IT/Networking: Steps to Becoming the IP Video Go-To Guy

Networking basics for integrators

Everyone knows a Car Guy. It’s the person who can name the make, model and year of a moving car from a hundred yards away. It’s who we consult before buying a new car or taking in an old one for service. It’s the one who can actually answer the question: “What the heck is that sound?”

If you are the Car Guy or Gal of your group, you probably relish in the chance to talk shop with mechanics and salesmen. If not, chances are you’re a bit apprehensive when taking in your car to be serviced. You assume that the mechanic knows much more than you and could pretty much tell you anything—and you’d be forced to believe them.

With our industry shifting from analog to all-IP technology, many security professionals feel the same way when working with IP solutions that reside on the IT department’s network. To work successfully alongside your IT counterparts, you need to have a basic grasp of networking lingo and an understanding of what motivates—and stresses—those colleagues about maintaining the company’s infrastructure where all the business systems operate.


Turning IT opponents into security allies

Many IT professionals have already bought into network video surveillance because they fully appreciate the value of IP-based systems; after all, this is the career they’ve chosen. However, not all are as open and willing to share “their” resources with the physical security department. It’s your job to be upfront about their concerns and find appropriate ways to address them. When framing your argument, use the same terminology that IT professionals use so that there’s no miscommunication (See “IP Speak for Technicians,” by Steve Surfaro, August 2009 issue of Security Dealer & Integrator).

So what are the basic network concerns that most IT folks have?

Bandwidth consumption

Network storage

Computing requirements

IT security risks


Debunking the bandwidth hog myth: 5 arguments to win over IT

When it comes to bandwidth, some network professionals believe video is a voracious application—one that will consume all the available bandwidth. But IP video surveillance is different than the video they are used to dealing with:

Surveillance video is locally-generated content and in most cases doesn’t leave the network where it was created. In other words, the lobby camera being viewed by the security guard only traverses the local area network (LAN), which is the company’s largest and least expensive pipeline. The negative network performance impact that IT fears from video comes from employees downloading or streaming clips from external sites like online news outlets, YouTube and—a connection that happens to be the smallest and most expensive bandwidth a company utilizes.

Unlike an Internet download, surveillance video can be segmented from other production data either physically or logically using Virtual LANs (VLANs). This prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.

Each IP camera on the network can be customized for specific performance to meet not only the physical security needs, but also the company’s network and storage guidelines. Once IT understands that video streams can be tailored to preferred frame rates, resolution, compressions and events-based actions, they’ll realize that IP video surveillance is very much a controllable application.

The standard for edge-based connectivity is 100Mbps. Surveillance video is generally recorded at six frames per second (fps), which puts the bit rate under 1Mbps. IP video surveillance represents only a fraction of the available bandwidth.

If the objection concerns the aggregate impact of multiple video streams, simply do the math. For 20 cameras set up to dual stream (one stream for viewing, the other for recording), each camera would generate 7Mbps. Multiply that by 20 and you have 140Mbps—the total amount of bandwidth needed to view and record all 20 network cameras. This represents less than 15 percent of a one gigabit uplink, which has been a standard feature in network switches for the past decade.

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