The future of video management systems

How do you meet the needs of the end-user? Where is the market growth? What's the buzz about open platforms and analytics? Manufacturers, software developers and systems integrators weigh on this critical topic and more.

DVTel, Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Approach, State and Effect: VMS providers are looking at all the open standards in the market and taking the standards into account to help drive the development of solutions and interoperability. We're beginning to see VMS sales coming up to the level of DVR sales, indicating people are becoming more comfortable with IP-based solutions. In the next year or two, we expect VMS sales to overtake DVR sales. Open and Integrating: It's critical to offer an open-standards IP-based security operations center. DVTel supports many of the most popular brands of IP cameras, encoders, access control readers and panels, and intercoms, ensuring users won't be locked into proprietary hardware. ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: DVTel believes in open standards and partners regularly with the best-in-breed solution providers of storage, PSIM, server and wireless systems and is a member of both ONVIF and PSIA. Investing in VMS: The foundation of a VMS solution is the ability for the user to integrate video, audio, data, access control and alarm management functionality and requirements into one command and control center. When reviewing VMS solutions, systems integrators should look at two critical components-bandwidth and storage. Teaming with Video Analytics Providers: Earlier this year, DVTel acquired video analytics company ioimage. We recognize that video analytics is an important piece of the security puzzle to innovate end-to-end, IP-based physical security solutions to grow and to meet the changing needs of our customer base. We've also seen an increase in the number of third-party video analytics integrated with DVTel's enterprise level system, which was why we were keenly interested in buying a video analytics company.-Eli Gorovici, president/CEO, DVTel

Exacq Technologies, Fishers, Ind.

Approach, State and Effect: We started with the legacy analog cameras that are already installed in the field. Ripping out perfectly useful analog cameras to replace them with IP cameras or plugging those cameras into IP encoders is not often an option for end-users. We introduced a hybrid solution using a video capture card to bring the analog video into the same server that handles the IP cameras. Being able to provide a solution that works with the technology of the past, present and future is very appealing. Open and Integrating: A successful VMS will be built on and adopt open standards. We see the importance of integrating not only with IP cameras, but with different access control systems as well. Open standards like ONVIF and PSIA will create more opportunities for these entities to work together. ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: ONVIF and PSIA offer more integration between VMS software, IP cameras and access control systems. We are in the process of finishing our support for these new standards and will be rolling them out soon. Investing in VMS: A VMS solution should incorporate the various pieces of the end user's physical security system-from existing infrastructure to access control. Teaming with Video Analytics Providers: This is happening now in the industry. We are seeing more analytics solutions that reside on edge devices like cameras; this will continue to develop in the industry.-Roger D. Shuman, marketing manager, Exacq Technologies

GVI Security, Carrollton, Texas

Approach, State and Effect: For smaller systems, it has been common for IP camera vendors to provide freeware. However, such offerings are inadequate for the 16- to- 32 cameras user. Likewise, the VMS software created for enterprise applications, consisting of hundreds of cameras, is way too complex for the mid-market. What has been needed is software that frees the mid-market from being constrained to using DVR packages and without having to learn software and IT intricacies. The market is moving towards a VMS that makes installation and use of the software easy without sacrificing performance and control, one that automatically detects and recognizes cameras and devices and is easily configured using standard, off-the-shelf hardware. Open and Integrating: A VMS needs to be open to allow installers to select best of breed cameras that fit the specific application. ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: Standards like ONVIF and PSIA are moving the industry to increased interoperability between network camera manufacturers and third party recording and video management products. Though there are some standards for compression (H.264, MPEG-4) and streaming (RTSP), the basic command and control interfaces for setting video quality parameters, network parameters and PTZ control are all proprietary. Investing in VMS: Even though integrators and users in the mid-market want to go digital, they don't understand IT and really don't want to. That's why they continue to use the technology they know and continue to implement analog or hybrid analog/digital systems. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: Both the VMS providers and the video analytics providers must assure that their systems are open. Scalability between the VMS and the hardware and other software, including video analytics, is very important and only easily accomplished via open standards. -Tom Galvin, vice president of Product Management

Infinova, Monmouth Junction, N.J.

Approach, State and Effect: Analog surveillance system customers want their existing analog equipment, including cameras, control room, video wall and cabling to remain untouched. We suggest integrators use a co-existent strategy to show customers that their migration will be a gradual process that will allow them to fully depreciate their existing equipment. Coexistence is a solid plan in which both analog and IP cameras can operate side by side. Open and Integrating: Infinova end-users want such choices and having so many VMS suites to choose from gives our integrators opportunities to say "yes" to more projects. ONVIF and PSIA standards and VMS Providers: The numbers of VMS providers working with these standards groups continues to grow. It means integrators will have increased flexibilities in creating systems that implicitly match the needs of the end-user customer. Investing in VMS: The end-user is cost conscious and reluctant to write-off capital equipment such as their analog video equipment; including the control room, for the promise of better technology, such as IP video solutions. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: We are already integrated with Milestone that has a video analytics suite. In addition we have Delopt and Videonetics video analytics solutions that are working with Infinova. -Mark S. Wilson, vice president of Marketing

IPVision Software, Tampa, Fla.

Approach, State and Effect: Most companies are marketing their solutions as "Open Software Platforms" with sexy and proprietary windows GUIs. Video management as an application is great for everyone, especially for customers who want to get away from proprietary black-box recorders, storage, and servers. Due to the continued acceptance of higher definition networked cameras with their advanced features, and highly available IP networks, the ability to provide higher quality video to more people, in more places just drives the need for video management as another datacenter application. Open and Integrating: There is a need to start leveraging in-camera processors and features and stop sending video to proprietary software on servers that users access through each vendor's proprietary windows applications. We need to start opening up the system to leverage web services and generic phone tools (e-mail, Web browsers, instant messaging) as well. ONVIF and PSIA standards and VMS Providers: This means more stable deployments and eventually plug-n-play set up and configuration. However, we need to ensure that standards evolve to support new architectures and capabilities. Investing in VMS: Look at what you're buying and paying for versus how something's being sold. Spend time calculating the upfront, ongoing and underlying costs of the initial system over three years and its expansion should you need to add more cameras, storage, video processing, resolution, or other features such as integration with access control, SCADA, PoS, etc. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: Most analytics will eventually migrate into the camera/encoder due to faster processors. Thus, VMS providers will need to transition from DVR and NVR providers to real-time video and event management applications which work in unison with analytics and other event sources. -Mark Kolar, executive vice president

Intelligent Security Systems (ISS), Woodbridge, N.J.

Approach, State and Effect: VMS providers must look at solutions that are more fluid and can cover a wide range of end-user needs. As high resolution cameras continue their influx into the market, along with ever more feature rich cameras, VMS providers are looking five to 10 years down the road and anticipating many of the changes that will take place, particularly in the digital sector with the continuing conversion of CCTV to digital standards. Open and Integrating: If they're not, they should be. The reality is that truly open platforms are more and more of a necessity, not simply a "nice to have." As the trend toward high resolution, ever more feature rich cameras continues and as security needs grow, the smart systems are set up to accommodate integration. ONVIF and PSIA standards and VMS Providers: This would seem to be more of a niche right now, though that may change in the future. Investing in VMS: The vendor and the solution would have to anticipate continued growth into the future. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: Security solutions need to be highly intelligent and able to automate the security process. Highly intelligent analytics are a part of that automated process since it can alert staff to a situation that otherwise might go undetected. The ability of analytics to quickly extract relevant information from footage is also a huge advantage.-Wolfgang Ritter, director of Sales

Niscayah, Duluth, Ga.

Approach, State and Effect: VMS providers are emphasizing the ROI and quantifiable benefits for customers over glitz of the product interface. Savings from the reduction of manpower (guards) as well as the ability to track and monitor the many compliance issues facing today's businesses are very tangible savings and benefits. Our industry is becoming an IP driven "appliance and edge device" environment and this is very favorable to the VMS market. But the effect on VMS is difficult to gauge because simultaneously, there is an increasing demand for "smart" edge devices with their own hard drive and analytics on board and this favors a more decentralized focus, which is not as favorable for VMS platforms. Open and Integrating: VMS companies that are "software only," open platform that interface with as many hardware manufactures as possible will enhance their salability. ONVIF and PSIA standards and VMS Providers: This evolution of standards is driven by the development of new products and technology to meet specific business issues as demanded by customers. Investing in VMS: Before undertaking a large scale VMS project, a customer should first perform a comprehensive business evaluation involving functional areas of the enterprise (risk, human resources, marketing). Doing so will determine the business issues to address and the scope of tools to employ to meet the needs of the enterprise. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: VMS manufacturers have been interfacing with third party applications such as facial recognition and motion detection for several years; we are now seeing that explode with the smartphone revolution. -Bob Stockwell, director of System Operations

OnSSI, Pearl River, N.Y.

Approach, State and Effect: IP-based video management solutions provide valuable data, are a useful asset to the enterprise and a solid return on investment. Diversity of the systems will continue as the ability to count customers/people, monitor crowd control and integrate with other department applications such as HR, maintenance and facilities. In the future, wireless technologies will have an impact on the VMS market. Open and Integrating: Open architecture is definitely the trend, and the customer stands to benefit most. ONVIF and PSIA standards and VMS providers: ONVIF and PSIA are great news for the industry, and it is interesting to note that these efforts are largely supplier-driven. Investing in VMS: It is a challenge for the user to know where to start and how to determine which management system provides the right features or best ROI. Ideally, PSIM technology should be intuitive and relatively simple to configure and readily able to integrate with network-based access control, visitor management, intrusion and fire alarm systems. Teaming with Video Analytics Providers: It makes sense for video analytics to be incorporated as part of a VMS-open architecture makes it easier to do so.-Gadi Piran, president

UTC Fire & Security, Farmington, Conn.

Approach, State and Effect: The current trend is towards fully integrated operator consoles where the security operations are unified on a 'single pane of glass,' thereby reducing training costs and improving operator response. We have been part of this trend with the OnGuard product from Lenel which allows for integration and interoperability of video and access control. Open and Integrating: Most products provide some form of documented SDK (Software Development Kit) and API (Application Programming Interface) allowing basic integration and interoperation with other products. The trend is towards more integration and increasing other security and safety domains and building automation systems. ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: Standards such as those being created by ONVIF and PSIA help create a common architecture and language for product interoperation and integration. Investing in VMS: Key product checklist items should include: relevant feature and function support; support of video devices under purchase consideration; compliance with current and emerging standards; SDK/API support for integration and interoperation; and the ability of the vendor to service and support the customer both at installation and deployment as well as over time. Teaming with Video Analytic Providers: There has been a great deal of consolidation in the analytics market and the principle model seems to be that of analytics vendor neutrality. -Clifford Cox, product manager, digital video systems

Verint Systems Inc., Melville, N.Y.

Approach, State and Effect: The market is a growth market. IT is becoming more aware because video can run in H.264 across the corporate pipe. The market is headed in the same direction as the computer space had headed and the same direction as the software/hardware market went. Open and Integrating: This is a necessary component if you want to be an enterprise class VMS system, you have to be open and able to integrate the access, fire and alarms. In some cases this also involves integrating with retailers' databases and back office warehouses. If you are not open you will have a difficult challenge buying solutions. ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: We are waiting to see who wins this race. Investing in VMS: There are performance expectations that need to be met so you will need to have an open standards-based platform that is IP and user friendly. Teaming with Video Analytics Providers: We sell our own analytics and we team up with analytic providers on our open platform. There are certain analytics that are unique and we look at analytics as a feature.-Stephen Foley, general manager and senior vice president

VidSys, Marlborough, Mass.

Approach, State and Effect: New multi-vendor video management solutions allow an organization to mix products from multiple vendors. Two approaches are coming to market: Video Management Centric integration where a VMS solution does integration with a select number of devices to drive selecting cameras to review, and Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software which is a software only solution that integrates all the disparate physical security devices. Open and Integrating: When vendor A's video management system has an open interface to allow vendor B to manage their video system (both cameras and recording) then they are truly "OPEN." ONVIF and PSIA Standards and VMS Providers: A growing number of vendors have implemented the camera standards of both groups and with the recent release of the PSIA Version 1.1 of the Recording and Content Management Video Management (RACM) there are now a number of implementations of the recording side as well. Investing in VMS: When selecting a VMS look for a system that enables the connection of any number and type of video devices or systems, a plug-and-play approach with robust SDKs and APIs that makes adding access to a new device (e.g., video system, camera, NVR etc.) quick and seamless. Teaming with Video Analytics Providers: While video analytics are useful not all analytics software solutions are a best fit for all situations.-David Fowler, senior vice president of Marketing and Product Development

The Hallmark 'Touch' of a True Open Platform
By Eric Fullerton

In a market where it is an absolute faux pas to admit a proprietary solution it is important for customers to be able to decipher between a true open platform and a vendor claiming to have an open platform.
Milestone Systems recently embarked on a road show with Arecont Vision and Pivot3 preaching the advantages of IP. At each location we have faced some form of the question, 'how do I determine the difference between an open platform and what you (Milestone) calls true open platform?'

Here are five hallmarks that any customer should ask to determine if the investment they are about to make is truly an open platform.

Common external programming interfaces-The characteristic of this hallmark is having a common Application Programming Interface (API) that can be used easily by the partners and end-user.

Published documentation-This one is extremely important because it often weeds out solutions that claim to be open because you can integrate a third party solution even though they do not offer a truly open and published Software Development Kit (SDK). Milestone offers published API's through our SDK that is powerful and easy to use.

Training-This hallmark can be the ultimate differentiator between a true open platform and a one with aspects of an open platform. If a manufacturer's open platform offers published API's, and an SDK you are heading in the right direction but it only begins there. The next step is to train third party programmers on how to write to those API's and use the SDK. Training a company to integrate seamlessly to published API's and getting the fullest out of an SDK is the true value-add for the parties involved and passed on to the end-user.

Project Consulting-This means that the manufacturer takes the necessary steps to make sure that the integration to the open platform is a smooth and seamless transition. Having a series of skillful engineers who can either help integrate the solution by aiding in the process. Or alternatively, the manufacturer's engineers can take ownership of doing the integration and putting it through an intensive quality assurance upon the third party's request.

"Walk the Talk" -Even with the aforementioned hallmarks the list would not be complete if we did not say that a company actually has to conduct its business according to the hallmarks. This is at the core of the problem with today's vendors, everyone is talking the talk but who is walking the walk? Put them up to the five hallmarks to find out.

Eric Fullerton is corporate chief sales & marketing officer for Milestone Systems, Beaverton, Ore.