The number of security cameras in use today is growing exponentially. At the same time, resolutions are getting higher and higher. These two factors are placing heavy demands on servers and storage equipment. Of course, the capacity of these systems is also increasing, but that alone does not make the equipment truly suitable for the most demanding applications - such as camera surveillance. A video stream is not comparable to 'normal' data, for which storage systems are usually designed. This article will explore how these issues can be addressed.

Hard drive challenges

A hard disk residing in a video storage system has a tough life. On a daily basis, large amounts of data are written and read and all sectors are continuously filled to the maximum. A hard disk designed for office applications is not able to manage this work. At first everything seems fine, but anyone closely monitoring the stored images will notice that 'frame drops' are the rule rather than the exception.

The buffers cannot handle the huge amount of data, which leads to data being lost. These lost images can be reference images within the compression algorithm, thus leading to the loss of complete fragments. Not useful if a robbery has just occurred and the perpetrator cannot be identified because the hard drive had a hiccup.

A lot of effort is put into countering these problems through the associated servers and storage systems. Compression is used to reduce the amount of data, cameras are made intelligent so no capacity is lost through unimportant images, and more and more storage is taking place in the camera itself. All of these methods have disadvantages which can be avoided by using a suitable video storage system.

Support for large camera systems

Compression, for example, is at the expense of quality and should therefore be limited. Intelligent cameras fail if the criminal is even more intelligent. And in-camera storage works well - until the camera is pulled from the wall. With the right server, these risks are avoided and the user is assured of a reliable camera system.

What makes a server or storage system suitable for use with video? Technology that offers support for a large number of cameras, eliminates frame drops and contributes to highly stable operation is needed. Of course, high storage capacity is important, but at least as essential is a high processing speed. In addition, several features are needed that increase the reliability of the entire system.

Systems specifically designed for connecting cameras and installing Video Management Software are preferred
Allowing input from alarm systems means that cameras can be activated when an intruder is detected

For example, a so-called RAID configuration ensures that continuity does not depend on one disk. Multiple disks do the same work, so it does not matter if one or even two failures occur. The administrator gets a signal and can easily replace the malfunctioning disk without losing data, and it is not necessary to take the system temporarily ‘offline’. It’s true that these are features that many ‘normal’ servers and storage systems also have.

Sequential Pattern Recording

What are some other things to consider when making servers or storage systems compatible with video? For one - an efficient way to store the images. With just one camera it is not all that complicated, however, the efficient storage of images from 128 cameras may be considered a big challenge.

With a feature known as Sequential Pattern Recording, images can be stored according to a logical pattern. If they are stored in this manner, much less movement of the write heads of the disks is required. In addition, images should first be stored in a buffer, which smooths peaks in the amount of data. The buffer gradually sends the images to the disc so that the quality of the stored images does not suffer from sudden peak loads that occur in, for example, the panning or zooming of cameras. And not only do the images become more stable, this method also extends the life of the disks.

Storage systems designed
for normal data are often
not very convenient to use

Predictive Playback

Reading of the images should not be done at the expense of saving the images, and a feature known as Predictive Playback ensures this. Reading also requires a lot of system capacity. Predictive Playback determines a few seconds in advance which images are required to display. As soon as there is enough processor capacity left, processing is done. This produces an excellent display of images while the capturing of new images by the writing headers continues unhindered.

Remote Active Service

Even the most reliable technology can fail- and additional security, such as in the form of Remote Active Service, is needed. The ‘health’ of the system should be continuously monitored. If certain parts have difficulties with their job, display failures or even malfunction, the customer should be informed so that immediate repairs can be made. This will allow critical processes to proceed unimpeded.

In addition to not being fully reliable, storage systems designed for normal data are often not very convenient to use. Systems specifically designed for connecting cameras and installing Video Management Software are preferred, especially if they are easy to use, install and configure. Allowing input from alarm systems is another desirable feature, as this means that cameras can be activated when an intruder is detected or an emergency door is opened. Large storage capacities (preferably up to 100 Terabytes) are also strongly suggested.

Servers and storage systems with the features described above are out there - ready and able to go beyond ‘normal data’ and bring the performance and reliability required by IP video surveillance.

Contributed by Promise Technology

 

 

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?
Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?

Among its many uses and benefits, technology is a handy tool in the fantasy world of movie and television thrillers. We all know the scene: a vital plot point depends on having just the right super-duper gadget to locate a suspect or to get past a locked door. In movies and TV, face recognition is more a super power than a technical function. Video footage can be magically enhanced to provide a perfect image of a license plate number. We have all shaken our heads in disbelief, and yet, our industry’s technical capabilities are improving every day. Are we approaching a day when the “enhanced” view of technology in movies and TV is closer to the truth? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How much has the gap closed between the reality of security system capabilities and what you see on TV (or at the movies)?

The five questions bank security and IT leaders need to answer about cybersecurity
The five questions bank security and IT leaders need to answer about cybersecurity

Organisations across the world face a new risk paradigm: one that encompasses cyber and physical threats. We’ve heard the stories associated with ATM skimming, identity theft, data breaches, scams, and phishing. Large financial services organisations are often the victim of hackers looking to steal corporate information and transactional data or funds, and criminals continue to become more sophisticated in their approach. Growth in cyber-attacks Additionally, cyber-threats have taken a front seat in the line-up of primary risks facing financial institutions today. And it is no surprise why: according to Cybersecurity Ventures, the amount of money taken in cyber heists, both in banking and elsewhere, was estimated at $3 trillion overall for 2015, and this substantial amount is expected to double by 2021. Cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent, more complex and harder to address The fact that cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent isn't the only issue; they're also becoming more complex and therefore harder to address. And although the convenient interconnectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT) creates many advantages for financial institutions, with that also comes an increased risk to dangerous threats. In today’s environment, banks, credit unions, and financial organisations of all types are primary targets for hackers. But it’s not just the monetary loss that these businesses need to be concerned about — there is also a threat to the brand, customer trust, and employee safety. All of these challenges and complexities open the door to new conversations and risks. Here are the top five critical questions today’s bank leaders need to be ready to answer. Should we collaborate to mitigate these threats effectively? Over the last decade, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and a demand for more mobile capabilities has changed the way people and businesses connect. But as the need for connectivity increases, so too does the need for increased security for physical assets, networks, and valuable corporate data. As a result, a dialogue between IT and physical security is necessary to help leaders gain a greater knowledge of how to best collaborate to ensure complete protection. Leaders must communicate closely to drive strategies that help identify vulnerabilities in a more proactive manner. The result of these conversations: a truly comprehensive approach to security intelligence. It’s not just the monetary loss that banks need to be concerned about – there is also a threat to customer trust and employee safety How can I pinpoint the important data for addressing cyber threats? To maintain a high level of security and ensure business continuity around the globe, companies seek solutions that help predict and identify threats in real time. But often, there are too many alerts generated by too many systems, and none of this raw data is actionable. Linking cyber and physical security together transforms alerts into actionable intelligence, which helps users connect the pieces of any situation and present a unified risk scenario to the appropriate analysts and operators. By capturing and analysing data in real time, enterprise organisations gain a visual representation of risks across the business while accessing information related to the most critical events happening at any given time. Not only does this unified process enable a higher and more proactive level of protection, but it also helps facilitate a plan of action based within a common, unified security operations centre. How can I inform of the importance of cybersecurity? Security leaders in banks need to feel prepared by staying updated, looking at common vulnerabilities, understanding the malware and challenges, and testing the environment. And collaboration is key to mitigation: Traditional security and fraud teams must work in conjunction with cyber teams to effectively handle all aspects of a cyber-attack. Additionally, CISOs need to “sell” cybersecurity to CEOs and the board by outlining the importance of protection through emphasising the impact of a potential cyber-attack on the business. Ensure you can verbally address the most critical risks to your senior leadership, including recent botnets, scams, and cyber gangs, to receive the support, and budget you need to address these threats head on. Is my system secure? It is critical that you are knowledgeable about the steps you can take to protect your security and network infrastructure from cyber-attacks. A firewall is useful to prevent hackers from accessing critical data on internal networks and computers Changing default passwords should be a first step, as some scams target devices with hard-coded factory defaults. Ensure software and firmware is up to date because updates often include fixes for potential vulnerabilities. These updates keep your devices and network more secure and increase overall system uptime. A firewall is useful to prevent hackers and unauthorised programs from accessing the critical business information and resources on internal networks and computers. Also, minimise potential risk by closing network ports and disabling services you don’t need. With all of these instances, it is best to work closely with your integrator partner and chosen vendor to ensure that your system is as secure as it can possibly be. What solutions are best to help mitigate risks? Technology is a great force multiplier. Security — both cyber and physical solutions — helps secure an entire branch footprint, alleviates risk, ensures operational compliance, and improves fraud investigations. Video surveillance systems, analytics, threat management platforms and more can provide organisations with intelligence and unprecedented protection from fraud, all while enhancing the customer experience. Overall, there are significant benefits to collaborating to gain comprehensive risk intelligence. By bringing various leaders, departments, technologies and strategies together, we can more effectively identify threats, develop trends and quickly access important data to ensure security and safety goals are realised.

BCDVideo signs OEM deal with Dell EMC: positive impact for surveillance storage
BCDVideo signs OEM deal with Dell EMC: positive impact for surveillance storage

In a significant move for the video security market, BCDVideo has announced that it is set to become Dell EMC’s OEM partner in the video surveillance space. For nearly a decade, the Chicago-based company has been known as a key OEM partner of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), providing storage and networking technology to security integrators on a global scale. This latest partnership will allow BCDVideo to take their offerings to the next level. BCDVideo Vice President Tom Larson spoke to SourceSecurity.com to discuss the reasoning behind the deal, and how the programme will benefit partners, integrators, and end-users alike. Expanding BCDVideo's product offering For BCDVideo, the HPE OEM programme has been widely acknowledged as a success, allowing the company to leverage a globally recognised brand and provide high-quality, reliable solutions across video networking and access control. Nevertheless, explains Larson, HPE server solutions are primarily suited to large-scale enterprise projects, and are therefore unable to accommodate for the growth in small- and medium-sized surveillance applications. The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering, building on success in the larger enterprise market to offer tailored solutions to SMEs. Our aim is to look at all best of breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships” Support for integrators By leveraging Dell EMC’s sophisticated digital storage platforms, BCDVideo will now be able to offer a more cost-effective solution to integrators, without sacrificing the resilience and IT-level service that BCDVideo is known for. With access to Dell EMC’s expansive global sales and technical teams, the company hopes to expand its reach, all-the-while providing partners with around-the-clock technical support and a five-year on-site warranty. Customers should be reassured that BCDVideo will continue to offer HPE platforms, service, and support. “Our aim is to look at all best-of-breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships,” says Larson.  “The addition of Dell EMC to our portfolio is a major win for BCDVideo, for Dell EMC, and for our integrators.” The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering Meeting surveillance market demands At the technology level, assures Larson, Dell EMC’s server offering is well suited to handle the increasing video resolution and growing camera count demanded by the surveillance industry. At the larger end of the spectrum, the company’s Isilon Scale-Out NAS solution can handle tens of petabytes of data, making it ideal for large-scale security applications such as city-wide surveillance and airport security. Dell EMC storage solutions are already proving successful at major international airports including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, each with a camera count in the 1000s.Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market” For Dell EMC, the new partnership means the ability to expand on this success in the enterprise market, leveraging BCDVideo’s surveillance expertise and high-level customer service to offer tailored solutions for lower-volume applications. Since its inception, BCDVideo has differentiated itself in the security space by providing a high level of IT service to integrators making the transition to IP systems. By combining resources, the partners will be able to service VMS and analytics companies, software vendors, and access control providers, as well as traditional business integrators. Ken Mills, General Manager Dell EMC Surveillance, explains: “Surveillance storage is not just about capacity, it is also about performance and reliability. Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market.” Accomodating for growth BCDVideo is well placed to accommodate this anticipated growth. Last year, the company opened a new 51,000-square-foot global headquarters in Illinois, home to 90 separate stations within their Innovation Center where each system is customised according to integrator needs. The new facility allows for expanding business with new and existing partners in the security market.