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Taking A Closer Look At The True Cost Of Centralised Nvr Based Cctv June 23, 2009

Posted by fermorm in Uncategorized.

We believe users should take a close look at the real, vs. imagined, merits of the differing approaches to CCTV in an IP environment. In recent years security and IT managers across the globe have been bombarded by enticing claims from vendors regarding the ROI (Return On Investment) that they could expect to realise if they chose to adopt a centralised Network Video Recorder (NVR) based CCTV solution. On the surface the inflated claims of some IP camera/NVR (Network Video Recorder) proponents, left unchallenged, have invariably played a key role in influencing buying decisions. The reality, we would contend, for those swayed by such arguments has not always been as straightforward as the widely promoted figures may at first have suggested.

Uncovering the Infrastructure Challenges In fact with IP-only systems there are often hidden costs associated with the need for an expensive network upgrade to cope with the new demands placed on an organisation’s IP infrastructure. Without such enhancements many solutions struggle to reach anywhere near the quoted performance levels. On the ground some end users have become so disillusioned with the whole process that they are even contemplating replacing installed IP cameras with traditional analogue models to overcome their ongoing network problems.

Alongside this, given the current economic conditions, the preferred or practical route for end users is not necessarily going to be the wholesale replacement of a large legacy population of analogue cameras and control equipment with solely IP systems. Rather we suspect, moving forward, what is likely to prove more realistic, deliverable, and offer a better long-term ROI is a hybrid route for CCTV by allowing systems, both analogue and digital, to grow seamlessly in line with the end user’s future surveillance needs.

 When it comes to the recording, transmission and storage of CCTV in the IP environment we have consistently advocated a distributed or decentralised server model, with Dedicated Micros latest DV-IP Server being a case in point.

Distributed Surveillance

It needs to be made clear that we are not against IP CCTV in fact, DV-IP actually stands for Distributed Video over IP and DM have been providing IP Video solutions for over 10 years. Rather the rationale behind our approach is driven by a number of key considerations which ultimately, we feel, deliver a high level of performance, whilst minimising set-up and infrastructure costs and, crucially, provides an all important safety net in the event of unexpected network failure.

We do not advocate, for instance, that end users should be placed in a position where they automatically need to invest in a costly, high speed, backbone so their network can cope with the new CCTV infrastructure. As a consequence AD Group NetVu Connected solutions – including those from Dedicated Micros – come with features such as TransCoding technology which allow users to capture, view and playback high definition images on the local LAN whilst simultaneously streaming bandwidth optimised images to remote users without impacting the network.

Additionally by taking a distributed, de-centralised approach – with multi-node architecture – where recording actually takes place at the edge of the network on the hard drive of a unit such as with the DV-IP Server it is possible, in most cases, to support fail safe continuous recording with on demand access to all parts of the system. This is a critical advantage compared to pure IP/NVR solutions which are totally reliant on the status of the network for their ongoing operation. Any network downtime will, consequently, have a detrimental impact on their ability to function and to capture all important digital video evidence.

 This is an opportune moment to take a more detailed look at the IP/NVR (Network Video Recorder) concept and compare and contrast this, in terms of potential costs, with what Dedicated Micros currently offers with regards to a distributed, embedded, alternative.

Challenging the IP/NVR Agenda

When it comes to the evolution of the IP camera market, the element which has played a key role in its evolution is the NVR (Network Video Recorder). This has been developed very much from an IT rather than security centric position, however it is a flawed model for a 24 hour failsafe environment. The IP Camera/NVR model is totally dependent on the integrity of the network for recording, viewing and playback.

Although the costs of the IP cameras themselves have been coming down in recent times to around $520 (£361) per camera – according to JP Freeman – there is the cost of a typical software license for a NVR/Video Management System (VMS) to be considered which can be from £10k to £50k for systems of between 50 and 750 cameras. Where the large-scale costs really hit home is when we look at a typical high performance IT server capable of handling 32 channels of video at5 fps (frames per second).

Beyond this, should analytics be required as part of the surveillance solution, then realistically another server is going to be needed for every four channels of video – each channel must be decoded in realtime within each server before the analytics can be performed.

In fact, in a recent system tender for an IP/NVR based solution by a leading supplier, the individual licence costs per camera, plus the per camera share of the failover server costs exceeded the complete embedded server hardware costs, without separate licences, and then of course the servers, network attached storage and all the other hidden costs as well still to be added.

So back to the potential costs of the example above, looking at a 750 camera system may require around 24 servers – if analytics are excluded – and a maximum of 211 if it is required. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are also high network integrity requirements to be considered, alongside the need for storage above and beyond that provided through the servers, so this has to be accommodated through other elements such as Network Attached Storage. The upshot of all this is, not surprisingly, a potential capital requirement of approximately £1.8 million and that is only at 5 fps (frames per second).

This is in contrast to what, we are confident, can be achieved in an IP or hybrid model distributed to our new DV-IP Servers. At less than £5k per server, and 48 servers, the project could be delivered for a basic cost below £250k. If full frame rate DI recording performance is required then using DV-IP RT 16 channel units the base equipment cost is still compares favourably at approximately £600k

The lesson for security and IT managers is to be wary of vendors who claim that they can provide a dream IP/NVR solution for just the £50k license fee, as we have shown above in extreme cases this could result in equipment costs of nearly £1.8 million simply to provide the infrastructure to support the required performance levels. Placed in context this certainly makes our hybrid DV-IP solution at c£250k an extremely attractive option and for those looking for even higher performance with real time DI images and the DV-IP HD for under £600k is certainly a realistic proposition. There is a growing realisation, as the above figures demonstrate, that the network dependency and real system costs of a pure IP/NVR solution mean it is simply not a commercially viable option in many scenarios.

Another pitfall for a software only NVR/IP approach is its ability – or rather inability – to deal with a need to display multiple full frame rate D1 images together. Realistically a high specification IT server is typically only capable of displaying between four and eight MPEG-4 streams and as little as four AVC streams.

This compares to a solution we can offer with an embedded decoder, inside our distributed servers, each giving 48 full rate D1 streams to two HDMI displays, or 16 full D1 AVC decodes.

Also there is a popular misconception that video walls can only be achieved with the PC/NVR environment on multiple PC’s into a video wall controller, the reality is that embedded multi-screen decoders offer far more powerful, robust cost effective solutions.

A New Approach with the ICR

So where do we go from here? Well the position we have held at Dedicated Micros over many years is that analogue and hybrid analogue/IP distributed servers offer a cost effective and reliable solution. We still feel that this holds true, particularly given the cost of ownership issues highlighted above.

Having said the above we also recognise that there are some specifiers and end users out there who, what ever we say, are fundamentally committed to an IP only model. They may see even our latest IP enabled solutions, such as the DV-IP HD, as still reminiscent of previous DVR-based solutions – although we certainly beg to differ on that point. As a consequence there is a growing momentum in the marketplace, we believe, for a distributed or decentralised model based around an IP camera which actually pulls together all of the key elements of effective CCTV in one single unit. This is something have actively pursued and can now offer the Integral Camera Recorder (ICR).

The Integral Camera Recorder (ICR) which we have developed at Dedicated Micros comprises a full, enterprise grade, server – similar to those in our DV-IP range – integrated within an IP camera, ensuring that recording can be maintained regardless of the IP status of a network, this fits in with our distributed or de-centralised approach to CCTV recording. In terms of the storage of CCTV images by the ICR we hope to be able to achieve this in three ways. Firstly through internal storage which could take the form of one or more SD/CF cards, typically providing a maximum rate and resolution for one or more days.

As well as the internal solid state storage, by microSD card or similar, the ICR can also utilise further tiered storage, including a locally connected SATA drive over ATA Over Ethernet (AoE) which will continue to operate, even in the event of complete failure of the TCP/IP architecture and infrastructure network level failures. The images can also be centrally recorded and archived in parallel in the same manner as an NVR based solution – but with all the high availability network risks completely mitigated.



1. Access Control System Chennai - July 9, 2009

This is nice article about security product…. They used different techniques in security using cctv…. good going…


2. CCTV in chennai - July 10, 2009

I too saying that… this is a nice article… Nvr based cctv do good for the organizations…

Suresh Kumar

3. controlware - December 8, 2009

To learn more about CCTV sign up to the Linkedin CCTV group to discuss all aspects of CCTV security including surveillance, technology, case studies, news and the latest opinions.


4. Fraurastada - December 9, 2009

Lots of of people talk about this subject but you wrote down some true words!

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