[Editor's note: John Honovich publishes this and other information on network video at IPVideoMarket.info.]
What do You Need to Know?
Security managers do not need to become IT experts to manage deployments of IT based security systems. However, they do need to know the main limitations and concerns of using IT systems.
Very few individuals are IT experts, even in IT. Ask an IT engineer about their manager and they are likely to say "How did this guy become my boss?" Do the same for IT salespeople and the response is usually, "Why did he tell them we could do that?"
For better or worse, projects get done in IT with most people lacking critical IT skills. Do not worry about becoming an IT expert - most of your peers in IT are not even experts.
The Key Issues
Here are the 5 key issues you should understand:
• Using IP Addresses
• Using network bandwidth
• Ensuring your systems meet IS standards
• Enabling remote access
• Handling installation and service
For most projects, if you address and handle each of these 8 issues, your project should proceed smoothly.
Every device connected to the network is assigned an IP address - your laptop, your desktop, your IP phones, your DVRs, etc., etc. However, there are a limited number of IP addresses available. In most organizations, especially large ones, IP addresses are carefully tracked and allocated deliberatively.
Most security systems, whether it is a DVR or an access control panel, need an IP address so that you can remotely view or control the device. Moreover, you usually need that address permanently so you typically request a static, non-changing address.
If you are using analog cameras, they do not need an IP address because they are connected by a dedicated cable to a DVR. However, each IP cameras does need an IP address. If you are going with IP, you certainly need far more IP addresses than with a DVR. On average about 10 - 20 times as many IP addresses are needed for IP than for analog.
Most IT organizations will have IP addresses available but you need to clearly request (1) how many and (2) the use of those IP addresses. In bigger organizations, getting an approval can sometimes take weeks. In smaller organizations, it can be as simple as confirming with the on-site IT manager.
Bandwidth is a critical aspect of IP based video systems. It is important to understand how much bandwidth is available in a network compared to how much bandwidth a video surveillance system requires. Please read my tutorial on bandwidth for the basics on this key issue.
The most important element impacting bandwidth is what you do about recording. This is because most video surveillance applications record far more frequently than they are viewed.
If you record using a DVR with analog cameras, there will be no bandwidth impact when it comes to recording. The only time bandwidth will be used is when a remote viewer requests video.
Using IP Cameras
If you record using IP cameras or encoders, bandwidth will be consumed from the location of those devices to the place where the recorder is. The key concern is whether the recorder is in the same building as the cameras. Usually when they are, significant amount of bandwidth is available. However, if you try to place a video recorder in a different building than the cameras, you often hit major problems with insufficient bandwidth.
When using IP cameras or encoders, you do need to know the capabilities of your local network. For instance, some banks and retailer still have low speed hubs in their sites. IP cameras would crash these networks. On the other hand, many universities have super high speed networks that can easily transport all of your cameras.
A common practice when IP cameras are close to the recorder is to simply install dedicated networking equipment to connect the cameras to the recorder. This is a low cost technique that eliminates most bandwidth concerns. In this way, IT does not worry about surveillance video impacting the general company network.