Technology Roundtable: IP Video

Sept. 9, 2014
Five experts weigh in on the progression of the market, the latest product features and much more

No single technological innovation has had a greater impact on the video surveillance market than IP. As the market reaches and passes the sales tipping point from analog to predominantly IP, factors from product features, to target markets and customers are gradually changing and evolving.

For the security dealers and integrators who are selling, installing and recommending/specifying these technologies, it is imperative to stay on top of the latest trends, news and product features.

SD&I sat down with five IP video experts — four vendors and one expert on standardization — to get their insights on the continuing transition from analog to IP; the most effective features that your customers are looking for and how to sell them; target markets and customers and more in this exclusive technology roundtable.

The Roundtable Panel

  • Per Björkdahl, Chairman, Steering Committee, ONVIF
  • Jeff Hobbs, Senior Product Manager, American Dynamics (Tyco Security Products)
  • Kenichi Mori, Director, Sony Electronics Security Systems Division
  • Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager – North America, Axis Communications
  • Willem Ryan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Avigilon

SD&I: Has it gotten to the point where dealers/integrators and end-users are now purchasing more IP video products than analog CCTV?

Nilsson: IP video makes up more than half of the video surveillance market, counted in dollars. However, when you look at the number of cameras out in the world today, only about 30 percent are network cameras. That means that 70 percent are still analog! IP cameras have become the de facto choice for enterprise systems and the market is increasingly competitive for mid-size systems, so why the wide gap? Analog’s stronghold has traditionally been small systems (16 cameras or less), and if you think about the thousands of convenience stores, gas stations, banks, etc., you can start to see why 70 percent remains analog. The good news is that this too is starting to change as IP solutions for small systems become more affordable and accessible with local storage and hosting.

Hobbs: The industry is starting to see the purchase of IP video products outpace analog systems. The main reasons for this are that price points have gone down and installation is easier than ever. The lower costs of bandwidth and hardware savings make it a cost effective solution. Also, the knowledge base of integrators has increased and end users are becoming more educated, contributing to the widespread use of IP-based surveillance solutions.

Mori: We’ve certainly seen demand for IP video products increase significantly. The majority of our new product development is focused on IP, as are all our recent strategic alliances with third parties. The industry is clearly moving to IP, but for customers who have not made the change still we will support their analog efforts.

Ryan: According to by IHS Research, revenue from IP cameras is now overtaking that of analog. In our experience, this growth is even further divided between high-definition and standard definition products. It is the move to high-definition and megapixel cameras that is truly driving the overall growth of IP products.

Björkdahl: From the standards perspective, I believe that initiatives like ONVIF have helped the industry in this evolution by providing an independent, future proof path for the migration of existing analog systems.

What are the best selling points that dealers/integrators can make when it comes to encouraging a customer to make the transition?

Mori: IP video offers users so many more capabilities than analog. It supports HD and 4K resolutions, delivers better light sensitivity and supports wide dynamic range. Installation is easier and less expensive. An organization can manage IP networks centrally, and the process of recording video is more user-friendly, so you are able to use the data you collect more effectively. The coming leap to 4K creates the need for enhanced color reproduction and better contrast. Equally important to consider is how easy the system is to customize to meet individual needs.

Hobbs: The biggest selling point is that an IP camera allows for high-definition imagery. IP video products can cover larger areas and regions of interest, with fewer cameras.

Ryan: Image detail is an important point to highlight. Footage from an HD solution can be used as evidence in contrast to the grainy analog footage that was common in the past. Ease-of-use is also a key factor. Mobile access is another important consideration and a key benefit enabling users to respond more effectively and reduce false alarms.

Nilsson: One key selling point is scalability and ultimately total cost of ownership. If you need to add one camera to your analog solution but already maxed out your 4-, 8-, or 16-channel DVR, you have to purchase another DVR. Add to that the additional costs associated with materials, labor and disruption to daily operations and it’s an expensive undertaking. Also, DVRs will generally need to be replaced twice before the cameras reach end of life. On the other hand, IP-based systems are far more scalable and flexible. You would be able to add just one (or thousands if you needed) and leverage the existing IP infrastructure, especially with larger systems.

Are there sweet-spot markets where IP video is more effective?

Hobbs: The eight-camera (and under) space is one of the biggest sweet spots for the deployment of IP video. Ease of deployment and lower cost has made IP video an option for more environments, and the adoption in retail has been tremendous. In addition, we’re seeing adoption in the banking, quick service and hospitality industries. The transportation industry is benefitting with the use of high-definition and analytics, and education is using IP video.

Nilsson: There are solutions that meet all types of needs. IP video first found its stronghold in large-scale systems, and it continues to be the logical choice for enterprise; however, we’ve seen new products and solutions that target the mid-size and even small system market as well. Thanks to hosted video, easy-to-use software and more cost-effective cameras and encoders, IP video is now ideal for use in segments that were historically analog-based.

Ryan: With the evolution of the Internet of Things, our world is more connected today than ever, but until recently, the surveillance industry was not a part of this phenomenon. The proliferation of IP surveillance enables our industry to be more connected and have instant access to our monitoring systems; thus IP video is equally effective in all vertical markets. Still, some are making the transition to IP more quickly than others.

What should dealer/integrators be looking for when choosing an IP video vendor partner?

Ryan: It is important to choose an IP video vendor partner that offers high-quality, user-friendly products at a competitive price. Excellent customer service and support is also crucial. Dealers and integrators should look for vendors who offer excellent technical support and comprehensive training that is easily accessible and available in multiple languages, if necessary. Finally, it is important to choose a partner that offers a solution that is open, scalable and can easily be customized.

Mori: In terms of product offerings, look for image quality resolution, performance, all the characteristics you’d want in a new technology; also look for diversity of product lines. From a vendor partner, consider their reputation, the breadth of their internal sales and distribution network, and of course, if they offer products that best fit the intended application. Another item to consider: does the vendor have a strong relationship VMS companies, because that will be a big factor in your ability to manage content efficiently.

Nilsson: Beyond reliable and quality products, integrators should look for experienced vendors who truly offer a partnership. Many have partner programs and invest both time and resources into developing the joint business and maintaining long-term relationships. Be sure to choose a vendor with a wide educational offering and a dedication to educating the market. It is important for integrators to stay up to date not only on the products, but also the technologies through trainings and certification.

Hobbs: The ideal partner is someone who is concerned with making an end-to-end system work and understands how the data flows from camera, to network, to hard disks and beyond. It’s important to have a partner who can give the integrator access to maintenance and global deployment support. The vendor’s warranty and the terms of the warranty also may be deciding factors when choosing a partner.

What are your dealer/integrator partners telling you their customers are asking for as far as IP video features and functionality?

Björkdahl: This varies from case to case but what we understand is that integration with other systems is one of the primary drivers.

Hobbs: Customers want to do more with their investment. They want to use cameras not only for security, but to automate their systems and reduce day-to-day costs. They also want to use their systems for after-hours monitoring and to support operational efficiencies. 

Ryan: While our partners have welcomed IP video, the high-resolution footage delivered results in increased bandwidth on a system. As such, our partners require solutions that will maintain image quality while minimizing bandwidth across networks. Our partners are also asking for true end-to-end solutions that offer a deeper integration of access control and video surveillance.

Nilsson: Overall, customers want greater image quality with higher resolution, wide dynamic range, low light technology, etc., in addition to features such as remote access and form factor. It can also vary based on the type and size of the system. In small and mid-sized systems, customers want a system that is easy to use, install and maintain, while customers with enterprise systems are looking for flexibility, scalability and integration with other systems. With analytics, these systems can be used for more than just security, from marketing to operations and other business intelligence.

As a vendor, how can you make your IP video product more attractive in the bid/spec process?

Mori: We have a responsibility to the industry to communicate the benefits and applications of our products.  Proper product education — whether it’s through one-on-one meetings, webinars at trade shows, or all of the above — benefits everyone. A big, sometimes overlooked, component of the education process is the reasoning that went into the pricing strategy of a particular product, or how the distribution models work. Easy-to-use spec documentation also makes everyone’s job easier.

Hobbs: Following open standards makes our products more attractive. An example of this is our Underwriting Laboratories’ (UL) 1076 certification — the standard for proprietary burglar alarm systems —which is crucial when working with customers who use an operation center to manage multiple unified video, burglar and access control systems. Protection from cyber attacks is critical, so that is a key factor in making products appealing.

Björkdahl: More and more consultants, as well as end-users, are including ONVIF conformance as a requirement for products as part of the specification process. For many projects, the ONVIF specification provides a high degree of future proofing because as long as the products meet a specific ONVIF profile, new technology can be introduced or products can be replaced that still maintain the same communications interface.

Nilsson: As a vendor, it is important to be transparent. This means being open and collaborative with consultants, as well as providing well-documented functionality and specifications. Just as education is important to dealers and integrators, it is equally important to provide the right resources for consultants such as design tools and support.

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of SD&I magazine (