IP Storage in a Physical Security World

Video surveillance-optimized IP retention systems eliminate the challenges found in a typical network security environment. An IP environment cuts the number of servers, storage platforms, and infrastructure by up to 70% and it saves as much or more in

Unlike cyber and network security where IT technology adoption is common, physical security is largely an analog world of unconnected technology islands. Enter IP storage, a technology whose time has come within manufacturers' physical security environments.

Internet Protocol (IP) storage link data storage devices over a network and transfers data by carrying SCSI commands over IP networks. It is known as a reliable and inexpensive data transfer alternative. In the video surveillance market, IP storage reduces the time and cost of implementing CCTV DVR upgrades and optimizing video surveillance IP retention by bringing RAID protection and hot-swap components to eliminate video loss.

IP cameras were the first to enter the network security market. Although carrying a higher unit price than their analog counterparts, IP cameras offer better resolution and imaging capabilities and reduce the number of cameras, resulting in superior coverage. Network video recorders (NVRs) were developed to record the imagery from these IP devices, recording multiple digital video streams with larger, higher resolution files requiring more network bandwidth and storage. A wide variety of vendors including camera, NVR, video management system, physical security, information managers, video analytics and product have sprung up as part of a new ecosystem, accounting for as much as 15% of the surveillance market.

Compared with coax cabling used by most CCTV surveillance systems, IP offers a lower cost per foot of infrastructure including less expensive cabling, reduced installation costs and easier troubleshooting. In addition IP enables the introduction of new benefits and features for retail, supply chain and manufacturing monitoring, access control, life safety, biometrics and authentication systems.

Digital benefits are multiplied by the increased reliability and lower costs that IP and storage consolidation bring to the technology islands of CCTV and DVRs. In fact, DVRs are not unlike the IT world of the 1980s with individual stand alone systems the order of the day.

DVRs are typically based on a PC-grade motherboard, power supply and one to four disk drives, combined with an analog-to-digital converter. Most lack RAID support and fewer still offer hot-swap components or drives, so that when a component fails the entire DVR stops recording and video is lost from all attached cameras.

More than 50% of DVRs will fail in their lifetime and will be returned to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. And when the DVR leaves the premises, the video goes with it. That leaves the organization at risk of SOX, HIPPAA and other compliance and legal issues should the information and video it contains make it onto a social networking site, be used in identity theft, or be otherwise viewed and distributed in an unauthorized manner.

IP storage brings RAID protection and hot-swap components to eliminate video loss. The best video surveillance-optimized systems also bring the ability to operate unattended 24 x 7 x 365, able to handle non-stop video streaming of non-sequential video, without downtime or planned maintenance periods.

The Benefits of IP

The resulting quantity of scale dramatically reduces retention cost per terabyte while simplifying administration and upkeep.

With all of the benefits of IP, you might wonder why more than 70% of video surveillance continues to be analog based. In part, this slow move can be attributed to very conservative security departments and physical security product life cycles that stretch for decades rather than the much shorter times afforded to IT systems.

In the past there was never a pressing need to move to IP except for the most demanding environments. Most IP installations to date have been for new installs while security departments have been unwilling to rip-and-replace their existing, functioning security systems simply to gain new features.

Today, times have changed. The physical security marketplace has been largely recession-proof while other departments face increasing budget pressure. Protection of assets, after all, remains a priority for most organizations.

The current global economic uncertainty, combined with ever increasing security demands, has for the first time forced security departments to consider how best to cut costs while adding new capabilities.

A new generation of IP storage solutions has arrived to address these requirements. Instead of the rip-and-replacement of functioning analog systems, today's Video Data Management and Retention (VDMR) solutions can leverage those existing analog cameras, DVRs and cabling, while also delivering the benefits of IP. That is all possible for less than the cost of a new IP deployment.

These IP retention systems are specifically designed to support 90% of the video surveillance demands of the non-stop write workload, rather than the balanced read/write mix of traditional IT systems. That specific performance capability combined with the re-use of an existing analog infrastructure provides a greener solution to the security department and saves money while gaining IP benefits.

DVRs, NVRs and IP cameras can all write to the video retention system, delivering quantity of scale for a reduced price per terabyte. Such a consolidation quickly pays for itself, with a pair of DVRs often requiring 25% less retention capacity and five DVRs requiring about half as much as before. Should a DVR fail, the video is retained on the shared retention system and a new DVR can be plugged in. The DVR can be returned for service, without concern over what might be contained on its disk drives. If an NVR fails, the video can be set to automatically switch over without even a pause in recording. And, should a disk drive or power supply fail in the IP storage system, it can be replaced without halting recording or any video loss.

Best of all, the risk-adverse security department can learn the ins and outs of IP without full dependence on the new technology. The user experience is unchanged other than better video quality and longer retention periods without risk of lost imagery. As analog technology is superannuated with age, it can be gracefully replaced with new IP devices and new retention capacity added modularly for a future-proof security environment.

Digital technology also provides new opportunities to IT. Infrastructure sharing and leveraging each other's expertise can deliver more cost effective solutions with additional benefits for the organization as a whole as well as for the security and IT departments.

Jeff Whitney is vice-president of marketing and business development for Intransa. He has more than twenty years experience in the physical security, network security and IT industry. Intransa spun off from 3Com and has been providing Video Data Management and Retention (VDMR) solutions since 2001. http://www.intransa.com/


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