Specifications are passé: Just show us your system to get the optimal solution

In an exclusive chat with a&s Middle East, Anand Subbiah, Regional Director at Secure Logiq, explores the company’s pioneering approach to crafting custom hardware solutions tailored for HD surveillance, emphasizing their innovative designs and substantial impact on advancing security infrastructure within the industry.

By: Mirza Bahić

a&s Middle East: Could you share your educational and professional background that led to joining Secure Logiq and describe your current role as Regional Director within the company?

Subbiah: The original three founders of Secure Logiq were an electronic engineer, an IT specialist, and an industry veteran sales professional. Collectively, they had been involved in the electronic security industry for a cumulative 50 years, even back in 2011, and this extensive experience was probably the most important differentiator for Secure Logiq. First and foremost, we are all seasoned video experts who also possess a deep knowledge of specialist IT solutions. We don’t just understand the IT hardware we supply, but the entire electronic security infrastructure surrounding it.

Personally, I joined Secure Logiq in 2022 with 35 years of industry experience. By that stage, I had known and worked with one of the original founders for over 30 years. When he approached me and asked if I would set up the Middle East operation for them, I jumped at the chance, having observed their success in the UK and Europe over the previous 10 years. The rest is history.

a&s Middle East: What inspired Secure Logiq to specialize in developing servers specifically tailored for HD surveillance and how has this innovation impacted the industry?

Subbiah:  Before Secure Logiq, the Sales Director at the time, Robin Hughes, had been very successful in bringing a startup end-to-end HD surveillance solution to the market across EMEA. The other two founders were his customers at the time. Robin observed that this customer would buy cameras and VMS software but never the server hardware. Eventually, he asked them why and was told, “You are doing it all wrong. We make our own servers that have 16 times the throughput and 25 times the storage of your rebadged IT-centric servers, meaning we use less IT hardware to do the same job, resulting in lower CAPEX and OPEX.” They soon decided that this was a business opportunity and Secure Logiq was born.

Since then, Secure Logiq has grown organically and remains 100% employee-owned. No one else was doing it. As they grew, they realized just how powerful offering pre-and post-sales support from experts in electronic security was—a resource that was entirely missing from the CCTV industry, often filling a gap in skillsets within the electronic security industry at the time. A large part of what we do is educating the market. Our motto is, ‘Don’t come to us with a specification; come to us with your system design and we will design the optimum hardware solution for you.’

Don’t come to us with a specification; come to us with your system design and we will design the optimum hardware solution for you

a&s Middle East: Could you provide insights into the Middle East market for HD surveillance technologies? How does Secure Logiq approach this region in terms of business strategy and market adaptation?

Subbiah: As we saturated the UK market, the Middle East was the obvious next target for us. Simply put, the systems there are bigger and retention periods are significantly longer than anywhere else in the world. This ultimately means that the projects and therefore individual sales, are significantly larger. We always knew it was a different and difficult market and we have seen this as many of our competitors have withdrawn from the region in recent years. Pricing structures must be different. Success in the UK and Europe has been achieved through an education process, which we are also striving to bring to the Middle East. However, this takes time and is much harder in the region due to many projects being specification-driven and difficult to change.

Because of the exponential growth in the region, many projects have long lead times and we are often asked to specify a solution before building works have even begun. Our strategy remains the same: where we can, we educate and add value over a simple dollar-per-TB pricing structure. We knew we had to open an office here to be taken seriously and rapidly expanded to six staff in the region in our first year.

We realized that many technology partners in the region did not have a physical office, so we designed our new premises with this in mind. We have six hot desks for technology partners to use when they are visiting and they have full use of our high-tech demonstration suite. The advantage of this is that we get to meet every customer they bring in and introduce ourselves as their hardware partner of choice. So far, this strategy is working out really well and naturally builds trust with our technology partners and their customers too.

a&s Middle East: Looking forward, what innovations or developments is Secure Logiq focusing on to meet the evolving needs of the security industry, both globally and in specific regions like the Middle East?

Subbiah: Again, our specialty is understanding the leading technologies in both the electronic security and IT markets and bringing them together to create solutions never seen or proposed in our industry. Specifically, the technologies we bring to the market are the highest-performance and highest-density storage servers in the industry. However, we are a systems house and understand that our technologies, when teamed with other IT industry technologies, can offer a better overall solution. For instance, particularly in the Middle East, there is a tipping point where external storage such as SAN or NAS offers a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.

Another area of specialty for us that is beyond the comprehension of most IT-centric hardware suppliers is advanced failover models for VMS and Video Analytics solutions. We can offer High Availability and even Fault Tolerant solutions, even when our software partners said it couldn’t be done! Many customers are wary of these advanced solutions, but the main advantage of purchasing from Secure Logiq is that all solutions are prebuilt and configured in our manufacturing facility so that they are ready to install out of the box.

Of course, globally, environmental concerns are at the forefront of many purchasing decisions and this is something we take very seriously. We find that documenting the rack space, power, cooling, and carbon savings that we make over our competitors’ solutions really does make a difference.

Our strategy remains the same: where we can, we educate and add value over a simple dollar-per-TB pricing structure

a&s Middle East: What are the primary advantages of using servers optimized for HD surveillance over traditional IT-centric solutions?

Subbiah: To put it simply: we know what we’re doing, we don’t just understand the server hardware side but the entire infrastructure that is being installed. Unlike traditional IT vendors, our principle is: ‘Don’t come to us with a specification, come to us with your operational requirements and we will design the optimal solution for your application.’ An optimized solution is where we, as the experts, look at the overall system parameters and provide the most effective solution, meeting or exceeding expectations while often massively reducing the total hardware footprint. We achieve this either by utilizing more powerful, high storage density solutions or, for example, by integrating multiple applications into the same hardware.

For instance, our design team might suggest integrating the Access Control, PSIM, Analytics, and CCTV management layer into a single layer with added fault tolerance. Instead of having four separate servers running each application, each of which could fail with disastrous consequences, we supply just two servers and guarantee 99.999% uptime. We understand that most electronic security applications are mission-critical and the importance of maintaining the video archive, camera and system settings, software licensing, and many other factors that simply don’t occur in an IT-focused environment.

a&s Middle East: How does Secure Logiq address the varying global regulations on recording lengths to ensure sufficient storage capacity for HD surveillance recordings?

Subbiah: We already had the highest storage density servers in the industry, offering over 1.5 Petabytes of storage in a single 4U Direct Attached Storage (DAS) server. This capability was well-suited for most IP CCTV applications in the regions where we operated. In practice, processing overhead often became a limiting factor before the storage capacity could be fully utilized.

As we explored the potential in the Middle East, we recognized that storage retention times were significantly longer compared to other regions. Typically, CCTV footage is retained for 7 days in the EU, 30 days in the UK, and up to 180 days in the Middle East. We identified scenarios where exploring alternative storage technologies beyond DAS could offer greater efficiency in both CAPEX and OPEX for Petabyte-scale storage retention. This led us to delve into Storage Area Network (SAN) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions.

Recording retention periods are generally dictated by customer requirements and managed by the Video Management System (VMS). However, if we handle the storage calculations, they are backed by the Secure Logiq Design Guarantee. Should there be any shortfall in recording duration or processing needs, we commit to covering it at our own expense. This guarantee serves as a compelling reason to entrust us with design tasks, saving integrators’ design teams significant time.

Our specialty is understanding the leading technologies in both the electronic security and IT markets and bringing them together to create solutions never seen or proposed in our industry

a&s Middle East: Can you discuss the RAID architectures Secure Logiq utilizes to enhance data resilience in surveillance applications and the benefits of these configurations?

Subbiah: So, without revealing too much, RAID cards within a server serve two primary purposes. Firstly, they efficiently distribute video images across multiple hard disks. When correctly configured with suitable HDDs, this capability is crucial in achieving performance figures significantly higher than those of our competitors.

Secondly, as you noted, RAID cards are essential for safeguarding data in the event of HDD failure. Considering that HDDs are the only moving parts in servers and are subjected to rigorous use in CCTV applications, they are inevitably prone to failure regardless of their quality. In some cases, RAID configurations are dictated by integrators or even by legal requirements in the Middle East. While we can provide any RAID configuration, our default setup prioritizes Value, Performance, and Risk Optimization.

The likelihood of disk failure increases with the number of disks, which raises concerns about resilience and rebuild times. The rebuild process, which is the most intensive phase for a server, occurs while it continues to perform its primary duties and other data-intensive tasks. In our system designs, we always account for this factor. For larger servers with 36, 60, or even 104 drive bays, we mitigate this risk by splitting RAID formations into multiple arrays and employing multiple RAID cards.

For large-scale projects, we often opt for SAN solutions because they allow us to move away from traditional RAID configurations and leverage advanced technologies like ADAPT. ADAPT enhances rebuild times with more HDDs, which contrasts with RAID where more disks can prolong the rebuild process.

a&s Middle East: How does Secure Logiq’s “Power of Partnerships: Intelligent Integration” initiative contribute to enhancing security system performance through effective hardware and software integration?

Subbiah: Our partnerships are more than mere checkboxes; we take them seriously. When we initiate a partnership, we rigorously test solutions together. This approach not only helps us minimize the hardware footprint but also makes the combined hardware and software solution more cost-effective per channel. Our technology partners require reliable hardware they can trust, which significantly reduces their support needs. Moreover, communicating with technical support teams who understand the application further enhances reliability.

As we saturated the UK market, the Middle East was the obvious next target for us

a&s Middle East: Can you elaborate on Secure Logiq’s approach to ensuring high performance and reliability in its HD surveillance servers, especially in demanding environments?

Subbiah: We design solutions tailored to specific applications. Our portfolio includes ruggedized, extreme-temperature, low-power, mobile, vibration-proof, and even water-cooled solutions—essentially everything except laptops and quantum computing. While servers should ideally be installed in a suitably cooled environment, we prioritize understanding our customers’ applications to craft appropriate solutions.

a&s Middle East: How does Secure Logiq collaborate with leading IP camera and VMS providers to optimize compatibility and performance with your server solutions?

Subbiah: We value our technology partnerships immensely. Communication and thorough testing are at the core of our approach. Through continuous online and in-person training, our technical and design teams stay abreast of the latest advancements in the market. This commitment distinguishes us from traditional IT-centric suppliers.

Initiatives like the Axis Communications TIP program and Milestone Marketplace assure our customers that our hardware is endorsed and recommended by industry leaders.

a&s Middle East: What are the key challenges you foresee in the future of HD surveillance technology and how is Secure Logiq preparing to address these challenges?

Subbiah: Interestingly, the challenges are not only industry buzzwords but also focal points for investment in the industry. While there is significant discussion surrounding ‘the cloud,’ the reality in large-scale Enterprise CCTV solutions includes ongoing challenges with connectivity, likely persisting for years to come. Recently, we have collaborated with multiple cloud solution providers to facilitate their business growth by establishing truly hybrid solutions, which many users are likely to adopt as a compromise in the foreseeable future.

Another critical issue in this IP-connected era is cybersecurity. Despite CCTV originally meaning ‘Closed Circuit TV,’ such closed systems are rare today. Based on our experience, once a solution is network-connected and secured with endpoint protection, users typically prefer to implement their own practices and protocols to defend against cyber threats.

Our partnerships are more than mere checkboxes; we take them seriously

a&s Middle East: Secure Logiq emphasizes resilience as one of its core principles. Could you explain how your servers achieve resilience beyond RAID configurations, such as in power redundancy and system monitoring?

Subbiah: We don’t take risks. All Secure Logiq servers include 5 layers of resilience as standard, often offered as optional upgrades elsewhere. Our Enterprise servers feature dual redundant power supplies, battery-backed RAID cards tailored to the application, operating system, and application separation on mirrored solid-state disks (SSDs), and our proprietary, complimentary health monitoring software, Logiqal Healthcheck Pro.

Additionally, we have extensive expertise in failover options. Our software development team has crafted a cost-effective High Availability solution compatible with any electronic security application. For higher resilience needs, we integrate third-party solutions like Stratus everRun.

The advantage of choosing us lies in our understanding of your goals. Instead of merely delivering a product, we prebuild and preconfigure the hardware and software for immediate use out of the box.

a&s Middle East: Can you share a case study or success story where Secure Logiq’s solutions have made a significant impact on a client’s surveillance operations?

Subbiah: One notable example is the Abraj Al-Bait, a government-owned complex of seven skyscrapers spanning over 1.5 million square meters in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. They were early adopters of IP CCTV, but technology has evolved significantly since the original installation. Our regional partners, VNS, replaced over 100 Network Video Recorders with just 11 super high-density storage servers in a single rack. This change drastically reduced power and cooling requirements while enhancing resilience and performance. Additionally, they integrated Video Analytics capabilities from the Netavis software suite.

a&s Middle East: How has the increase in demand for GPUs affected Secure Logiq’s manufacturing processes and product offerings, particularly in relation to video analytics and high-resolution camera solutions?

Subbiah: GPUs are among the fastest-evolving technologies our planet has witnessed. They are designed for a multitude of applications such as gaming, crypto mining, displaying increasingly high-resolution image streams across multiple monitors, and of course, AI, Video Analytics, and machine learning. The GPU market can be highly volatile, especially due to price fluctuations in cryptocurrencies, causing high-end GPUs to become scarce and expensive at times.

Unlike CPUs, which excel at executing a sequence of tasks quickly, GPUs are optimized to handle multiple small tasks simultaneously. However, in most cases, no single application fully utilizes all available resources. Without divulging too much, our Product Development team is actively collaborating with technology partners to test a new generation of alternative hardware known as ‘AI accelerators,’ specifically designed for video analytics applications. These accelerators promise to process many more streams of HD video at a fraction of the cost of a GPU.

Achieving cost-effectiveness in video analytics hinges on minimizing hardware expenses to meet objectives. Software pricing, once developed, can be adjusted to some extent and is unaffected by component availability and price fluctuations. Hardware, however, represents a fixed cost that naturally depreciates over time.

a&s Middle East: Considering the advancements in camera technology and the need for more powerful client hardware, how does Secure Logiq anticipate future trends in surveillance technology, both in terms of hardware requirements and market demand?

Subbiah: Interestingly, this can often be the weakest link in many Enterprise CCTV projects. As camera resolutions and frame rates increase and compression technology adapts to meet these demands, the decompression (and display) of camera streams is frequently overlooked. Some Video Management Software solutions incorporate sophisticated image scaling and stream management options, yet a commercial off-the-shelf desktop PC is often chosen as the user-facing interface for the solution. Such PCs were not designed to consistently decode multiple streams of HD video 24/7, which can lead to poor and irregular image quality that does not accurately represent the captured images stored in the solution.

Our advice is to procure end-to-end hardware solutions from experts who understand your application. If they don’t inquire about your VMS and display requirements, consider exploring other options.

a&s Middle East: What role does Secure Logiq’s free design service play in the customization and deployment of surveillance solutions? Can you share examples where this service has led to innovative solutions for your clients?

Subbiah: We continually analyze the market to maintain a competitive edge. While we have always provided detailed explanations of our solutions, in 2021 Secure Logiq made a significant investment in a dedicated design department and introduced our design guarantee. Unlike competitors who offer itemized breakdowns of quoted hardware, we provide detailed system schematics. These include power, cooling, and rack space requirements, connectivity, and networking specifications, comprehensive recording schedules itemized per camera, and a complete technical submission for customer review.

This approach allows customers to confidently create tender submissions, enhancing their trust and securing orders. The impact of an IT-savvy customer understanding the complexity of our solutions cannot be overstated. We take great pride in having our servers installed in over 300 data center security systems worldwide, all of which are exclusively filled with IT-centric servers!

a&s Middle East: Finally, looking at the broader industry landscape, what trends do you believe will shape the future of HD surveillance over the next five years, both globally and regionally?

Subbiah: Cause and effect are crucial, thus our focus on ‘The Power of Partnerships’. AI and video analytics will undoubtedly gain stronger traction, but there will be casualties—many new entrants lack industry insight despite substantial investments. Enhanced integration with VMS platforms (now increasingly offering built-in analytics) promises improved solutions at reduced hardware costs.

The cloud is currently oversold; widespread adoption within the next 5 years seems unlikely, but possibly within 15. Ultimately, integration remains pivotal. A single, seamless interface for managing CCTV, alarms, fire, access control, and BMS enhances safety and security. This unified approach simplifies monitoring and performance, reduces CAPEX, and OPEX, and minimizes business interruption incidents. Who wouldn’t see the value in that?

We have the highest performance and highest density storage servers in the industry

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