This level of product interoperability helps to remove much of the complexity of network video system design and product selection, as well help decrease costs in several areas of the design/build process. Many projects include costly field hours spent by integrators to conduct product acceptance testing, a crucial step to ensuring for the customer that components will work together as part of the overall system. ONVIF-conformant products can dramatically reduce the time spent in this process, since the devices have been pre-certified to work together, resulting in much faster results. In some projects, this line item can be dramatically reduced or eliminated.
The same benefit is true for end-users looking to expand, fix or upgrade their current security system. Instead of culling together an IP-based physical security system from a single manufacturer, the end-user can update and upgrade their IP-based security system by selecting best-of-breed products instead of using one type or brand of product.
This can also present significant cost savings to an end-user looking to deploy new video system components on a national or global scale. While there would likely still be benefits to a global system using identical components in all locations, now an ONVIF-conformant system can be built around existing ONVIF components - the Shanghai office, for example, can keep its 15 existing, ONVIF-conformant PTZ cameras because those devices are already certified to work with the new video management system being deployed to centrally manage locations around the globe.
Additionally, when it comes to replacing a broken device, such as an IP camera, end-users are no longer locked into replacing it with an identical match. An end-user can branch out and use a camera with higher image resolution, different capabilities or a more cost-effective solution, so long as it has the ONVIF logo. The overriding benefit is being able to select the solution that best fits your security needs and your budget.
Because of these benefits, the market has begun to see consultants and end-users incorporate the ONVIF name into specifications, instead of specifications identifying a specific brand as part of the RFP process. Currently, many end-users or consultants might specify that all devices in a security system need to be able to integrate with a particular brand of management software. But not all software has integrated with, for example, all camera manufacturers. Now, that RFP can say the interface between the management software and devices should be ONVIF-conformant, providing everybody with a greater freedom of choice.
The bottom line is that end-users want the flexibility to determine which products best suit their security needs and they do not want to be locked into using solutions from a single manufacturer. Standardization and interoperability, at the direction of ONVIF, has enabled the security market to make significant strides resulting in better product choices, connectivity and return on investment for the end-user.
Jonas Andersson is Director of Business Development at Axis Communications AB with the global responsibility for business development of Axis' standardization initiatives. Mr. Andersson is also Chairman of the ONVIF (www.onvif.org) Steering Committee and leads standardization activities.