Many security professionals believe that IP-based surveillance will not be able to meet the requirements of enterprise installations. The main reason given is usually the management and bandwidth required by the large number of network cameras. At an enterprise install, this could be anywhere from 50 cameras to several thousand cameras. With so many cameras, security professionals often begin to wonder how they will scale and administrate such a large camera system. Concerns such as degrading network quality with too much video traffic or managing firmware upgrades on each camera often take center stage and prevent enterprise-level installations from moving forward.
In reality, the larger the installation and the higher level of performance desired, the more competitive â€“ and impressive â€“ IP-based surveillance becomes. Because it is based on standard IT components, network video is inherently more scalable and flexible than analog systems, which are still largely based on proprietary technology. These IT standards make IP-based surveillance ideal for enterprise-level applications because they enable users to easily scale their networks to any size and reduce the amount of time required to maintain and monitor the system.
No Installation Too Big
One of the many advantages of IP-based surveillance is the scalability of the systems. Enterprise-level network video installations today regularly have 200 or more cameras. There are also several installs with thousands of cameras deployed in educational, governmental and retail environments. Such a large system would not be practical in the analog world.
Exactly how does IP surveillance technology accommodate so many cameras? The answer goes back to IP surveillanceâ€™s basis in IT networking. Just as e-mail systems can accommodate one user or thousands of users, so too can IP surveillance systems scale to handle thousands of cameras. Internet Protocol is the most common computer communication protocol today and is the basis for almost every newly installed network. One of the reasons it is so popular is scalability â€“ it works just as well in small installations as it does in very large ones.
Here are a few more reasons IP surveillance systems scale much more easily than their analog counterparts:
Incremental Increases: In network video systems, cameras can be added one at a time. DVR systems typically require cameras to be added in multiples of 16 or more, because of the number of inputs on a DVR. For example, if a site has a need for 17 cameras, then a second DVR box will need to be added, even though 15 of the ports will go unused.
Storage and Server Technology: As more cameras are added to a system, additional processing power and storage can easily be added with standard IT equipment. Servers, network attached storage (NAS) systems and storage area networks (SANs) are all reasonably priced and readily available off-the-shelf. Because network video systems are standardized with Internet Protocol, they will work with any other IP-based equipment, regardless of the vendor. This means that users will not be locked into a system from a single company, which is unlike most analog-based and DVR-based systems today.
Storage and server technology also makes it easy to back up network video systems. In fact, the servers used in IP surveillance systems are often the same as those entrusted to back up banking transactions.
Camera Intelligence: Traditional analog systems are much like mainframes from the 1970s. It creates an environment in which the centralized computing power is a scarce resource that compression, recording, video management and intelligent algorithms are all forced to share. This makes it difficult to operate any video system with more than about 20 cameras and severely limits scalability.