IT professionals in law enforcement agencies are facing a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. There is significant growth in the amount of digital forensic data with an increasingly scrutinized chain of custody requirements. There is also a massive growth in the amount of body cam and dashcam data that needs to be stored. The fact is, this data must remain secure and intact at all times and the exact volume of data that will need to be stored in the coming weeks, months and years has become highly variable. With all of these challenges being handled within budgetary constraints – running out of storage is not an option.
So, what are your options for data storage?
You have the classic standalone server which is easy to grow as you can easily add capacity to your network when you need it. However, this option lacks high-availability and for your organization – that just won’t work. You can’t risk your storage server going down and that critical data not being available – or getting lost. Not to mention, with multiple people accessing a single server it may create a bottleneck that can slow down data retrieval if you require files quickly.
You can opt for a cloud option but depending on the type of files (evidence) you’re storing, you might still require an on-site server due to the nature of the data and cloud’s privacy issues. The other issues with cloud are that it’s only as fast as your internet connection and pulling large files down from the cloud can get expensive. Not to mention, if you’re Canadian – it’s hard to find a cloud provider that has the right security regulations. Most cloud providers with the best privacy laws are based in the US and Canadian law officials can’t store their files outside the country.
A clustered solution is your best option to efficiently and affordably store data for your requirements. It’s the only option if you need your data available all the time without any downtime, due to it’s high-availability. It’s also scalable in performance and size without disruption.
So, let’s talk about clustering if this is a foreign word to you – don’t worry, the concept is pretty easy. Clustering is tying multiple storage servers together to act as one large storage unit. The main benefit of clustering is that it gives you high-availability. Storage clusters allow data to stay safe and accessible even in the event of entire servers failing. This incredible uptime is called “high-availability”. High-availability provides a compelling reason to cluster – even for smaller data sets because you have minimal risk of outages and it allows you to maintain your server during work hours, as there is no downtime.
Clustering also offers easy scalability in performance and capacity. You can incrementally build capacity as required, maintain service to clients without interruption during expansion, and avoid performance bottlenecks that occur with standalone servers.
Now, more than ever – law enforcement agencies are processing massive amounts of video footage as evidence that has to be accessed easily and quickly. You can’t afford to lose data or have it tampered with. You need to know that not just anyone can access your confidential data – even on your team. That way you can confidently walk into a trial knowing your evidence hasn’t been accessed by anyone else.
Also, surveillance and body-worn camera data are becoming mandatory with storage requirements differing from province-to-province and state-to-state. Each crime has a different storage length allotted to it. So, it’s time to think ahead and have a robust solution in place so you can ensure you never run out of data, or have to choose which crucial files to delete. It’s time to think beyond the next few years and consider a storage solution that will take you into the next 20 years.
I guess what I’m saying is, you need a solution that will grow with you while being compatible, functional, affordable, and robust. Law enforcement agencies are often sold on legacy solutions that lock you in. When your contract ends with your storage provider – you’re left holding the bag, and with a storage solution, you can’t do anything with. Legacy solutions can be very confining and burdensome – but don’t worry you have options.
So, what would the perfect storage solution for law enforcement look like?
The good news is, we offer all of that and we are the only storage provider that offers hardware and open source software support.
There’s no reason you should feel like you only have one choice when it comes to storage solutions. You have options ranging from single servers, cloud, and clusters to proprietary and open source. However, if you’re worried about how you’re going to store your data now or in the future and are curious about the freedom of open source – reach out to us. We have a team dedicated to helping you every step of the way.
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