It’s generally understood that Video Management Software (VMS) is able to put operators firmly in control of a video surveillance system by allowing any combination of camera types and images to be displayed on Control Room screens and recorded at the same time. These include HD, 4K and ultra-HD cameras, as well as 360° fisheye, thermal imaging and what may be legacy analogue cameras, writes Simon Shawley.
The latest generation of open platform VMS, however, is functionally able to deliver so much more than just the efficient management of cameras and the recording and storage of data. The contribution to be made in terms of delivering added value and business benefits, as well as the future-proofing and reduction in the total cost of ownership of a security system, is being understood and deployed by a growing number of security professionals and ‘savvy’ end users alike.
Unlike end-to-end security systems or those that have very limited upgrade path opportunities, using an open platform VMS enables integration with a host of technologies from any number of the world’s leading brands, as well as the opportunity to provide development services for specific requirements which can incorporate legacy or specialist technology into the solution.
VMS has the potential to be at the heart of a comprehensive electronic security solution by providing a platform which makes integration between disparate third party technologies simple and creates a total solution that’s much more powerful than the sum of its parts. These include technologies from leading camera manufacturers, but also from access control, intelligent video analytics, intruder detection, Point of Sale and other sensors and devices making it possible for end users to effortlessly operate, monitor, control and manage a Best of Breed total security solution from a single screen.
Hardware focus versus Software focus
There’s certainly no shortage of manufacturers producing traditional network video recorders (NVRs) and, for many projects, these will offer an effective method of recording and storing video, audio and associated data.
However, even if these recording devices work on an open platform, and many do not, you will be very much in the hands of the manufacturer in terms of what cameras you will be able to use. Receptive NVRs and integration with other third party technology will be limited, if at all available. If they have not already integrated your preferred manufacturer, you may have to wait in a queue until such time that they do.
With VMS at the heart of an electronic security system, there’s the flexibility to integrate with video surveillance cameras from any manufacturer and have them interracting with virtually any third party integration both today and as technology continues to move on in the future. You are protected with a future-proof platform that allows you to take advantage of the technologies that will solve your specific problems.
On top of this, there’s the freedom and scalability, subject to just a minimum specification, to run the VMS on a broad range of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware, reducing costs and having the freedom to choose exactly what works for you.
Moore’s Law can loosely be applied to video surveillance solutions. More and more data needs to be securely recorded and stored and actions triggered when an incident or pre-defined event occurs. As new threats emerge and new opportunities arise from the development of new and more innovative applications, the ability of a hard drive-based solution to keep up with ever-changing market demands will be limited.
Wouldn’t it be nice if…?
Annual budget cycles and limitations may initially restrict end users from buying everything on their ‘Wish List’, while their requirements will inevitably evolve over time. This may be because their day-to-day operational requirements have changed, their business has expanded or diversified or simply because users’ expectations as to what can be achieved continue to increase as they gain some experience of operating a security solution and become more aware of the latest innovations available on the market.
A one-off investment in an open platform VMS will offer system integrators the opportunity to deliver a bespoke solution to their end user clients which provides flexible storage as their requirements change. It will also allow them to continue to use legacy cameras alongside current and future generations of products, systems and software.
Most importantly, it will allow them to adopt a ‘can do’ attitude when the client says: “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?’ to the idea of integrating an additional third party system or incorporating some future technology without having to suggest that an entire existing system needs to be replaced.
Simon Shawley is Sales Director of Wavestore Global Ltd