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Are We There Yet? The Journey to Interoperability

End-user demand for interoperable systems and unified interfaces is a key driver in this evolution; however, it is also easing integrator challenges and affording manufacturers new opportunities.

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What Ever Happened to ‘Plug-N-Play’?

While ONVIF has continued to refine its role, there is recognition that out-of-the-box, plug-and-play is difficult to achieve. Integrators or third-party vendors are still going to be needed to write the software interfaces addressing those unique features that need to be made compatible.

ONVIF operates on the 80/20 rule, acknowledging that its core rules will cover 80% of a specification, but there will still be 20% that needs to be addressed independent from the profiles. This allows integrators the freedom to innovate and differentiate their solutions in the security market.

By providing the core set of features as part of a profile, ONVIF is freeing integrators and vendors to focus on bringing additional features needed to provide a robust solution. ONVIF also provides methods for integrators and manufacturers to develop extensions to employ custom features within the ONVIF framework.

In addition, ONVIF enables products to support multiple profiles where possible, such as a camera with onboard storage implementing both Profile S and G, to further extend the interoperability features.

Putting ONVIF to Use

At its twice-a-year developers’ “plug-fests,” ONVIF has incorporated scenario-based testing, which allows a client — connected with multiple devices such as IP cameras and/or NVRs — to verify its ONVIF interoperability based on end-user scenarios.

The plugfests have also given ONVIF the opportunity to introduce the newest profiles to product developers. At a recent plugfest in San Diego, more than 300 hours of product assessments took place over a three-day period involving about 60 people. Along with continued testing of Profile S, developers delved into recording-related product tests for Profile G.

The newest improvement toward the focus on compliance is the requirement for companies to provide an interface guide. These guides will provide a consistent set of information related to a device or client. The guide, which became a required part of the conformance process Jan. 1, not only outlines what steps are needed to install and login to the device or client, but it directs users on where to go to find additional support information. This information should help to ensure that interoperability is quicker and easier. ONVIF will make these guides available on its Web site.

Also coming soon, ONVIF is starting work on an ONVIF Client Test Tool. While ensuring interoperability among vendors’ products is important to the vendor community, ONVIF recognizes that integrators and architects and engineers (A&Es) are the ones creating and implementing the security systems. Thus the organization is committed to easing the burden of product interoperability and providing the standard interfaces the community needs.

Scott Hudson is Vice Chairman of the Technical Services Committee for ONVIF, and also serves as the Standards Lead at Pelco by Schneider Electric. He can be reached at [email protected]


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Article Topics
Systems Integration · Interoperability · ONVIF · All Topics

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