Legacy Video Surveillance Solutions are Giving Way to new IP Cameras that Use Networked Storage

About 40 years ago, high-tech video surveillance consisted of closed-circuit television (CCTV) that had to be monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Then came the move to video cassette recorders (VCRs) with analog video capture, which helped bring about a revolution of video surveillance in the ’70s. But just as all of us movie buffs have figured out, VCR tapes eventually wear out, tear or become unmanageable, and the same occurs with video surveillance tapes. While there are many new features in tape-based video recording, such as charged-coupled device (CCD), digital multiplexing as well as time-lapse and motion-only recording, the ability to digitally record data to network-attached storage is starting to takeoff and, as it does create a more scalable solution for video surveillance.

Recording data to disk accomplishes two highly attractive things for video surveillance. First, the burden of tape management is eliminated. Tapes can go bad after as few as 10 uses plus using disk eliminates the manual task of changing tapes. Second, digitally recording data to disk opens the possibilities for additional features, such as time-based retrieval, video enhancement and face recognition, to name a few. But to take advantage of these new capabilities, most companies need to overhaul their current video surveillance and backend storage infrastructure.

A prime example of using legacy surveillance system with limited effectiveness involves one of the largest financial institutions in Australia. This financial institution’s video surveillance system, which consisted of analog cameras and a PC-based digital video recorder (DVR), was unable to scale without the purchase of another DVR. Making matters worse, the DVR was Windows-based and, for internal security reasons, was prohibited from being connected to the corporate network. This meant the surveillance system was separate and therefore excluded from normal administrative maintenance, such as patches, upgrades and backups. This created an island that became increasingly isolated and problematic over time.

Further, viewing the low-resolution images was time consuming and cumbersome since it required the use of low-bandwidth phone lines. The institution realized its current analog components were dramatically behind the times and that this gap would become more pronounced as video surveillance needs increased.

To bring its system up-to-date, the company selected Mobotix IP network cameras and Overland Snap Servers as complimentary technologies to address the issues. The Mobotix IP cameras can be directly attached to corporate networks and include sufficient network awareness so the company could point them directly at network-attached Overland Storage Snap Servers.

To better track activities on its premises, the company more than doubled its number of cameras, to 33 from the previous number of 16. The pixel images of these cameras offer 12 times more resolution than the financial institution’s old analog cameras and capture two frames per second by default. If unusual movements are detected, the system can be configured to capture up to six frames per second while providing the flexibility to zoom on suspicious activity with true color and facial feature detail. Since each Mobotix IP camera can attach to and recognize network attached storage, the cameras were deployed in three groups of 11 with each group assigned to one of three network-attached Overland Storage Snap Server 110 storage systems. This was done to balance capacity and performance workloads.

Since Overland’s Snap Server is a network fileserver, the Mobotix cameras can independently access them using either CIFS or NFS protocols over standard Ethernet networks. Further adding to the appeal of the Snap Server, its Linux-based file system is tuned and optimized for random writes. This is needed for multiple cameras to independently and concurrently write video data to them.

CCTV and tape-based video surveillance systems are completely out of date when considering the requirements that companies now have coupled with the recent advancements in camera, networking and storage technologies. As this Australian financial institution discovered, the combination of Overland Storage and Mobotix replaced out-of-date hardware with state-of-the-art technology. The new system connects directly to the corporate LAN, can be easily managed through intelligent Mobotix cameras, provides scalability with the Overland Snap Servers and allows for future growth.

The advancements in video technology coupled with heightened corporate concerns about security are spurring dramatic increases in the interest and adoption of IP cameras, which offer high resolution digital images far superior to their analog counterparts. This new, complimentary combination of Mobotix IP cameras and Overland Storage Snap Server storage systems offer companies for the first time a means to smoothly transition to this new world of digitally recorded data without requiring excessive expertise or IT staff to manage and maintain the process for the short- or long-term.


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