Network vs. analog video: A roundtable

Integrators and manufacturers debate the forces at work in this technology transition

Nilsson: The success of the IT market was built with a strong focus on standards and the convergence of physical security products to IT will be no different. Already many of the IP enabled products follow many standards such as 802.3af for PoE and H.264 for compression. There is however more that can be done standardizing the discovery of devices and interaction of network cameras with video management software, an effort addressed by an industry forum being formed by Axis, Sony and Bosch, three of the world’s leading security camera manufactures, which was announced recently.

Rakow: No, not in my experience.

Shabtai: Yes. The fact that an IP camera requires a special interface to the system while all analog cameras are interchangeable, delays the adoption of IP solutions as customers are reluctant to depend on single-source solutions with high levels and sometimes complex levels of integration.

Surfaro: There are ANSI-approved Interoperability Standards in place now for the security industry. These standards have been developed by the Security Industry Association.

Provinsal: Yes. The customer has to validate that any IP camera that they want to utilize in their security system has been integrated into their software. Analog cameras are based on a standard. An IP video standard adopted by the industry would remove another obstacle from the adoption rate.

Aronson: There are sufficient standards for IP-based video to deliver feature parity with analog systems. Development of standards for the next generation of IP video is a market exercise, such as we have seen with networking and Internet standards.

Banerjee: Yes. For this reason, Bosch, Axis and Sony are now working on a global standard that will define how information should be exchanged between components of a network video system. An open standard for communication between devices, such as cameras, encoders and video management systems, means that end users and systems integrators will have greater flexibility in using products from multiple vendors in the same project. By creating a standardized interface, we are supporting the increasing demand for and penetration of network video equipment.

Gorovici: When IP-based video standards are finally agreed upon, it will enhance the interoperability of different systems to one another, but IP-based video is still a very effective and fast-growing solution today. Software development kits are readily available to integrate IP cameras and encoders to the software-based solutions and most manufacturers today surmount any problems of standards by implementing integration techniques.

Havlin: To a certain extent it does, but it can prevent commoditization and innovation of some products. The user must make a solid choice for selection of a partner that can support them now and into the future. A poor choice may force a user to replace product that they recently purchased or have an isolated system that cannot communicate with their video management software.

Another problem that affects operating standards is a lack of a clear definition of terms. For example, everyone knows MPEG4 is an industry standard. However, there are 20 different profiles of MPEG4 compression, the latest being H.264, which is also known as MPEG4 version 10. So, a developer can stay inside a standard, but not limit their creativity. This can be both positive and negative, depending on the consumer’s preferences of features and benefits.

QUESTION: How much longer will analog remain a viable technology choice for end-users, or, when do you see the security industry migrating to IP-based systems exclusively?

Surfaro: Both technologies will continue to be sustained and deployed in a variety of applications. The use of these technologies will be driven by the user’s own application needs and functions, regardless of the video source type. Of course, infrastructure will be the biggest influencer for the video market, and even the correct deployment of power solutions for the security industry has yet to be mastered by our integrators. The wonderful thing about these related industries are the credentialing opportunities that exist to encourage quality and success. Examples of these credentials are the CPP, PSP, RCDD and CISSP.

Gorovici: The security industry will eventually migrate to IP-based systems exclusively. With price becoming less of an issue and the current functionality and future potential of IP-based systems so much greater, it is hard to imagine that analog will remain viable after about five more years.