The next bit of advice follows the previous statement, and that is making sure to do your homework. Network with associates throughout the country. Find out what practices and products have worked for them. Take this opportunity to learn from their experiences (both good and bad).
ST&D: What strategies would you suggest for end users still employing traditional analog technology but moving towards an IP-based retrofit?
Paul Novak, vice president of Industry Solution Sales for Pelco: Education, organizational dialogue and convergence. Moving from analog to IP is a shift in technology but it is also a shift in the organization. The roles and responsibilities within the IT and security groups are changing. Encourage the IT and security groups to talk before the project becomes a reality. What are the roles and responsibilities of each group? Why is security just as important as the e-mail application? Getting people to communicate is just as important as making the technology communicate.
AL : The security side needs to be knowledgeable on the future network plans concerning growth, applications, and more. But obviously “look before you leap” is the fundamental strategy. Is an IP-based solution going to bring something to the table in terms of lower costs, improved flexibility, additional capabilities, etc., or is an analog video system sufficient for the application? Fully assess the trade-offs of any solution: higher quality images vs. network bandwidth.
Leon Chlimper, vice president of System Sales for Bosch Security Systems: The first thing that all parties need to understand is why you are moving to IP. Moving to IP because it is the technology of the day makes no sense considering that many analog systems have no reason to migrate to IP. There also needs to be a clear understanding of what IP is. The end user needs to understand what gains will be extracted of the system but also what limitations the system has. Not all systems do the same or perform equally. Once you have answers to those questions, you can begin by designing a migration strategy that is to be the least disruptive to the operation and that will re-use as much of the existing equipment as feasible.
FA: Consider transitioning to the IP-based system gradually. This can be accomplished by employing “hybrid” products that accept or output both analog and IP-based signals. For instance, network video servers will process analog video images and output in network protocol so you are not required to replace all of your analog equipment at one time. There are sufficient products on the market to allow a retrofit to be done over time so the capabilities of the security system will be continually enhanced.
J M: The first question I would ask of them regarding a retrofit would be exactly what they have in mind. However, if put on the spot, I would recommend a two-pronged approach to retrofitting their system. First, if their existing video equipment is relatively new, then I would recommend upgrading to a DVR that would allow them to access video remotely. All they would be doing is switching out their head-end equipment for vastly improved technology. Another suggestion I would offer to them would be to rewire their video system with CAT5 cabling. Transmitting the video signal (as well as power and data if necessary) via CAT5 would greatly reduce the chance of noise and outside interference corrupting the video signal. Plus, if they rewire with CAT5, they will now be ready to migrate to a full IP solution when the time is right.
I would caution them about a full IP retrofit at this time because it seems to me that there are too many variables that have not been standardized within the IP camera world, most notably the amount of bandwidth that will be taken up on a network by numerous IP cameras.
ST&D: How do you answer an end user who says, “I don't know the first thing about IP/Ethernet. It seems far too complicated to even consider”?