Know Your IP Network

Today's modern IP network systems are as predictable and dependable as you can get. All of the components can be accurately measured and therefore the overall capacity of a system can be predicted.

For example, network bandwidth is reliable. When a cable is connected between two gigabit switch ports and green link lights appear at both ends, you can reliably predict there is 1,000 megabits per second of network bandwidth available within a very small margin of error. Another example of a highly reliable and predictable IP-based network is your television video content service provider. Service providers who deliver TV content know exactly how much bandwidth each of their TV shows consumes and they do not over-saturate their networks.

What about security on IP networks?

With all this reliability and predictability why are we concerned with putting security systems on IP networks? Security data can be difficult to predict as it comes in several different forms that include alarms, alerts and data from detection devices. Each of these devices triggers the push of large amounts of data to a variety of client workstations for distribution throughout the network. These events often grab someone's attention, resulting in more requests for video and data from the network system. The more significant the event, the more the demand and the greater the impact on the overall network.

These tips can help maximize the reliability and predictability of an IP-network system:

Scenario modeling: Before the IP network is designed, try to accurately predict the amount of traffic that will impact the network. Develop a few different scenarios to model the source and destination of traffic flows across the network based on some different events. Control what you can: Design the IP-based network to accommodate the weakest links and worst-case scenarios with some overhead. Storage systems can be relied upon to hold a predictable number of terabytes of data. Take some time to do the math and design a system that will accommodate the worst case model and then add at least 20 percent overhead to the system. Test and document: Properly install your system and test it to ensure you are achieving the level of performance expected.

It can be daunting to consider the skills required to do everything described above. Consider partnering with experts in portions of the system design. There are cabling, PC/Server, storage and networking components that come with performance guarantees and long warranties. Equipment manufacturers offer certification and training. Data communications and other subcontractors stand at the ready to install portions of the system you are not comfortable with.

An IP-networked based system can be reliably built. And it all starts with planning. By anticipating worst case scenarios, predictable performance can be achieved. Leverage the knowledge and expertise of your partners to create a plan for success that results in a positive end-user experience. In the end, your ability to manage and control the delivery of a well-designed system will be your golden ticket to future business, as well as referrals from satisfied customers.

Tools of the Trade
Here are a few tools available to help you design IP systems that are both reliable and predictable:

Server and Storage system calculator:

NVR Design Tool:

IP Camera design tools:

Tim Holloway is the vice president of Sales & Marketing, Security Solutions, CSC/WESCO, Carol Stream, Ill.,