovation in the development and use of network video technology, with reliable and scalable solutions that are proven in more than 500,000 customer sites worldwide. Founded in 1998, Milestone is a stand-alone company in the Canon Group. Visit www.milestonesys.com.

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