Deals

Michael Dell is funding this company to move surveillance cameras onto the cloud

security camera
Image Credit: CWCS Managed Hosting/Flikr

Last month, Google-owned Nest made headlines when it confirmed rumors that it was acquiring connected-camera company Dropcam, well-known for putting its camera footage in the cloud. But what about professional grade security cameras — will they also become hip and modern and get connected to the cloud?

One company, Eagle Eye Networks, is working to get that process going, and it has just scored a second round of funding of an undisclosed amount from Dell Computers founder Michael Dell.

While regular folks can turn to Dropcam and the like to get a couple of cameras for their homes and be greeted with a simple setup and user interface, enterprise-level video surveillance requires expensive camera installations and special software and hardware that has to work together and that only stores the footage on the premises. Eagle Eye provides cloud-based software that companies can hook to their existing cameras (currently 100 different models), making it more flexible and accessible.

“The opportunity is video surveillance cameras connected to cloud — taking the video server out of the back closet and putting it in the back pocket,” president and chief executive Dean Drako told VentureBeat. He added that the market is growing 20 to 30 percent per year.

Drako, a serial entrepreneur who last founded Barracuda Networks and took it public, sees two main categories of use cases for video surveillance: traditional security needs and business operations.

On the business operations side, companies can start using their video to monitor employee performance, customer service, store traffic flow, and so on. Drako compared it to the recording and monitoring of customer support phone calls, which he says hugely improved their quality as it led companies to get more optimal employee training.

Eagle Eye puts all the video footage in the cloud and lets its customers wring out whatever analytics they want through its API.

“People are coming up with applications [of our API] we’ve never conceived of,” he said.

Large searches are one thing these analytics are enabling. For example, city governments can use their surveillance and traffic footage to track down stolen cars or track patterns and trends. But while Eagle Eye is doing the indexing of the footage, the identification algorithm is not something the company is currently doing.

As for its business model, Eagle Eye is going full-on reseller. Since launching in January, it has more than 100 active dealers in the U.S. Drako said that installation is the hurdle in the whole process, so selling through resellers is the most efficient strategy for Eagle Eye.

The biggest challenge the company will face is getting enterprises to accept a new business model, Drako admitted. Traditionally, camera surveillance has been a one-time purchase, but with cloud-based technology, subscriptions are becoming the new model, and convincing anyone to now pay you every month is at least a little bit of work.

In case you’re wondering why Michael Dell is investing in this particular company, it’s because camera surveillance is moving into the IT department, said Drako. Making it cloud-based and compatible with most existing hardware it key to that transition.

“The major reason I invested in Eagle Eye was because I believe in Dean Drako’s execution as founder and long-time CEO of Barracuda Networks,” Dell told VentureBeat via email.

Along with Dell, former Symantec chief executive and current FireEye board member Enrique Salem participated in this funding round. Eagle Eye will mainly use the new funds to hire more support staff and invest in data centers.

Drako started Eagle Eye Networks in 2012, and the company has offices in Austin and San Francisco. Until now, Drako self-financed the company.