Steelbox hits the ground running

The video management system (VMS) seems to be the touch point that video surveillance product suite manufacturers want to have in their portfolio. In recent years, there has been a strong growth in the number of IP video supported VMS products. Even with a wide variety of VMS solutions on the market today, Steelbox president Nik Moissiadis says that most VMS focus simply on features but don’t consider the impact to the network.

“Digital video creates issues for all users on the network,” admits Moissiadis, whose firm launched its own VMS (SteelVision) this past week as it also introduced a rebranding across its product line.

The company was founded eight years ago, and its first product was what is now known as the SteelSwitch. It’s a media switch designed specifically to route video over the network in an efficient manner. Thus, when it was time for the company to roll out a VMS, Moissiadis said they took the same approach as they had with their video switch.

“If you’re not designing a VMS that takes into account networking, you’re nothing but an edge device that plays no role in the overall scope of the network. The network doesn’t take care of itself, and if you don’t take care of it, it won’t support you when you need it.”

The problem, he said, is being driven by four factors. First, users are increasing camera resolutions and frame rates. The user of today, he said, expects an approximation of the video quality they have from their home system, and that means increased interest and adoption of HD and megapixel cameras.

A second factor, says Moissiadis, is that end-users are coming from the analog world where there really wasn’t any latency. “The reality is that we have latency in most IP video systems.” Standard switches and poor network designs introduce that latency.

Third, he said that the industry often sees sub-standard network designs that don’t take into account worst-case-scenario planning for bandwidth. It’s not the normal days that you have to plan for, said Moissiadis. Instead, it’s the critical incidents that you have to plan for – the times when there are multiple demands of streams from your video surveillance system.

Those increased demands are the fourth factor. Moissiadis points toward a trend of deploying distributed systems which encourage remote access to video feeds. No longer is the only point of access for the “CCTV” system solely at the security office, and that means a system has to push its video out to more points than ever. The side effect of those multiple streams, he said, is that it will create fatigue on a system not designed for such volume of requests.

That’s the problem that Steelbox has been working on for the last year or so. Adtech Corporation acquired Steelbox in 2009 after the company faced financial difficulties. Then, just last year, Adtech purchased Telindus, which had a VMS solution, and began integrating the technology of Telindus into Steelbox.

Now, about one year after Telindus was acquired, Steelbox’s entire product portfolio is out with a rebranding and support for the company’s own SteelVision video management system. The switch is now known as SteelSwitch, and the company offers a network-attached storage (NAS) solution known as SteelVault. Also in the company’s product mix are the encoder/decoder devices now branded as SteelEdge.

Even with the roll-out of their own VMS, Steelbox’s Moissiadis says that the company doesn’t become a closed architecture. Steelbox was known in the industry for having their products (primarily the switches) used as part of total IP video systems being driven by other vendors’ video management systems.

“We were asked to deliver a VMS solution by customers,” Moissiadis said. “Still at end of day, a good chunk of our deployments will be using other VMS’s.”

The same holds true for the firm’s other products, which don’t have to be exclusively used in the system. The Steelbox model doesn’t preclude the user from selecting other manufacturer’s encoders or storage offerings.

With luck, the network focused approach to video management will pay off for Steelbox, as it takes the best of Telindus (the VMS) and the best of the former Steelbox entity (its network savvy switches) and applies them to the video requirements of today.