Beyond the DVR

Storage and retrieval applications are blossoming in the security market.


The next significant advantage is that you can base your video storage applications anywhere on the network. This generated the new term Network Video Recorder, or NVR, which has two types of implementations. The first is a “network aware” DVR developed on PC-based architecture, and the second simply uses a standard server which uses the same storage systems and disks as in any other servers capable of storing video imaging. This allows for the centralization of video storage and management in a Security Operations Center (SOC). You can also choose to have distributed SOC controls as well. This also allows for ease of remote monitoring across the network using standard PCs and browser technology for controlling pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras and video surveillance. Gone are the 50-pound, standalone monitors.

Capacity and scalability have taken a significant leap ahead on NVR systems. Previous DVR systems could typically support 16 cameras, some higher-end systems could support up to 64 cameras. NVR systems can support camera counts from 50 up to 1,000 each. As your needs grow, you can simply add more capacity. Maximum resolution is also effectively unlimited. As digital cameras continue to provide increasing resolution, NVR technology can receive and decode without needing to be modified. NVRs can operate on almost any network topology, including wireless systems. You can install and configure effectively an unlimited number of servers for this purpose. Since the NVR is a server, it can be mirrored, providing you with backup and recovery capability of the stored images, thus preventing loss of the information in the event a server disk goes bad. Also, if the failure is in the server itself and not on the disk, the disk can be pulled and put into another server without losing the data. The typical cost to replace a failed DVR is the same as the unit cost, as they usually need to be replaced at a price that can be in the thousands. The same failure in a disk drive on an NVR server is only a couple of hundred dollars.

Computer industry leaders are making great strides in storage technology. The future of the NVR will be significantly impacted by these developments. Companies like CISCO and IBM, to name a few, are taking traditional IT storage ideas used in the data network world and applying them to traditional video. The following links can provide more information:

* http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6936/products_white_paper0900aecd804a3e89.shtml

* http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/index.wss/summary/imc/a1027383?cntxt=a1005270

Spotlight on the Steelbox Solution

The number of companies in this rapidly evolving area can provide a bewildering array of choices — many of which are simply creative uses of existing IT products and services available in the market today. There are also innovative companies like Steelbox Networks that have come up with options of their own in this rapidly evolving area.

To illustrate this rapidly developing market we asked Richard "Chip" Howes, Steelbox president and CEO, and Andrew Flood, lead sales engineer, to provide details about their solutions.

“The Steelbox solution uses only two basic module types to build video surveillance and storage networks of any size — a Digital Matrix Storage Switch, or DMSS, controller module, and a Storage System module. The DMSS modules provide control logic to capture up to hundreds of concurrent video streams for live as well as online storage for presentation to any number of surveillance stations, command and control centers and video walls.”

“The Steelbox DMSS pricing is based on the input bandwidth required for “x” number of streams. For example, a 16-camera system based on Axis MPEG4 cameras would require about 50 Mbps of bandwidth. (This assumes a stream consisting of 4CIF, 30FPS imagery.) The system scales to support 1.5 Gbps of input bandwidth (i.e. – 512 3 Mbps camera streams), 1.5 Gbps of output bandwidth (i.e. – 128 stations at 12 Mbps per station), and 1.5 Gbps of throughput to storage arrays”.

“The DMSS supports redundant power supplies to mitigate power failures and provides up to 14 GigE network ports or ATM connectivity. The Steelbox Raid solutions provide redundant power supplies and supports Raid 0 and Raid 5 configurations for fault tolerance. In addition, the smart load balancing that the DMSS provides allows for Raid units to be taken offline for servicing without disrupting stream recording.”

“The product supports both local and distributed deployment schemes. The deployment flexibility offers the ability to manage the solution and provide critical video to remote locations in a bandwidth-conscious methodology. It also uses a smart load balancing technology that allows Raid arrays to be taken offline, repaired, or replaced without loss of stream recording. It can also be integrated in a variety of network infrastructures to provide the flexibility required for existing installations”.