Silver: Since no integrator has the resources to bench test each new offering in this rapidly developing market, we rely on the manufacturers’ published compatibility matrices and we make sure the camera and recording solution of the manufacturers agree.
Kauker: Working closely with both camera and NVR manufacturers is key in making sure that all of the features that are available in IP cameras can be taken advantage of in both NVR and VMS solutions. Standardizing on a few manufacturers of each helps us avoid compatibility issues.
How do you find compatible VMS software?
Kattel: We look for open-architecture VMS software. This prepares us for any challenges or integration that may be required as the project progresses.
Walker: We find what works and we stick with it.
Silver: Camera manufacturers are eager to make their products compatible with most recording solutions. Once compatibility is stated we check with the VMS publishers for confirmation. It’s especially important to verify firmware and software versions and not rely merely on model numbers.
Kauker: We work with our camera manufacturers to find out which applications are both fully developed and take advantage of the majority of their features.
What are two things integrators need to know about NVRs or VMS products in order to be successful?
Kattel: Understand the network infrastructure and shared application programs. Inventory the cameras, encoders, etc. and make sure that the NVRs will support it.
Walker: Thoroughly, thoroughly check out equipment. The biggest problem we find is in the proprietary equipment. We use open-source software and off- the-shelf servers and computers. If we have a server go down, we pull it out, take one off the shelf and we are back up and running—no down time and fewer points of failure. As a business owner you are building a business and need to stand behind the equipment.
Silver: The most important thing to know is your customers’ needs. Without understanding the functionality your customers require, you will be unable to choose the right solution. Once you know your customer’s expectations, the rest is just attention to detail in the execution.
Kauker: It is important to understand your customers business while at the same time understanding the limitations of the technologies being offered. Take a lot of time on the first installation so that you can program everything properly. If you don’t, you are wasting your customer’s money on a tool that they are not maximizing.
How is the H.264 compression affecting video management?
Kattel: H.264 compression is having a huge impact on video management as a whole. It has a bigger impact on wireless cameras. Wireless has always been a struggle in the video industry and we are always limited on the wireless bandwidth. With the help of H.264 compression, the video packets sizes are smaller and take less bandwidth. This has enabled us to add cameras via wireless in remote places and provide good video back to the command center. H.264 has also had an impact on the size of storage needed to store the video and with its compression the video sizes are about one-quarter the old video size. Less storage, less bandwidth with no video compromise, makes it a huge factor.
Walker: This helps us reduce bandwidth overhead. We can run many more cameras over the same data network as a result.
Silver: We’ve found that the real ‘gatekeepers’ for installations of IP based systems, whether NVR or VMS, are the customers’ IT professionals. The better compression methods get, the more willing IT staff is to open the gates, and these pros seem more aware of H.264 than they were of MJPG or MPEG4.
Kauker: H.264 is just another way to compress video. The actual management process does not change, it merely allows customers to store either bigger images, or keep them for longer periods of time. In 1971 Navco was in the business of storing pictures for customers and today nothing has radically changed in that mission. Analytics is changing video management, not H.264.