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Ring Smart Lighting review: Convenient and affordable home security products Review

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Ring acquired Mr. Beams, makers of standalone outdoor smart lighting products, in early 2018. Since then, the two companies have worked to integrate the motion activated spotlights, step lights, and motion sensors into Ring’s product offering.

The process took longer than anticipated, but Ring’s Smart Lightning lineup officially launched in May. Shortly after the launch, Ring sent me a bundle of various products to test out around my home.

The kit I was sent included a Spotlight, a Motion Sensor, the 2-pack of Pathlights, a Steplight, and a Bridge. Ring also has a Floodlight that comes in battery or wired configurations. Pricing ranges from $25 for the Steplight to $70 for the wired floodlight.

I’ve been living with Ring’s Smart Lighting products for just over a month now, and for the most part, they’ve seamlessly blended in with the rest of the Ring products I have installed at my home.

Setup


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The setup process is straight-forward and simple. First, you’ll need to set up the $50 Smart Lighting Bridge that serves as a hub for the lights, connecting them to your WiFi and any other Ring products you have in your house. In the Ring app, you add a new Smart Lighting device and then scan a QR code on the device. The Ring app identifies which of the Smart Lighting products you just scanned and then adds it to your account.

You can then link the light or motion sensor to other Ring devices in your home. For example, you can set motion detection on a Pathlight to trigger a nearby Ring camera to begin recording, or turn on the rest of the lights you’ve installed, including those in a Ring camera.

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In total, I spent maybe 10-minutes setting up the Bridge, two Pathlights, a Motion Sensor and a Spotlight.

Battery powered has a big downside

ring-smart-lighting-motion-sensor.jpg

Ring Smart Lighting Motion Sensor. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Bridge needs to be plugged into a standard wall outlet using the included wall adapter and cable. Everything else in Ring’s Smart Lighting lineup requires traditional batteries. Batteries range from AAA in the Motion Sensor to D-cell batteries in the Spotlight and every size in between.

Ring uses standard batteries over rechargeable battery packs in an effort to achieve greater battery life, and achieve an affordable price point for the entire product line.

According to the company, you should only have to replace batteries in the Smart Lighting products about once a year. That will vary based on location and the amount of activity, of course.

One downside of using standard batteries is the amount of space those batteries take up. On something like the Motion Sensor, which uses three AAA batteries, the impact is not as dramatic — it’s bigger than the Wyze motion sensor. But when you look at the Spotlight that takes four D-cell batteries, you quickly realize how much space those batteries require. The Spotlight is bigger than the Stick Up Cam Battery I recently reviewed (the picture at the top of this review compares both devices), and for that matter, it’s bigger than the Spotlight Cam, a device that includes a camera and bright spotlights.

I would have preferred to have a removable battery pack that I have to charge once in a while (and pay a little more), and a smaller overall footprint. The Spotlight is almost comically big for just a light, and so far I’ve refused to permanently attach it to my house. It just looks awkward.

Experience

ring-smart-lighting-pathlight.jpg

Ring Smart Lighting Pathlight and the street that caused errant motion alerts. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The entire idea of Ring’s Smart Lighting is to light up the outside of your house, scaring wildlife or would-be bad guys in the process. Instead of having to run power to various parts of your property, the battery powered lights work together as a team.

Each light has a motion sensor that when triggered it will turn on its own light, and depending on your settings, other Ring lights and cameras. There are three settings for motion detection: Low, Medium, and High. I’ve tried all three settings for the two Pathlights I have in my front yard, and despite the road being roughly 50 feet away from the lights, I continue to get motion alerts whenever a car drives by.

Outside of overactive motion alerts from the Pathlights, the Spotlight and Motion Sensor have only sent alerts when there’s actual motion I care about. The controls and settings are easy to use and customize. I particularly appreciate the option to only have the lights turned on at night when motion is detected, saving battery life in the process.

Linking the lights or sensors to Ring cameras is a smart move, as well. Whenever a Pathlight detects motion, my doorbell immediately begins recording (that’s how I figured out cars passing by are to blame for the errant motion alerts) and the rest of my Smart Lights turn on instantly. An alert is sent to your phone, and you can then check your camera’s stream to see whatever’s lurking outside your phone.

Conclusion

I love the concept and idea behind Ring Smart Lighting. The added peace of mind that an area of my property where I don’t want to install a camera has a device that’s capable of detecting motion and alerting me is reassuring. I just wish the devices themselves were smaller, more streamlined, and had the same overall approach to design as Rings’ cameras.

The entire Smart Lighting lineup is affordably priced, and the Bridge can handle around 50 devices; more than enough for most users. For someone who maybe only has a Ring doorbell, but doesn’t want to spend money to spend the money on more expensive Ring cameras, Smart Lighting provides additional peace of mind.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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