TCO Implications: Finding hidden costs in your camera system

Whether choosing cloud cameras, cloud NVR, or an AI Camera System, understanding total cost of ownership (TCO) and what possible costs are involved is critical in making the right short term and long term decision.

Cameras

Depending on the type of camera system you choose, cameras may or may not be included. Some vendors will require you to purchase proprietary cameras at higher costs. Other vendors like those who offer an AI Camera System are generally vendor agnostic, meaning you can use almost any IP camera using RTSP/ONVIF protocols.

TCO implications: Immediate and future camera replacements baked into the choice of system

Local storage

Your camera system can have varying degrees of TCO depending on local storage. Cloud cameras, for example, use more expensive on-board flash memory storage. At higher camera counts, TCO will surpass a cloud NVR-based solution.

Cloud NVRs have local storage on HDDs, which is more cost effective. At higher camera counts, this is more likely to be cost effective than cloud cameras.

AI Camera Systems provides local storage on HDDs and is cost effective. AI Camera Systems are likely to be more cost-effective at higher camera counts.

TCO implications: Relative costs of storage, especially at higher camera counts

Software

Cloud cameras and AI Camera Systems provide easy-to-use software with little or no training required. Cloud NVRs are different than Cloud cameras or AI Camera Systems because they can have unintuitive user interfaces that can require additional training and ongoing support from IT teams.

TCO implications: Resources required for end-user adoption. Products that are difficult to use are likely to require initial and ongoing IT support.

AI capabilities

Cloud cameras and Cloud NVRs will have some limited AI capabilities, and not all of them will be out of the box. Some of the AI capabilities for cloud cameras and cloud NVRs include:

  • Motion detection
  • People detection
  • Vehicle detection

AI Camera Systems provide robust AI capabilities out of the box. Hybrid AI enables features to be more powerful, more useful, and more response.

Some of the AI capabilities for an AI Camera System include:

  • Motion detection
  • People detection
  • Vehicle detection
  • Facial recognition
  • License plate recognition
  • AI assistants

TCO implications: Cost of ongoing upgrades to keep up with the latest and greatest in AI over the life of the system.

Network and bandwidth

Customers using cloud cameras may need to upgrade their network infrastructure to support video consumption requirements if they are in limited bandwidth areas.

Cloud NVRs may not need to upgrade network infrastructure to support video as long as an organization isn’t looking to use robust AI capabilities like AI assistants.

With an AI Camera System, customers in limited bandwidth areas may not need to upgrade network infrastructure to support video consumption requirements even for advanced AI use cases.

TCO implications: Network/SD-WAN upgrades required to deliver desired user experience and functionality.

Installation

Cloud cameras will require all cameras to replaced. One they are replaced, setup is generally easy. With Cloud NVRs, cameras may not need to be replaced but NVR installation will require access to the local network.

AI Camera Systems do not require camera replacements. Intelligent Video Recorder (IVR) will require access to the local network.

TCO implications: Total cost of setup including installation of cameras, setup, and configuration of equipment

Post-sales support and warranty

Defects can arise in the best of products, and cloud cameras may stop working over the life of the contract. Some vendors offer 10-year warranties on cameras.

Cloud NVR vendors usually offer a warranty for the life of the contract. Some vendors don’t charge separately for ongoing support.

AI Camera System vendors usually offer warranty for the life of the contract. Some vendors don’t charge separately for ongoing support.

TCO implications: Warranty on hardware. Additional cost of support based on vendor/VAR agreement.

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