Network vs. analog video: A roundtable

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


Provinsal: The use of analog tape-based recorders should become extinct in the next few years. The evidence is the disappearance of manufacturers these units. There are two basic hardware components of the IP-based solution: cameras and recorders. The economics of rewiring an existing installation in order to switch out analog cameras for IP cameras do not make sense. For this reason, analog cameras will continue to be viable for the next 5-10 years. The recording platforms for IP-based surveillance systems are categorized as DVRs or NVRs. However, DVRs should be categorized as encoders with built in storage. Many DVRs are now also recording IP camera video sources. The use of DVRs and NVRs are predominant in our market today. The two types of recording products will continue to co-exist until analog cameras are no longer installed.

Apple: For how many years have you heard that IP would totally take over analog systems in five years? This is a moving target. The fact of the matter is that, coming from some really small camera counts, the growth numbers for IP cameras are pretty impressive, but I have to say that the bulk of the market will be using analog cameras on coax and analog cameras in hybrid UTP beyond 2015. Installing IP cameras on UTP is just another choice.

Banerjee: Because of its solid foundation in the industry, analog will remain a viable technology for many years to come, simply because for most people it is “good enough”. In fact, for the majority it is “way more than enough”. However, larger applications are switching to IP video faster because they are willing to accept a more technically complex solution because of the flexibility it offers.

Aronson: The advantages of digital recording and IP distribution are too great to ignore. Currently there are few new all-analog systems being installed; most companies are implementing “hybrid” systems, i.e., analog cameras and digital storage. It could be as much as 15 years before video is exclusively IP. For some applications, however, analog cameras can remain a viable choice for many years to come. The interesting metric is when the market “tips” and 90 percent of new systems are IP. At that point, it no longer matters how long analog remains viable in niches. If we look at what has happened to telephone systems as a model, that point could be in as little as 5 years.

Havlin: Several studies have shown that IP cameras sales will eclipse that of analog, but nobody can say for sure when this will happen. It is true that analog camera sales will decrease over time, however, analog will never completely disappear. In fact, the trend may actually be slowing down somewhat as previously forecasted. Most industry experts would agree that IP-based systems have not taken on the market as fast as everyone had anticipated. Nevertheless, IP-based systems will take over the more sophisticated systems and IP products will shift more into the mainstream as the market matures.

Forest: I believe that the industry will rapidly migrate to IP-based recording solutions but that many analog cameras will remain in the field until they expire in the next 5-8 years since they can still deliver value in certain limited applications.

Lavery: Analog cameras should remain an option for the next 10-20 years, but on a much smaller scale. As computer chip and IT equipment prices continue to drop, more and more analog camera manufactures will make the transition to network cameras. A much more computer savvy workforce will be in place by then, and they will not be intimidated by the new technology, as is the case with many people today.

Nilsson: Analog systems will certainly still be around 10 years from now, if nothing else for the replacement market of existing analog systems. Just like the VCRs are hanging around longer than expected, so will the analog cameras and the DVRs, especially in the entry-level market with smaller systems of 4 to 8 cameras. However, I do not expect any of the major players to be focusing on the analog market 5 to 7 years from now.

Rakow: It is only a viable choice for the integrator if the integrator does not have the technical expertise to design and install IP. It has not been a viable choice for customers for about a year.

Shabtai: Analog will remain as long as analog solutions are cheaper for replacing existing analog infrastructure, and as long as megapixel cameras remain marginal in their market share.

Learn More:
Go back and read the other half of this IP vs. analog video roundtable; it appeared in the July 2008 issue of Security Technology & Design magazine.