Over the past several years, the shift from analog to IP video surveillance has picked up considerable steam. The benefits of IP over analog are numerous and begin simply with better video quality. IP breaks past NTSC restrictions with newer codecs in encoders, along with the ability to use HD and megapixel IP cameras. It also allows us to retain data for longer with the help of larger hard drive devices and shared storage capacity on NVRs.
Switching over to IP also provides more flexibility in that organizations can use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IT equipment and network infrastructure that’s already in place. With the right security software installed, organizations can use their own servers and storage instead of the proprietary DVRs used with analog systems. Additionally, IP-based systems allow you to easily set up workstations and remote monitoring stations as long as there is network or Internet access.
The other major reasons to move to an IP network are reliability and intelligence. With NVRs, you have the ability to deploy redundancy and failover mechanisms; with DVRs you cannot. And IP networks enable you to better analyze and draw conclusions from captured video because of the additional metadata that can accompany the video.
Clearly the benefits of using an IP-based network for video surveillance are substantial enough for any organization to seriously consider a shift. So the question is — what’s the best way to migrate? Finding the most cost-effective and non-disruptive path for switching over has become a primary objective for many security and IT departments. The good news is there are migration paths that don’t require organizations to rip and replace everything, but instead allow them to migrate in steps.
To decide which migration option is best for your organization, you need to look at what the organization moving from, where you want the organization to be, and how long —and how much — should be spent to get there.
Today, a typical analog CCTV system might start with a set of analog cameras connected via coax and fiber to a set of DVRs, which are potentially looped through to an analog matrix switch. In this configuration, operators are either using a CCTV keyboard attached to the matrix switch to control camera call up on the matrix switch’s monitors, or they might be using DVR-viewing software on PCs to view multiple cameras from multiple DVRs.
Let’s look at some different options to migrate to IP.
Option 1: Video Encoders
One option would be to replace the DVRs with multi-channel network IP video encoders. The encoders could send the digitized video over the network to a set of NVRs, which are typically under the management of a single central server. The analog switch is replaced by the IP network switch and video management software. In order to view the video, analog matrix switch monitors would be replaced with PCs running decoder software that are attached to large flat screens. This then creates a Video Wall and the Virtual Matrix.
Option 2: Hybrid Recording
In the event that replacing DVRs is possible, but placing video on the network isn’t very attractive, hybrid recorders solve this issue. Hybrid recorders are essentially COTS NVRs with separate grabber cards inside them, or directly attached. As far as the operator is concerned, it looks and feels like IP video. And in the event that the network goes down or is congested, recording continues without fail. This concept is referred to as recording at the edge because the cameras’ video does not touch the IP network in order to be recorded.
With both option 1 and 2, the recorders can capture video from existing analog cameras as well as new IP cameras. This creates a smooth migration strategy that enables organizations to experiment with newer HD and megapixel cameras and gradually phase out and replace analog cameras as desired.