Video Storage and Recording – Past, Present and Future

Video recording has evolved from grade school (VHS) to a MBA program (NVR) faster than you can say, “I didn’t save enough for my kids’ college!” In the beginning, digital video recorders (DVRs) were typically nodal (single site) devices that recorded, searched and displayed eight to 16 cameras on a standard computer video interface. The experience was still initially “security” oriented, but gradually migrated to more of a “computer experience” making the man/machine interface more productive.

DVR’s had some inherent limitations due to the speed of product development and computer operating programs that were selected to run video applications. In the rush to develop new features, developers lost sight of long-term impact of computer security issues. The effect of this oversight compounded itself when network video recorders (NVRs) hit the scene shortly after the DVR revolution. Now there was a device that expanded the concept of storage in a local (nodal) environment to a network centric appliance that may be global, which changed how video could be stored and accessed depending upon access privileges and network scale.

Digital Video Recorder
  There are now hundreds of DVR manufacturers with a wide variety of products and features, many specializing in solutions by size, location, lighting conditions, number of cameras, etc. Some variants allow ready Internet viewing of video scenes captured through common Web browsers. A built-in DVD-burning device for making copies of recorded videos is also an option today.

A digital system allows for auditing of activity through monitor screen menus and for images to be retrieved as easily as opening a file; using criteria such as date, time, location, camera number, etc. By storing video data in a digital file format, critical video is easily replicable, transferable and viewable across various formats. An important operational issue is the ability to quickly transfer video data into usable portable data for law enforcement or first responders and/or for investigation purposes.

DVRs are usually scalable and upgradeable by utilizing specific software. They typically have video capture circuits or cards that can process 60, 120, 240 and 480 frames per second. These numbers represent the total number of frames per second that can be accommodated for all of the cameras or channels per system.

Network Video Recording
When using IP surveillance, the recording function is said to be performed by a NVR, which is a PC server loaded with video recording software. This technology is flexible and provides excellent features. A NVR is a digital video recording solution that works over a TCP/IP network. IP addressable network cameras and/or video servers transmit images over a LAN, WAN or across the Internet. NVR technology is cost efficient, and with IT concepts such as Storage Area Networks (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS), capacity can reach the terabyte range in a cost effective manner because IT departments buy storage capacity efficiently.

The NVR accesses the data streams of the remote network cameras and video servers and stores them on hard disks or distributed storage. Even though this technology is typically backward compatible with most legacy analog CCTV equipment, more and more network cameras that can interface directly to IT-style Ethernet networks are being used today. Edge devices (IP cameras) can choose how they deliver video data that requires immediate response and what needs to be stored for later review. Software versioning managed by the IT department must be carefully considered in any NVR solution. How will IT security policies be managed on the network device? The impact on network security can be substantial from a cost, liability and operational perspective.

The Cost of IP Video Can Vary Widely
IP video has made incredible strides in the last 10 years as far as capabilities and affordability is concerned. The biggest advantages are remote management of edge devices by the IT department, which lowers the overall cost of system ownership, allows for flexibility for application migration and lowers overall installation cost when you factor in power over Ethernet (PoE) implementations.

Ten years ago there were less than five IP camera manufacturers, now there are 150+ manufacturers offering bare bones to high end, feature rich, analytics enriched edge devices. Pricing can range from as high as $1,995 to as low as $300, and you pretty much get what you pay for in terms of quality and feature sets. Now think of the DVR as a hardware/software product that is scaled to a specific number of cameras and recording length. They come in super low costs to ultra high costs (ranging from less than $400 to $12,000). Add per video stream software costs for advanced feature sets and pricing becomes even higher.

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About the Author

Paul Boucherle

Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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