NVRs should be a bridge for the end-user to access all the advantages of IP connectivity
NVR appliances are increasingly important
businesses incorporating a well-rounded
physical security plan 

A major, oft-mentioned advantage of network video recorder (NVR) appliances is their ease of installation and use. These machines come pre-installed with software and are as close to plug-and-play as you can get in the IP video surveillance world. NVRs are also being designed to support 4K technology as well withstand a variety of applications and uses.  We invited several manufacturers that offer NVR appliances to expound on the ease-of-use benefits of the machines for integrators and end users.

Easily scalable and expandable

Panasonic’s appliances have become easier to use and, as a result, can be deployed in a wide range of applications and specifications, says Charles McCready, senior product specialist and technical resource for Panasonic System Communications Company’s partners and customers. Still, they offer leading capabilities, such as intelligent video motion detection (VMD), while metadata associated with VMD provides, fast, effective search. They are easily scalable and expandable, meeting the varied needs of the market and the user.

For the dealer/installer, NVR appliances should be a bridge to all the advantages of IP connectivity, not an additional hardware hindrance, says McCready. They should allow an integrator to add services, such as analytics for businesses intelligence, or storage at the edge, or easily integrate with other products, such as access control – because in the end recurring monthly revenue is a critical component for the installing company. If possible, they should be able to promote and foster remote accessibility, such as connectivity to internet devices, tablets and smart phones.

NVRs make it easy to benefit from HD solutions and integrations to access control, alarm systems, intercoms and other technologies, according to Dahua, another manufacturer of NVRs. Customers should also pay attention to convenience and intelligence. In Dahua’s home-use NVR portfolio, PoE or Wi Fi versions can make configuration super easy, says the company. Dahua’s NVRs for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMB) have additional intelligent functions that are helpful for analytics.

An integrated ‘building block’ solution

A video appliance alleviates the need
to completely design certain aspects
of a video management system,
instead providing a fully integrated
solution building block

Dealers and integrators face a daily challenge to keep up with customer quotes, requests, and implementations, says Lars Nordenlund Friis, vice president of incubation and ventures, Milestone Systems. A video appliance alleviates the need to completely design certain aspects of a video management system, instead providing a fully integrated solution building block, says Friis. These NVR building blocks can be deployed at smaller offices, bank branches, retail chain stores, remote locations, or in the central location. This allows the integrator to focus on critical aspects of the physical security system while deploying a fully integrated and optimised solution elsewhere.

NVRs or video appliances are easy to deploy with pre-installed video management software, device licenses included, and configuration wizards. There is no concern about support because the full solution, hardware and software, is supported by Milestone, says Friis.

Common client manages multiple devices

Hikvision offers the benefit of a common user interface throughout its line, whether it’s a 4-channel plug-and-play or a 256-channel Super NVR. With the common client to manage all devices, Hikvision NVRs are easy to install and manage. “We also fully support field installation and replacement of HDDs [hard disk drives] without voiding the warranty,” says Bob Germain, director of product management, Hikvision USA.

NVRs are easy to install, says Germain. There is no need to worry about a Windows operating system, maintaining updates, or compatibility with new hardware. Plug-and-play NVRs and auto-searching units have eliminated much of the setup required as well, reducing the complexity of the system. It is easy to add additional storage or even just field-replace a hard drive.

A major trend in the market is standardisation and continuity among systems, says Germain. Because the Hikvision interface is simple and standard, any investment in training is leveraged across all future installations. The benefits of the company’s embedded Linux NVRs include minimal maintenance, high performance, cost effectiveness, and high scalability. In addition, Hikvision NVRs keep up with the demands of new technology, such as supporting 4K resolutions. Most systems still require a back-end storage system with cloud and edge storage usually being an enhancement to the total solution.

Probably the biggest missed opportunity is plug-and-play. “If an integrator has not tried these units, they have not seen how easy IP can be,” says Germain. “They are great for small systems or multi-site systems and can be easily managed with Hikvision’s remote client software and DDNS [Dynamic Domain Name System] service, which are provided free of charge.”

Video appliances have gained in importance because of the increasing need for businesses to incorporate a well-rounded physical security plan while remaining within budget, says Ahmed Elsayed, sales engineer, Hikvision USA.

Hikvision offers distributed and scalable architecture and lower-cost redundancy. The appliances are “plug and play:” They are operational from the moment you turn them on. Furthermore, auto-searching units make installations easier and quicker. Regardless of the type, number, or geographic location of the appliances, operation is seamless to the user, says Elsayed.

Video appliances have gained in
importance because of the increasing
need for businesses to incorporate a
well-rounded physical security plan
while remaining within budget

Wizards quickly configure NVR appliances

Exclusive to Genetec NVR appliances is the software company’s newly developed Control Panel application. The application runs a series of wizards and tools to quickly configure the appliance, starting with network configuration, access credentials, and license activation, with automatic camera discovery, enrollment and configuration. The Genetec Control Panel is designed to reduce the time needed to configure and commission the system, to reduce the cost of deployment, says Muhanad Jamjum, product manager of appliances at Genetec.

The automatic update tool within the Control Panel allows the end user to check for the latest Security Center software version and can fully automate system updates to stay current with the latest release available. These features not only reduce the costs of initial setup, but also reduce the cost of maintaining the Genetec appliance with the most up-to-date software releases as they become available, says Jamjum.

Pre-installed and verified Network Security Appliances relieve the system integrator’s pre-sales team of the burden of specifying an off-the-shelf server to match the system requirements of the video management software. Though dependent on the choice of vendor, ideally the time it takes to design the system is greatly reduced with minimal risks involved. The selected hardware platform is already tested, fine-tuned, and pre-configured to maximise the performance of the software.

In complex solutions that span multiple remote sites or locations and possibly involve more than one system integrator, the ability to standardise hardware becomes crucial. Capitalising on a preconfigured Network Security Appliance across different sites ensures the consistency and stability of the entire system, which ultimately reduces the total cost of maintaining that system. The time needed to commission the system is also reduced, especially with the use of wizards and initial setup applications.

Easy implementation requires less expertise

Ease of installation is a major concern for integrators, says Ken LaMarca, OnSSI Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Integrators have made it clear that they want plug-and-play solutions to address this need. That’s why NVR appliances powered by OnSSI are designed to meet this demand with a variety of robust solutions that offer extreme ease of implementation to reduce the required time and technical expertise – which lowers costs for installers and end users.

A main benefit of NVR appliances powered by OnSSI is their ease of installation, says LaMarca. Dealers and integrators who are not implementing these devices are losing out on the time and cost savings they provide, he adds. These appliances are purpose-built to significantly reduce the time and specialised technical skills and training necessary for installation. Time is money, and this combination of benefits can add up to significant savings for end users and increased profits for dealers and integrators.

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Larry Anderson Editor, SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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Government institutions should utilise VSaaS for an integrated video surveillance system
Government institutions should utilise VSaaS for an integrated video surveillance system

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Their work involves monitoring and policing many different neighborhoods, buildings, garages, parks, and walking paths—basically anywhere there is property or people to protect. They rely on video surveillance to help them keep these environments safe. But it’s more than local law enforcement officers who use video footage. From local city officials to federal and state law enforcement agencies, many other people, at times, need access to video footage captured by city surveillance cameras. Centralised remote monitoring How does VSaaS help? VSaaS enables the installation of cameras throughout cities and communities and stream footage to a central location via the Internet. Because the system is centralised, it eliminates the need to manage a lot of different standalone DVRs or NVRs, which enables organisations to monitor a large area from a remote command center. VSaaS enables the installation of cameras throughout cities and communities and stream footage to a central location via the Internet Plus, anyone with proper credentials can access the footage from an Internet-connected device—whether that be a smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. That makes it easier for multiple agencies to work together, which in turn can improve communication and response time to incidents. Budget concerns and flexibility Tight budgets are normal in government. As a result, it’s often a challenge to procure capital for new technology purchases—and that sometimes leads to underfunded projects and difficulty upgrading old technology. VSaaS changes the expense model. It allows you to shift from a capital expenditure (CapEx) model, where large capital funding is required to purchase equipment, to an operational expenditure (OpEx) model, where the costs of the solution become an operating expense. Since the cameras, installation, storage, and software are packaged into a service, you don’t need a large capital outlay up front—you simply pay a predictable expense every month. VSaaS provides the capability for you to increase storage capacity when you need it Feature and storage capacity upgrade features VSaaS also makes it easier to upgrade old technology. When new technology becomes available, you can upgrade to it as part of the service. You no longer have to stick with old technology because of capital budget restrictions. Instead, you can upgrade to better cameras and management software features as they become available. The same is true for storage capacity. As camera resolution increases, the amount of data captured also increases. In addition, with the evolution of smart city technology and big data analytics, video data has become more valuable. As a result, there is a need not only to store more data but also to keep that data accessible for a longer period of time. VSaaS provides the capability for you to increase storage capacity when you need it. You can scale to accommodate growth, and since the storage is delivered as part of the service, you can leverage the “pay for use” model to manage your costs. On-premise storage or hybrid Where should surveillance video be stored? It’s an important question. After all, government entities must always comply with data privacy laws and handle data properly to ensure it can be used as evidence if needed. As a result, officials may prefer to be selective about where they store video data. In fact, the concern over regulatory requirements and security and privacy issues, according to Gartner, will lead governments to implement private cloud at twice the rate of public cloud through 2021. The provider’s ability to store large amounts of data cost-effectively makes VSaaS possible That’s not necessarily a show-stopper when it comes to video surveillance. Some VSaaS providers offer hybrid options. Plus, one of the things that makes VSaaS possible is the provider’s ability to store large amounts of data cost-effectively. Because service providers can manage their storage infrastructures economically, they can offer their service at an attractive price. Multi-tier storage infrastructure In a way, government institutions (as well as commercial organisations) can do the same thing. If a government entity—for example, a small municipality—wanted to store their data on-premise or implement a hybrid configuration, they could solve some of their video storage challenges by implementing a multi-tier storage infrastructure similar to what a VSaaS provider might use to provide the actual service. A multi-tier storage infrastructure uses different storage media—disk, object storage, tape, and cloud—and combines them to deliver the total capacity needed while balancing performance and cost. The diagram below is an illustration of a multi-tier infrastructure: As the diagram shows, storage capacity grows using lower cost forms of media as volume and long-term retention requirements change. Files are moved between tiers based on user-defined policies. When the policies are met, the files are moved to a lower cost tier. Some file systems allow for multiple copies be written at ingest which not only minimises the traffic of moving files across the network, but also provides much needed data protection through a second copy on a lower-cost tier. This scenario enables you to optimise the amount of high-performance media in your infrastructure and lower the long-term cost of retaining files. VSaaS offers many benefits for government institutions and commercial organisations alike Choice of implementations VSaaS offers many benefits for government institutions and commercial organisations alike. But not every implementation has the same needs or requirements. The good news is, when it comes to video surveillance solutions, you have options. You can leverage the benefits of VSaaS, in either a public cloud or hybrid scenario, depending on the service provider. Or if your needs dictate, you can achieve some of the same capacity and cost-saving benefits you would get from a VSaaS solution by implementing an on-premise solution based on a centralised VMS system and multi-tier storage. The choice is yours.