Outdoor Security Platform Pushes Limits Of Storage, Compute Infrastructure
V5 Systems was founded in 2014 with a mission to provide city, college campus, and corporate security and law enforcement with cost-effective, portable surveillance systems that verify security threats and send real-time alerts. But as the company’s sales grew from tens of units per customer to literally thousands, its storage capacity was pushed to the brink.
“We were analyzing massive amounts of surveillance data and didn’t have enough physical storage or compute power to manage it all,” cofounder Steve Yung says. “We had to move it to the cloud.”
That’s when V5 Systems turned to Oracle, which, according to V5, demonstrated that its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services were able to scale more cost-effectively than comparable services from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
To understand V5 Systems’ unique infrastructure needs, you need to understand its business. Unlike conventional outdoor security equipment, the company’s devices mount almost anywhere, require no trenching or permitting, and take about 30 minutes to deploy. Because the units are small and portable, they’re easily installed in public spaces such as parks, parking lots, and building corridors.
The units look like a cable TV box, but instead of wires, cables, and electronic power supplies, they use bullet-resistant solar panels combined with a proprietary system to power a tiny micro-data center that includes an onboard computer, GPS system, batteries, and storage for about a month’s worth of captured images, video, and audio sensors.
V5 Systems’ technology also differs from standard motion sensors, which send alerts for virtually anything that moves. Using machine-learning algorithms that distinguish cracks of thunder from gunshots and stray animals from intruders, the company’s systems continually train themselves to capture only relevant video and alert official responders only when there’s an actual threat.
But storing all of that video and audio long term, and then downloading, analyzing, and sharing it, requires a tremendous amount of storage and compute power—press_releases for which Oracle’s competitors charged excessive fees, says Michael Seidler, V5 Systems vice president of global business development. “Their prices to download video were unacceptable,” he says. “Our customers need a fast and affordable way to download surveillance footage, use it to conduct forensic analysis, and then submit it as evidence.”
Those competitors also expected V5 Systems to buy bulk storage up front. “That’s challenging for us,” Seidler says. “Our storage needs are based on our customers’ storage needs, which can expand or contract quickly, making it difficult for us to forecast.”
In January of this year, V5 Systems migrated its security platform to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “Oracle makes it really easy for us to scale out or in depending on what our needs are at any given time,” Seidler says, noting that Oracle charges the company only for actual usage.
Partners in Fighting Crime
V5 Systems’ global network of distributors, which includes Intel, Dell, and Arrow Electronics, is key to the company’s growth strategy, says Nancy Bedwan, vice president of marketing.
Another key partner is Oracle, which is working with V5 Systems “to brainstorm ways to grow our brand and technical capabilities across all sorts of lifesaving scenarios,” Bedwan says. V5 Systems will be attending Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco October 22 to 25.
For example, the company is using Oracle software development kits to build mobile apps for colleges that alert students, faculty, and staff of a campus security threat and where to go for help, says Ozhen Minashy, V5 Systems’ head of product development. “Oracle allows us to push sensor data from the onboard hard drive into the cloud and then pull out data from the cloud into our mobile app without tacking on additional fees,” Minashy says. “That’s something the others didn’t offer us.” Real-time response times are critical. “Anything that slows us down needs to be put into the cloud,” Minashy says. “That’s where Oracle comes in. We can store more data, process more data, and do it all for a lot less cost.”