What's your opinion on the state of integration?

What’s your opinion on the state of integration?

There has been a lot of talk about video and integrated systems standards, because in my opinion, we need them to move ahead to total convergence. Organizations like ONVIF and PSIA and others have been taking the lead—and emphasizing open systems and integration and the value it brings to the installation community.  Word has it that BICSI, the information transport/infrastructure organization that also creates standards will release a standard this fall based on its new Electronic Safety and Security (ESS) program and the accompanying same-named credential. It too focuses on surveillance systems, but also includes access control, intrusion detection, fire systems, notification, communications, network security, systems integration and project management as well as other criteria to execute a complete design solution.

Recently Mark S. Wilson, vice president of Marketing for Infinova contacted SD&I magazine about ONVIF and why he feels many surveillance vendors will emphasize ONVIF this year. So I asked him to guest column a blog on the topic, and here are his insights and opinions below: 

“There is simply no question about it. End-users want the increased benefits of digital/IP video.  But they (whether end-user or integrator) run into big roadblocks on their journey from analog to digital.  With digital surveillance, it is no longer simple to mix and match analog cameras and DVR brands. With digital, the basic components of a network video system are often non-standard, including the IP camera, network video recorder (NVR) and video management software (VMS).

Integrators have been tearing their hair out because, seemingly, every digital camera vendor has created a separate camera interface.  Oh, yes, there are standards in the networked surveillance industry— compression (H.264, MPEG-4) and streaming (RTSP), for example—but control and command interfaces are not standard yet.  Thus, software and NVR manufacturers must create camera-specific interfaces to their solutions. 

The good old days of analog plug-and-play are of the past.  Now, there is the challenge of interoperability among hardware to hardware and hardware to software implementations.  As a result, many integrators are hesitant to promote digital surveillance solutions even though their customers want them.

To help, leading VMS vendors, including Milestone and Video Insight, have integrated hundreds of cameras and encoders into their platforms.  Even so, integration between devices is lacking.  For instance, the software supports some features on one camera but not on another. 

Again, it is the integrator that’s on the line, having to determine if and how much interoperability there is between the selected software, cameras and recorders.  This is the crux of why ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) has become so important.

If a product carries ONVIF certification, integration is standardized.  ONVIF certified products work with other ONVIF certified products.  If the integrator and end-user agree on using only ONVIF certified products, we are on our way back to the plug-and-play world of analog.


ONVIF is real.  It provides a standard to address interoperability problems in network video, including such important needs as defining interfaces for device configuration, event handling, PTZ control and similar issues.  Most importantly, it has been embraced by the great majority of digital/IP manufacturers, software and hardware.  This will be verified by a quick stroll through most of the leading events globally.  Booth after booth will tout ONVIF certification.”

Editor’s note: I invite others to add to this discussion. Let’s make it lively! Please contact me at Deborah.omara@cygnusb2b.com to provide me with your insights regarding the road to standards, open systems and integration.