Subscriber Discussion

End User Asks: What Is IT's Role Handling IP Cameras?

I am an end user and we also have an IT department. I want some input on where do I stop and IT starts when working on IP cameras?

I am having a conflict with our IT department as to what their job is with the cameras and what my job is. I was put into this position with no background in cameras and no training. Please i need some good advice.

Carolyn, sorry to hear about that. If it makes you feel any better, this type of conflict happens a lot.

Here's a webinar session talking about dealing with IT. Probably the most common source of IT conflicts is using the company's existing LAN for video surveillance.

Are you using the company's LAN? Are you using existing storage arrays?

As a general rule, the more of their resources they use, the more they will want control, if only to make sure the cameras don't overload or disrupt the rest of the infrastructure for all other users.

I am using 2 networks. One is the main and the other is the camera network. They are claiming that when a camera goes down it is always the camera or software problem. They don't want to check to see if it is a problem they need to check on.

Do you have an outside integrator handling the surveillance system? Is your IT department responsible for maintaining the camera network?

Frequently, what happens is the camera network is not only physically separate but an outside integrator, specializing in security, handles all maintenance (from cameras, to VMS software, to the network connecting them). This way IT is not involved (except for rare occasions).


I do not have an integrator. I am responsible for doing the maintance on the cameras. I am also in security so I do alot in the setting up the cameras(IP addressing, install of camera). IT does the networking end of it. I hope this isn't confusing but IT is trying to put more on me.

Sounds like you may need to move up the ladder in administration. I of course don't know your exact situation, and I don't know your IT department's side of the story, but there's nothing I hate more than "t'ain't my job" attitudes. IT's job should be the same as anyone else's in a company, which is working to keep the company operating as efficiently and profitably as possible. If they're the network experts, and you don't have a person under your authority with networking experiance, then they should be helping. Does the Facilities department make a distinction if the HVAC system is malfunctioning in the Buisness Office verus the Marketing Dept?

Talk to the head of the IT department and try to resolve it. If they aren't helpful, talk to to whoever is over them, or talk to your department head and have them talk to them or their head. Use emails so you have a paper trail. It's sad it may come down to no one wanting to do anything about it and maybe it won't, and all you're doing is creating documentation that you did your due diligence in trying to resolve the issue. But at least you'll have documentation of your efforts and tried to go through the proper channels to get it done.

Carolyn and Luis,

We've had the same problem over the years. IT didn't want to help support our system so we (I) had to learn a lot of things we would normally ask IT for help with, like Active Directory and User Rights. We were able to elicit their support when, for some reason, our core switch lost its programming but even then it was our good fortune that I had purchased and installed Solar Winds and made backups of our default and running configs.

The situation continued for many years through multiple IT Directors. Thankfully, management hired a new IT Director recently who is turning things around. He has committed his department to assist us with our most complex technical needs and it appears we will be able to obtain their support as we convert to an IP infrastructure.

I really hate to hear these types of stories... and as John points out, it happens a lot! :(

The problem you have is not a technical issue - it is a 'people' issue.

In your situation, you are in a position that absolutely requires the participation of the IT crew in order for you to effectively accomplish your own mission. That said, you (in your role) are the one who decides what their participation must be.

I don't mean you tell them what their job is. I mean that there are certain things relating to the overall network topology/infrastructure that will impact your mission that will (and probably should) remain outside of your scope of control/access. The troubling part of your current scenario is defining where that barrier is and getting both sides working together - as you originally posted.

Personally, when faced with similar situations I forego the 'include the suits' as my first plan. If it reaches this level, then the IT guys will almost always feel like they are being 'forced' to not only do their own work, but yours too. This is why I only 'include the suits' as a last resort. It may work, but it's the hammer aproach. And nobody likes getting hammered. (everyone save the drinking jokes please) :)

I find the 'hey, smart IT folks - help a brother out who is clearly not as wise and obviously intelligent as you guys are' approach to be far more productive.

Secretly, they probably think the statement above is true anyway - so use it.

Start with that approach, but make it clear that you want to learn as much as you can - as soon as you can - so that you aren't relying on them for everything (i.e. doing your work).

Based on your comments, it may be past the time where this approach will work optimally - your IT crew may have already formed these negative opinions of you crreating extra work for them. :(

Good thing about this approach is that it still works after the fact if played right. Follow up with a lot of 'oh, I never realized' or 'there is a lot I need to learn' type comments when speaking with IT - and make it crystal-clear that you need and want their help, but that you are committed to learning what you need to 'lighten their load' as quickly as you can. Your knowledge level will determine where the 'barrier' is. - i.e. you are the one who decides... :)

Everyone likes having their skills validated - and IT folks are no different. The more you ask, the more you can learn from them.... and the more willing they should be to help you in your mission.

Hope this helps! :)

I'll take a different approach here.

Consider either:

  • Pushing for the budget to have an outside security integrator to support you. You can still do tier 1 things but if it gets more complex, have someone on call.
  • Training someone on your team (or yourself) on mid tier IT / networking skills.

Maybe you can get someone in senior management to order IT or mediate the issue. However, the risk is still going to be there. So unless you want IT to take over the whole surveillance system (which is an option some organizations take), you should seriously look at DIY, either through paying your own security integrator or training someone inside your team.

There was an excellent series of "Internet, networking, etc.for Dummies put out by Pelco. This will give you some undestanding of the IT side of the fence. There are multiple resouces to help you learn about cameras, security systems, etc.

What system are you using for your Video Mangement? What type of cameras are you

This site has been invaluable in my education process as I was developing my plan to migrate from analog to IP cameras.


You must first learn about your system, the type of video management system, the type and number of cameras and the storage capabilities. It is important to know what you video is being used for and the number of days you need to store the video. If the video is not used to review events, needed for criminal proscution or for court purposes, you might not need to store more than 30 days. Otherwise, you may need to check with your legal department or risk managment to gain support for additional storage resources.

I am probably biased here a bit coming from an IT background and all, but it was nearly always harder to work with a 3rd party network integrator than it was to work with our own staff in other departments. Adding yet another chef tends to spoil the soup quite often (certainly not always though... it is a case-by-case basis). Surely there is a way to delegate the duties so that everyone can get along in the same company. A combination of Luis and Marty's approach really ought to work. Everyone needs to work on the same team if at all possible. Long-term that is the only way things work smoothly. There are all kinds of situations in the future that will crop up and having your keystone staff internal is better.

3rd party network integrators can certainly fill a void but long term they are a really tough fit if their skills overlap the internal staff too much. Lots of territorial issues crop up over time. It would really help to have at least some expertise inhouse in your department, but working with IT is better than working against them. A really good IT department will generally welcome the ability to assist in the camera deployment/support/design of the network components. It requires them learning new stuff and help others solve problems. Two big reasons many of them joined IT in the first place.

Just my opinions though...



Corey, you've just put security integrators out of business! ;)

If the internal departments can get along and work it out, certainly that is ideal. Often, though there are both political and technical reasons why they will not.

The one thing I do disagree with is the strength of this statement, "Everyone needs to work on the same team if at all possible. Long-term that is the only way things work smoothly." Contrary to that, there are many, perhaps most, systems that function well with almost no contribution from IT, done just by the security team and the external security integrator.

Its been my experience that almost all problems encountered on the lan with end points are cable/switch problems. I taught at Cisco for a year and obtained my CCNA and also an MCSE at that time. You should 1. call Ideal mfg and get a tester for your site. 2. get you mfg or rep firm out there to facilitate for you. IN my humble opinion.It is your Lan but the IT's backbone.


It is not the security integrators that need to be avoided, it is the adversarial relationship between projects/departments/teams/3rd-partys that must be avoided. That is the path for the lowest overall cost to the company. IT generally doesn't want the security system (though that is not always the case). However, duplication of effort is nearly always wasteful...

This type of issue does crop up, and I actually had this exact problem about three weeks ago and I wrote it all up to post, but really it boils down to the same things. Work together and things usually go well, or don't and some or all parties will suffer.

Bring IT in early and often... If you have a good IT team and a good relationship it absolutely can work. If it doesn't work then likely there are deeper problems unrelated to security cameras and at least you tried. (bad Karma, bad IT management, bad network, etc... this is true for nearly all departments/groups so bring them in whenever needed or if you are not sure and let them bow out if they do not want to be a part of the project.)

Like I tell my kids... "The Golden Rule nearly ALWAYS works great. If not 100% it is at least fantastic place to start, so do your part first."

If all parties involved in a project followed that ONE rule, OH MAN! work life would be GREAT nearly every day!



Where I work we have both a Corporate Physical security department and an It department. Generally we only receive from our IT staff the network conection, and IP address. After that the camera is our problem. the first thing we do when a camera goes does is always check the network. Are their other cameras on the same network or other devices on the same network and if they are working fine than we get our integrator involved to check the camera. Once the camera has been ruled out than we go back to our IT department for their help.

In your situation, you have a a seperate netowrk for cameras. With this being the case I would againcheck to seeif other cameras are down as well. if only one camera is down than it is the camera and not the network. If all cameras are down than it can be the network.

Every so often we find the problem is not with the camera or the network, but with the VMS. many if not all IP cameras have a web access, that is seperate from the VMS you happen to be using. I would check web access. If you can gain entry to the via the web, then the problem is with your VMS.

Hope this helps.

I'm in IT and when I arrived (10+ years ago) at my company they used analog cameras and a Pelco CIF DVR. The security department was unable to extract a simple car make/model from a recording of an incident. They asked for my help so I did my IT thing and researched available security camera technologies. I pushed our exisiting VAR into using IP cameras and more IT related equpment. The securtiy department was much happier with the 4CIF IP cameras (and the MegaPixel cameras today). At some point I found my VAR (Value Added Reseller) was lacking in the Value Added portion of VAR and I just took over the whole thing myself. From an IT point of view the IP camera is just another device, and the DVR/VMS is just another server running some dedicated software. When we upgraded our network we made sure we had enough bandwith capacity for the megapixel cameras. I did have to teach myself a bit about optics and such, and I still lean on my VAReseller occasionally. I find that if I stick with the Axis/Milestone products I generally come out ahead. The security department is much happier with my service than the VAR was providing.

For those VAR's out there. If you keep your skills sharp and can communicate in IT speak to the IT folks, and can keep your prices at <10% markup then you should have NO trouble competing with an internal IT staff. I'd happily pay a 10% markup if I didn't have to deal with all the headaches of product selection, electricians, installers, etc (IE provides VALUE). Unfortunatlly the VARs I've historically dealt with are either novices to the IP camera market, have horrible service, or just way too expensive.

Some VAR's are too limited by their reseller agreement(s). If I want a fenceline system, they only show me Axis cameras (100+ of them), but don't bother to suggest fence shakers, or other possibilities. I find I'm better off doing my own research. Sad...

Can a VAR surrvive on a 10% markup? I don't know. But if I can buy a $1000 camera online, how much should I pay for the exact camera from a VAR? More than $1100? Yes, he will deliver, but is that worth $100? The VALUE is really in the integration, advice, and service. The VAR could may his profit off of installation services, but needs to remain competitive with a low voltage contractor. I think there are some segments where a VAR is going to have a rough time.

I do realize that not all companies have an IT department that is willing to take on the entire security camera system. Or they just want to take over small portions, or aren't interested in helping fix something they didn't install, or whatever. This is a management issue and I suspect you aren't the only ones complaining about your IT department's lack of service.