Best Practice 2: Prepare for Convergence
Convergence in the security and surveillance industry traditionally refers to integrating access control panels, video management systems, alarm sensors and the like into a cohesive IP-based solution to achieve system-wide interoperability of IP security devices. However, the best practice of convergence when it comes to network infrastructures involves assimilating all systems within an organization onto a common network infrastructure. In many ways, traditional security and access control departments have operated independently of various other departments within an organization, but the security and access control systems of today are no longer the only building system on the network.
Today’s network infrastructures support multiple systems from numerous departments on a common network that is managed by a single IT department. As a result, the security and access control department is being forced to share its network infrastructure with numerous other departments, including ventilation, lighting, power systems, communications and data technologies.
In order to successfully collaborate with other departments and systems on the network infrastructure, security professionals need to adopt the best practice of converging and integrating with non-security departments, as well as building a solid partnership with the IT department. Converging allows all systems to be viewed from a holistic perspective so the network infrastructure can be optimized to operate at peak performance.
Best Practice 3: Adopt an Open Standards Platform
Building a network infrastructure using an open, standards-based platform allows you to use the latest and greatest technology from multiple manufacturers instead of using the technology from a single manufacturer in an end-to-end system. Creating an open system also increases your bargaining power by allowing you to request quotes from multiple manufacturers for competitive bidding, whereas, if you purchase an end-to-end system, you are restricted to purchasing only a single manufacturer’s products. If you are already “spec’d in,” the manufacturer of an end-to-end system may not have an incentive to offer price breaks or discounts. With end-to-end systems, you may also run the risk of voiding warranty agreements if you install another brand of technology in the system.
Fortunately, cabling technologies are designed to be used in interoperable, open systems. All structured cabling manufactures must comply with cabling standards from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek Group (ETL) and National Electrical Code (NEC), as well as the design and engineering standards of the EIA/TIA Commercial Building Wiring Standards, which means you are free to choose any brand of cable and components as long as it meets industry standards. The TIA’s Commercial Building Wiring Standard (TIA-568) was established to encourage interoperability by allowing diverse manufacturers the opportunity to build equipment and components that interoperate instead of mandating end-to-end systems.
Best Practice 4: Manage Bandwidth
One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is managing bandwidth and surveillance video can exacerbate bandwidth challenges. Network infrastructures are continuing to become more capable of transmitting larger amounts of data; however, the resolution of security cameras is also increasing rapidly and continuing to test the limits of network infrastructures.
The bandwidth provided by Category 5e cables is already proving to be obsolete as demand for bandwidth continues to increase. In fact, Category 5e cables may no longer be recognized as a standard for horizontal cabling if proposed recommendations are approved for the TIA-942-A standard, which is expected to be finalized sometime in 2012. The bandwidth of a Category 5e cable is 87 percent utilized with gigabit Ethernet, which doesn’t leave much room for error. Though Category 5e may be capable of carrying gigabit Ethernet, these cables limit the future uses of an infrastructure, especially as it relates to surveillance video. Currently, Category 6 and Category 6a cables are the recommended standard, but fiber optic systems show the most potential for providing enough bandwidth and reliability at a low enough cost to meet bandwidth demands for the next decade, especially as the use of video increases. When possible, install one category of cable higher than your current needs to stay ahead of bandwidth demand.