Video Surveillance: Killer App or Network Killer? - Page 2

Video surveillance is moving away from dedicated networks and becoming an IP-based megabyte bandwidth hog. Is your network up to task?, asks Jim Frey of Enterprise Management Associates.

By Enterprise Networking Planet Contributor | Posted Mar 26, 2012
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Video surveillance

As if all of those weren’t enough to disturb the slumber of the average network manager, there is yet another participant in this drama: video surveillance.

This technology has continued to evolve alongside all other types of video delivered across the network. Dedicated systems still exist, however, most are moving to digital IP-based video so that common networking infrastructure can be used to harvest feeds from multiple cameras simultaneously and deliver them to a centralized digital archive. The network impact of surveillance cameras can range widely, varying primarily along the lines of resolution and frame rate, but can easily consume as much bandwidth as a high-end telepresence CODEC.

A recent announcement by Cisco Systems highlights this. Their new Cisco Video Surveillance (CVS) Manager for UCS Express is intended for branch offices, and supports a maximum of 32 cameras at a bit-stream rate of 1 Mbps, or 15 cameras at 2 Mbps or seven cameras at 4 Mbps. By this summer, they will be offering a full CVS for UCS version targeting data center deployments that will be capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of cameras, according to Geetha Dabir, vice president of Cisco’s physical security business unit.

First of all, the concept of hundreds or thousands of cameras all streaming their feeds to a central archiving location should raise an eyebrow. Then consider that even some of those cameras are running at 4 Mbps, potentially from remote sites, and it is time for calling all hands on deck. Realistically, those high data rates will be used primarily within local remote sites, and not sent across any WAN links, but even if you deploy 100 cameras at 4 Mbps in and around a campus with a data center, you are generating nearly half a gigabyte of traffic just for streaming surveillance video.

Fortunately, this is not true real-time video. There is buffering built into most systems, but the essential translation is that surveillance video can generate just as much or even more than other types of video. To get the value out of the investment in high-resolution video surveillance, network managers will have to reserve bandwidth to assure that this traffic is successfully captured by the central storage archive.

The bottom line is that there's a new digital sheriff in town, and that sheriff’s salary could be bandwidth, and lots of it. If you are a network manager, it may be time to have a conversation with your physical security chief to see what lies in store for you and your network.

Jim Frey is a research director at Enterprise Management Associates. Jim has over 24 years of experience in the computing industry developing, deploying, managing, and marketing software and hardware products, with the last 18 of those years spent in network management, straddling both enterprise and service provider sectors. At Enterprise Management Associates, Jim is responsible for the Network Management practice area. Prior to joining EMA, Jim spent six years with NetScout Systems as vice president of Marketing.

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