The Value of Hybrid NVR/DVRs in IP Video Systemsby John Honovich, IPVM posted on Jun 15, 2008 About John Contact John
Hybrid NVR/DVRs are appliances (purposed built computers) that can simultaneously support IP cameras and directly connected analog cameras. This provides simplicity and flexibility. Customers can start with their existing analog cameras and slowly migrate to IP. Specifically, unlike a 'pure' NVR, a hybrid NVR/DVR eliminates the need for a separate video encoder when connecting to analog cameras.
Hybrid NVR/DVRs are now being offered by almost all of the traditional DVR companies. However, many have questioned whether this meets a customer need or is done simply because it is easy for the traditional DVR companies to do.
Nevertheless, the hybrid NVR/DVR is quite legitimate and plays a critical role in very common scenarios in video surveillance:
- 80%+ of cameras today are analog and most of those cameras have many years of service left in them.
- In many applications (perhaps 30% or more of all systems), bandwidth constraints force customers to deploy recorders at the remote site near the on-site cameras.
In these scenarios, hybrid NVR/DVR systems will be very attractive. And since this scenario is very common, it will be a major factor for many security managers and the industry as a whole. To see why this will be a major factor, let's examine general NVR benefits and why they are reduced in these scenarios.
A main benefit of a pure NVR is consolidation of video management and storage functionalities. Rather than managing video in chunks of 16 or 32 across potentially dozens of appliances, centralized servers and storage clusters can be used. These servers and storage clusters can reduce equipment cost, power consumption and service costs. Indeed, main of the early adopters of pure NVRs and IP video systems did so because of this advantage.
The biggest challenge in consolidation is bandwidth availability. Consolidating requires video feeds from various parts of a facility/facilities be transmitted to a central location(s). To do this, requires sufficient bandwidth. Inside the local area network (usually inside a building), bandwidth availability is plenty and fairly inexpensive. However, in the wide area network (usually between buildings or campus), bandwidth is scarce and quite expensive. To centralize video management and storage across the WAN could easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month, negating the benefits of consolidation.
In many distributed facilities with 4 to 32 cameras, organizations will have to manage and store their local feeds in their local premises. This is, of course, not new as it is the common practice with DVRs. However, it does affect the NVR business case and create incentive to choose hybrid NVR/DVR systems.
Economic Comparison of Hybrid DVR/NVR to pure NVR
When you have less than 32 cameras and you need to store and manage those cameras locally, the economics of hybrid NVR/DVRs are far better than pure NVRs.
A mid-tier 16 to 32 channel hybrid NVR/DVR costs about $6,000 to $8,000 (using online Google pricing for all estimates). The hybrid NVR/DVR does encoding, storage, management and serving of the video, all in one, with minimal on-site setup and configuration.
By contrast, a pure NVR solution can cost 20% – 50% more than a hybrid system and is more complex to setup and maintain. The additional costs come from having to (1) purchase standalone encoders to convert the analog cameras to IP ($200 to $300 per camera), (2) purchase software licenses for the NVR($100 to $150 per camera) and (3) purchase a PC/server with storage ($75 to $125 per camera). Additionally, the server needs to be set up, software loaded, OS tuned, encoders configured and connections established between encoders and NVR. It also takes more space, more IP addresses and because there are now multiple systems, increases the risk of integration or future service issues.
The NVR approach is much more complex and time consuming than the comparative hybrid NVR/DVR which is relatively plug and play. In a large scale environment where 100s of cameras were being consolidated, the cost savings often justify the additional complexity and setup time. However, in a small setup, the costs are quite significant.
Hybrid DVR/NVRs Provide a Smooth Transition
For any given customer, the most attractive hybrid DVR/NVR will be the unit from their existing DVR supplier. Even if the customer does not especially like their DVR vendor, all of their staff is trained on using that DVR's client software. Moreover, often, all of the DVRs are from one vendor, so the staff never has to worry about which software client to use. The same client software for the DVR can usually be used for the hybrid systems. This makes the switch seamless and transparent to the users. Customer are willing to switch but when it's close, the comfort of the staff is a major factor in sticking with existing processes and products.
What's the Downside of Hybrid DVR/NVRs
The biggest downside of Hybrid DVR/NVRs is that many are not truly hybrid. A genuine hybrid would be equally flexible with IP and analog. Mixing and matching many combinations of analog and IP would be standard. Supporting a variety of IP and megapixel cameras would also be standard. Exacq is a good example of a true hybid. The problem is a lot of so called 'hybrid' systems offer only token support for mixing and matching and for different IP cameras. One common technique is to offer only a few additional IP cameras, constrained to 1 or 2 IP suppliers, in addition to the 16 analog inputs. GE's Symdec is an example of a "fake" hybrid. Hybrid systems are supposed to give you flexibility to grow into IP. This approach is more of a trick than a benefit.
The other downside of Hybrid DVR/NVRs is that they may not offer the same advanced functions as NVRs. Though individual units certainly do not, most mainstream DVRs support the same type of advanced functions as NVRs do. For more information, examine my review on how DVRs have been catching up to NVRs. Buyers should examine this point but most mainstream hybrid systems should be quite close to NVRs.
For many mainstream security buyers, hybrid DVR/NVR systems are going to be the best choice. The lower cost, easier deployment, and lack of client changes needed will make the hybrid DVR/NVR very attractive for applications needing recording of moderate camera counts at distributed facilities. Buyers should carefully examine how hybrid the system truly is and how the functionalities compare to pure NVRs but may conclude that hybrids work best for their needs.
Most Recent Industry Reports
IP Camera Bandwidth / Storage Shootout on Mar 05, 2014
Bandwidth consumption can vary tremendously, even with the same resolution, frame rate, compression and scene, by 50% to 80% in our tests. This is because cameras process video differently (e.g., g...
Market Guide 2014: Video Analytics on Mar 03, 2014
For more than a decade, video analytics has been the great hope for the surveillance industry. Indeed, it remains the pick as the Next Big Thing. Yet the past 2 years has been rough, with ObjectVi...
Testing Geovision MP License Plate Camera on Feb 28, 2014
Capturing license plates is one of the most requested, and underserved areas, in IP cameras. The question comes up a lot, and there are not many purpose built options. One of the few IP / MP Licen...
Book Released: 2014 Access Control Training on Feb 26, 2014
Just like we did an IP camera book, we are now doing one for access control. This is the best, most comprehensive access control training in the world, based on our unprecedented research. No...
Testing Honeywell HD WDR IP Camera on Feb 25, 2014
Honeywell is a huge name, but not one well respected in video surveillance, unless you are an alarm dealer. The company was late into IP but now offers their own IP camera line, including their hi...
Worst VMS Manufacturers 2014 on Feb 24, 2014
With the favorite VMSes revealed, we now turn to the worst. We asked 120+ integrators from more than 20 countries: "In the past year, what VMS / NVR system have you had the worst experience wit...
IP Camera Manufacturer Compression Comparison on Feb 21, 2014
Compression is very important. While resolution gets the attention, compression is critical and can be a silent killer - both for quality and bandwidth. Regardless of resolution, all surveillance ...
Camera Test: PPF Needed For IDs, Text, Money on Feb 19, 2014
Need to see the fine print of a dollar bill, euro, driver's license or text on a document? We tested 3 different types of print. Currency, both the US dollar and the Euro: Identification card,...
Favorite VMS Manufacturers 2014 on Feb 17, 2014
With the favorite and worst IP camera manufacturers identified, we now turn to the VMS manufacturers. 120 integrators from 20 countries answered the following open ended question: 23 manufact...
Cut Storage Cost by 50%? Arecont BSM Test on Feb 14, 2014
How would like to reduce your storage costs by up to 50% with just a click of a button? That's the promise of Arecont's 'Bandwidth Savings Mode', a new option that slashes bit rate up to half 'with...