Founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Dean Drako (whose track record includes Barracuda Networks), Eagle Eye Networks specialises in cloud-based video management for security and operations teams in businesses. Its flagship product is Eagle Eye Cloud Security Camera VMS (Video Management System), which works with a broad range of analogue and IP video cameras, providing secure encrypted access to cloud storage via an onsite bridge appliance, with on-premise video storage also available.
“We’ve had incredibly good success in the US market, and incredibly good success in Asian markets — Japan, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan — but we have not put a whole lot of effort into the European market,” Drako told ZDNet.
That’s the background to Eagle Eye’s acquisition, for an unspecified sum, of Amsterdam-based Panasonic Cloud Management Services BV, whose key assets are Cameramanager, a cloud-based video surveillance solution, and Panasonic Nubo, a wireless (wi-fi and 4G LTE) security camera.
Unlike Eagle Eye’s VMS, Panasonic’s Cameramanager (which will be renamed Eagle Eye CameraManager post-acquisition) is designed to handle modest numbers of cameras — no more than three per site. That’s because the cameras talk directly to the cloud via a software agent, rather than going through an onsite bridge appliance.
“That works great for one, two, three cameras per location,” said Drako, “but if you get to more cameras, the cameras start to fight each other getting up to the cloud, and you don’t really want to try and manage them all individually.” Under Eagle Eye, CameraManager will also broaden its support from just Panasonic cameras to include devices from other manufacturers, Drako added.
Going forward, Eagle Eye’s portfolio now includes the SME-focused CameraManager, and the “more industrial, cybersecure, higher-end” Eagle Eye VMS, as Drako described it, which can handle over 200 cameras per location. “The great thing is that the cameras that work on CameraManager will also work on VMS, so customers can migrate without having to lose their investment in the installation of the cameras,” Drako added.
The security of IoT devices such as video cameras and DVRs is a particularly hot topic following a series of Mirai botnet incidents, and Eagle Eye’s flagship VMS product, with its ‘cyber lockdown’ feature, looks solid in this respect (see image above). But what’s the situation with the low-end, direct-to-cloud CameraManager?
“It’s good — everything’s encrypted, the cameras ‘phone home’ to the cloud, no ports are open — there are no security vulnerabilities,” said Drako. “But you are subject to the security posture of the camera manufacturer,” he added, “because you don’t control the firmware on the camera, so you’re beholden to the camera manufacturer to make sure they’re really secure and don’t do anything dumb.”
Drako noted that cameras and DVRs from Chinese manufacturer Dahua were heavily infected by the Mirai malware, and that Dahua and fellow Chinese vendor Hikvision are currently being “extremely aggressive to put all the other camera manufacturers in the world out of business” by undercutting competitors’ products by up to 50 percent.
“I don’t make recommendations about which cameras people should buy,” said Drako, “but I did put a feature in all of my Eagle Eye systems to stop those cameras from communicating to anything, anywhere, anytime on the internet.”
Eagle Eye does its own cloud hosting, and the Panasonic acquisition will bring the company’s data centre population up to eight — California, Texas, Canada, Japan (2), UK and the Netherlands (2). “We looked at using AWS, Azure…all of these things, but for the amount of data we store, it just doesn’t work,” said Drako. “The primary reason is cost: we currently store around 20 petabytes of data globally, and that gets pretty expensive in the Amazon world.” There’s also an architectural issue, said Drako: AWS separates storage (S3) and compute (EC2), whereas Eagle Eye uses a more hyperconverged system, with compute right next to the storage, so that live video can be viewed with low latency if necessary.
“We also operate a handful of private data centres for certain customers who are not comfortable with their video surveillance footage in a public cloud,” added Drako. “Given our architecture, we’re able to offer private cloud, in their data centre or our data centre, and that’s pretty popular for some of our large enterprise customers.”
Eagle Eye will retain all employees and the management team of Panasonic Cloud Management Services BV, which will be renamed Eagle Eye Networks BV.