Why Are More People Interested In IP Networking Than IP Cameras?

I am hoping you can enlighten me.

We've been quite happy with the turnout for the IP camera classes, always getting 100+ people per class.

But the interest in the IP networking course is phenomenal. We had 100 people in a week, added a second session and have gotten another 100 registrations in the next week. At this point, we have to close out the March course and open up another one in May.

I am thrilled and certainly not complaining.

I am a little stumped, though. To me, though, knowing cameras (and the knowledge in that course) is much more critical than the knowlege in networking. If you don't understand lensing and pixel density and lighting issue, you are far more likely to deliver a bad system than if you are weak in IP networking.

So, with that said, why are so many more people interested in learning about IP networking than IP cameras?

At first blush, it might be as simple as integrators treating cameras as toasters. Plug 'em in and away you go. Networking, on the other hand, may have more of a "pucker" factor, and therefore of greater interest.

I think you will find that people who subscribe to your website have more camera experience than have network expertise and they keep more up to date on cameras than networking...

Cameras are "fun" and networking can be tedious.

Sounds better on a resume.

It could be as simple as integrators wanting to be able to relate to the typical IT dept heads that care little about pixel count or quality of cameras but more about what a camera does to their network that draws the crowds to your networking class.

May be more of a "Cover your ...." knowledge that folks are more interested in and as stated previously there are quite a bit of folks that understand the camera side but need the knowledge on the networking to win the projects and assure proper planning ahead of camera installs.

Bit rates, bandwidth consumption, VLANs, Qos, etc. are much more complex than your average person understands. That is not to put those down that do understand these items but more relating to a knowledge base that is not understood unless you practice it daily.

Un B has it on the head if you ask me. You have a bnuch of security centric folks here. Sure, some might have IT backgrounds as well (like me). But, you're much more likely to find guys who have been installing analog cams for years and are much more well versed on cameras than they are networking.

Congrats on the success John!

Security is more than IP cameras. Access control, intercoms, and sometimes alarm system depend on networks as well. I beleive that most security professional are more verse on camera lense, FOV, etc., but networking is a weakness for many technicians and integrators. The number of service calls that are network related have increased significantly over the years. I good tech needs to understand networks, and be able to talk to the IT department about the issue in order to fix it.

My best guess is that a majority of the people that read this forum are long term security people that have either previously taken the camera course, and/or learned the lessons taught from the unforgiving school of experience (that’s the school that when you screw up, you have to eat your mistake, and won’t soon forget the lesson). For many of us old-timers, that learning started before Al Gore invented the Internet, when we were using analog cameras. IP is newer and creating challenges that we need to better understand. I look forward to increasing my knowledge of IP in March!

"started before Al Gore invented the Internet"

Good one Rob.

Based on the types of questions that I help our sales staff with....I have to agree with 'D' on many points. The camera is considered the 'easy' part but figuring out how much server you need and how much client you need is a non trivial task.

I rarely have to answer customer questions about any camera related items, but I do bring it up if it helps them understand what they are trying to do.

We have them boil the server side input down to a bit rate from the cams and add it all up. Since the cams can have an endless number of tweeks to the quatization, lighting, aperture...all we can do is estimate (unless the recommended site visit is performed).

The client side is also a network related answer and is even harder to estimate. This is why we do empirical testing to have a good feel for what can be done by certain hardware with a VMS.

Knowing lensing and pixel density and lighting is for naught if you can't even get it connected.

before the systems were analogue and do not need networking , we still keeping what we know , and in additional if we know better the networking , this welill drive us to know more than ip such access control , alarm , and most become based on ip and network .

knowing lensing and pixel density and lighting issue would definely help with the project. But in reality, customer may have budget concern that they have to end up picking something just cheaper, unless they can put both of them side by side to compares & show the buyer "real difference".

But networking is something that you can't see like old analog cable. When you got it wrong, you really don't know what happen till someone understand network take a look of the problem that solves it for you.

You can get training on cameras from any manufacturer for free and it's better than nothing but usually product specific. Look around for an IP course that also addresses questions based around the final product. You are filling a void created by Al Gore ;)

Wow, thanks for the outpouring of answers!

It seems there are 3 broad categories:

  • Industry people already know cameras
  • Manufacturers already train on cameras
  • IP networking is more important than cameras

I am not saying everyone agrees on all 3 of these but it seems almost all responses fit in one of these categories.

It is what is. I am not going to fight the market, though I do think it's a shame that real camera skills are, in my estimation, underestimated and underappreciated.

I'd say Undisclosed A and B have probably nailed it right off the top.

I wouldn't say that IP networking is MORE IMPORTANT than cameras... but it's definitely a more broadly useful skill than JUST cameras. It's good for connecting IP cameras, but it's also handy for those times you're having trouble figuring out why a customer can't connect their smartphone to their DVR.

Or if you're sure the IT guy is trying to BS you on why you can't connect to his network, but you can't quite put your finger on why, certainly not solidly enough to call him on it.

Or if you're trying to coordinate with the IT department and it just makes it easier if you speak their language, especially since they probably have no interest in speaking yours (cameras).


You are correct in your statement that "real camera skills are... underestimated and underappreciated." but I have to agree with almost every other poster who says, in effect, networking is the most difficult-to-understand component of a modern system.

One big reason, in my estimation, is the difficulty and expense involved in becoming network-proficient. Although the industry is (slowly) changing, most network programming is still based on CLI. The language is complex and even a relatively small typo or missing parameter can have a disastrous effect.

This is something I've complained about for years: If darn near everything else in the IT world can be made either plug and play or with a simple, easy-to-understand setup interface, why is networking "stuck" in the DOS era?

CLI still has its uses, even today. We have found that you can get a much quicker overview of a device via CLI instead of the GUI. True die hard techs still prefer using CLI. Until those guys are gone and we have a comprehensive, well thought out GUI, CLI will remain in use.

Jon speaks the truth!

At a previous job, as computer tech for a digital arts school, one of the start-of-semester tasks after reinstalling Windows and the relevant software on all the workstations, was installing all the plugins for the various programs (XSI, Photoshop, etc.). This was done by simply copying them into the relevant subdirectory under each program's folder.

One tech was doing it the hard way, taking a CD around to every machine, one at a time... until I fired up a CLI, and with a single line containing a FOR loop and an XCOPY command, pushed the plugins out to every machine on the network (those without that software simply rejected the files as a "destination not found").

That tech has ever since referred to it as "Matt's black-screen shit" :)

Minor point of clarification. When a IT network guru refers to CLI in the context of networking programming, he is most likely to be referring to Cisco's CLI, not a Windows CMD prompt (no offense intended.) Being proficient in Cisco's CLI was the distinguishing skill that separated the hacks from the hack-nots. Carl will be happy to know that this is changing.

This course will no doubt cover some useful Windows commands issued thru their CLI, but configuring Cisco routers from the cisco command line is probably outside of its scope.

The language is complex and even a relatively small typo or missing parameter can have a disastrous effect.

While I don't disagree that proper syntax is important, I 'learned' computers as a gradeschooler using GW-BASIC and early versions of DOS. A room full of kids barely able to do long division were able to navigate a non-GUI file structure.

I'm not saying that command line is easier than GUI to learn, but it isn't difficult. I really appreciate having been taught CLI early. It really formed a good comprehension of how computers (well MS-DOS/ Unix) operate.

I wonder if the upcoming 'app generation' is going to be as hardware & software troubleshooting savvy as we are?

Learning CLI also has the advantage of teaching you more about what's actually happening under the hood, which can often give more insight into what's happening behind the GUI as well.


I was also proficient in DOS, particularly batch files and config.sys. I also learned a modicum of basica as the manager of a Radio Shack repair center when the TRS-80 Mod 1 was released without R/S providing us any troubleshooting tools ("poke" a # into a memory location, "peak"/compare, then step up one bit and repeat).

That said, at my age, I don't have a hell of a lot of interest in learning CLI, nor do I want to spend money on any of the numerous Cisco Certification courses available. At one point, I did try to learn via reading the manuals available online but found that Cisco's documentation was not oriented toward teaching IOS (i guess they would prefer we pay for the privilege).

Yes, there are self-study books available and if I really want to learn, I could do so for a lot less than the cost of certification courses... But then again, our Integrator chose to sell us Dell / Force 10 networking. While FTOS is very similar to IOS, there are quite a few differences as well and it is far more difficult to find instruction online. One plus - Dell network devices can be programmed via a web-based GUI. That is what I am concentrating on learning now.

You probably fixed my Trash-80 when I spilled an Orange Crush into the keyboard. ;)

Slow pokeing and peeking is about as low level as you can get, and I learned a lot from it, that's for sure. Though I'm not convinced that it's worth the time for someone new to learn at that level.

LOL. I find that many things I've learned over my long career that I find useful in my current job are not on the agenda in today's world. Things like basic electronics, troubleshooting to component level, DOS, etc. just aren't taught/learned anymore.

I still use my bench tech skills occasionally. Two years ago, our Server KVM system stopped working, which made it difficult to manage certain functions on our old system. I troubleshot the units and discovered power supply problems so I replaced a couple of electrolytic caps in each and the systems all regained full function.

Isn't recapping fun! /sarcasm

LOL. Of course, I have to admit there's a lot of things I learned over my long career that are completely useless today. Who needs to know vacuum tube theory these days?

I would think camera skill are underestimated and underappreciated as well.

But after taking the IPVM camera course, I tried to help client to find the "right" camera instead of just the cheapest that might works. Many times, client can't even tell me where the camera will be install, how high the camera will be mount on the ceiling or what exactly that you want the camera to see?

Speaking for me personally, I am interested in both and would have already been to the camera course by now if I was not under the impression that classes were NOT recorded (this was a while ago). I believe you indicated in one of your posts that that the networking course WAS recorded. That made the difference for me.

Secondly, I agree with a lot of the other comments here, but I think there is a bit of trepidation about connecting to the Owner's business network and the more you know, the more you can avoid problems that could potentially lead to litigation. As you have shown us through many posts, the amount of bandwidth taken by a camera can very SIGNIFICANTLY depending on many factors. So I would hope to get better at strategies to minimize the impact on the owner's network, and to prepare the owner for the increased network capacity (which, by the way, could involve an Owner cost that the integrator often does not see).

I have not taken this course, so I can't say what it covers. I can say that without having a basic knowledge of networking I could not have successfully sold many projects. It's happened more than once that I was asked to attend a simple system design meeting about function, features and locations only to have the IT director or CIO attend the meeting and start asking questions.

I'm certainly not certified, but I didn't glass over like a deer when he mentioned wanting multi-cast and I had to ask why and if he was ready, which he was not. On one project the IT manager had ordered a bunch of new Cisco gear and said "no problem" only to find out he had all Layer 2 products in the field, orr how about the time the network was being saturated by IGMP requests because the multi-cast feature had been enabled by accident on a few hundred channels and had a bad value in it.

How about the Corporate Security group that didn't tell the IT managers it was running port and connection software to validate every address used. This weekly test in the middle of the night created chaos until someone confessed it was being done.

Oh yeah....then there was the facility with hundreds of cameras and a few hundred terabytes of server based storage that was working perfectly. Management decided to out-source IT and a young tech thought it was a good idea to add the storage servers into the corporate domain. He learned this lesson for his next job.

IP knowledge is good for Access, Intrusion, Fire and CCTV (IP Cameras). Camera education is good for cameras. More opportunity for use, more value and more fear!

I have worked with companies that have hired an internal "IT Guy" who impressed the heck out of the owner with all his knowledge only to find out he was a hack in "jargon" disguise. Think about it, a guy with no network knowledge judging an applicant for an "IT job".

But hey, I'm just a sales guy!

IP knowledge is good for Access, Intrusion, Fire and CCTV (IP Cameras).

Even with non-IP cameras (whether analog, SDI, CVI, or whatever HD-transport-of-the-month), networking knowledge is useful for putting the recorders online, for in-house or WAN viewing.

Matt Ion and Greg Cortina speak well to the long term benefits of gaining a good amount of computer networking. I've often caught the IT person for a customer trying to sluff off doing their job or blaming something else, assuming I was just a security guy and had no experience in computer networking (where I originally came from). But by far the biggest BS'ers are the Internet Service Provider's technial support. Those minimum wagers want nothing more than to tell you there is nothing wrong with their service or equipment, that it must be yours, and get you off the phone so they can get back to texting or gaming on their cell phones. If you don't know what the real deal is, you will always be railroaded by them.

I particlularily like Greg's "jargon in disguise". I'll have to remember and use that.

But by far the biggest BS'ers are the Internet Service Provider's technial support. Those minimum wagers want nothing more than to tell you there is nothing wrong with their service or equipment, that it must be yours...

Yes, but only after they've had you walk through their little script of "duh, why didn't I think of that" troubleshooting steps - you know, unplug the modem, wait 30 seconds, plug it back in, is it working now?... have you rebooted your computer?... okay, I need you to click Start, and Run, and type CMD, then press enter...

That's still better than hp Level 1 support. For any (and I do mean any) issue, their stock response was "Upgrade your firmware and software."

  • Hard drive failed? "Upgrade your firmware and software."
  • Power cord loose? "Upgrade your firmware and software."
  • SCSI connector corroded? "Upgrade your firmware and software."
  • Etc., etc....

And if that didn't work (and it didn't the few times I tried it), L1 was at a loss. The most frustrating part was that at least some L1 Support techs wouldn't accelerate the problem to L2 Support. I struggled with a Fiber HBA problem for months with zero help from hp.

I finally happened to be standing there when the Server BSOD'd and the screen displayed a problem with storport.sys - something I had attempted to discuss with the L1 Support person at least a couple of times. It never appeared in the Event Logs and attempts to get a dump file had failed - the server would reboot on its own but never created a file.

When I called L1 back and told him the result of the BSOD, he said that hp was aware of the issue. Grrrrr!!!

for many dealers the understanding of ip networking fundamentals may be the roadblock that is currently preventing them from transitioning to ip surveillance/access control... they probably feel that they are already familiar or know everything they need to on the camera end so they are not as likely to sign up for that course...

I echo many of the posts above, which essentially explain that many people in our industry simply lack the IT/networking skills that are now required. However, (and obviously) this knowldge gap differs in size from individual to individual. As many of the previous posts explain, some people struggle with "more complex" networking concepts such as Bit rates, bandwidth consumption, VLANs, Qos, Multi-casting, etc. I contend that many sales people, technicians and installers lack far more basic IP knowledge.

I feel fortunate that I had 14 years' experience as a network engineer prior to migrating to the CCTV industry. As such, I am approached almost on a daily basis for assistance with IP and networking queries from sales people, technicians, contractors and dealers. Many of these queries are quite basic. For example, a sales person I know (who was a CCTV service technician for over 20 years) doesn't understand what IP address to assign to the default gateway on a DVR, even though he supplied the router and allocated it its IP Address. Or a technician that calls from site to say he cannot logon to a brand new Dahua IP camera on its default IP address ( because he is on a subnet.

IP Networking requires a new set of skills for the traditional CCTV work force, who are evolving from a pure analogue environment. I think it is great that so many people understand this and have signed up for your course! And well done to you John for offering the course.

"For example, a sales person I know (who was a CCTV service technician for over 20 years) doesn't understand what IP address to assign to the default gateway on a DVR, even though he supplied the router and allocated it its IP Address"

If you don't mind me asking, why does a sales person need to know what gateway address to program on a DVR?

Great question, thank you Luis.

All of our sales people are responsible for the design of the systems they sell. I know many companies differentiate between sales people and engineers but our sales people are also engineers. That way, there can be no problems with misinterpreting what was discussed with the customer.

Therefore, the sales person/engineer is responsible for creating or updating their own paperwork, including floor plans, schematics and schedules. They therefore need to be able to document all of the details, including IP Addresses, Subnet Masks and Default Gateways for modems, routers, DVRs, encoders, IP cameras, etc. Where necessary, they also need to (understand and) include details such as DNS servers, NTP servers, etc.

I hope this answers your question Luis.

Uhmm, whatever works. :)

Most VMSs configure the cameras automatically to default values that work much of the time. Working for a VMS that doesn't, I can tell you that many technicians don't know how to change camera settings, simply because they usually don't have to.

This pretty much echoes Undisclosed A's "toaster" analogy. It's true, though, that as important as it CAN be to know the ins and outs of how cameras work and how to set them up for better performance... in most cases they'll work just fine (or at least acceptably) out-of-the-box.

Bottom line.....Knowledge of networking not only helps technicians with the current equipment we use, it also gives us another level if customer satisfaction. I cannot count how many times my employer fixed simple networking problems for a large industrial customer we service, while there to install Analig cameras. Cool points go a long way to stickiness.

Hi John, in my case, my understanding of IP networking was self-taught and learnt on the job when an IT manager left a small company I was working for and no one else had any idea how our servers and Internet connection ran. That knowledge proved useful for subsequent jobs but I was always mindful that there were plenty more things to know about networking and so the IP Networking course appeals to me, even though I have already completed the IP Camera course.

John, do you have a rough idea of what motivates people to take any of the courses to begin with?

How much is it desire to learn more vs. desire to earn more?

Also, do you have an idea (based on invoices printed?) how much is employer reimbursed?

If reimbursed courses are a large percentage of the total, then perhaps someone working in security already might find it easier to sell an IP networking class to management than an IP camera class, since they might be expected to understand camera technology already.

I set up polls for our class tomorrow on these questions and asked Brian to run them. When he does, we'll post them.

Good questions.

Brian ran this in the access control course.

95% say learn more to 5% to earn more

70% paid by employer to 30% paid themselves

Of course, the question is how to interpret this, especially the learn more / earn more one.

Access control is not exactly a hot growth market like code schools are right now...

We find that, as a rep firm assisting integrators deploy our represented product lines onto networks (either existing production or dedicated), we are often meeting with their end user IT departments to ensure that there is a succesful deployment. Having a CISSP certified person on our staff has eased the burden, as many integrators cannot master "IT Speak" on their own. The ability of an integrator to get network training that specifically addresses the deployment of security devices, especially cameras, onto networks is invaluable. Just ensuring that the selected switches can handle jumbo frames, for example, is important for to a succesful IP camera installation.

You being "stumped" indicates a general myopic approach to surveillance etc. An IP camera is just another device, sensor on a TCP/IP networt. No different to any other IP compliant device. The power of an IP network has barely been touched by surveillance as the Internet of Things, brought about by commodity hardware, IPv6 (TCP/IP), ubiquitous connectivity, and open source, revolutionizes computing. Maybe a lot of your readers, including me, realize where the long-term value is.

Lol, it's actually the other way around. As a network engineer before coming into surveillance, I take IT knowledge as a given.

Also, for people in the video surveillance business (which I assuming are most people who pay for IPVM), being an expert in cameras is more important than being an expert an IT.


This is definitely one of those "Chicken vs. Egg issue" or "Foundation vs. House Issues"

If you are venturing into the IP camera world, both knowledge bases are important.

Networking Knowledge

In my opinion, you need to have a solid fundemental knowledge and understanding of how any robust IP network works before you slap devices onto it and expect it to perform or continue to perform as expected.

To be able to manage and support that network you must be able to understand the underlying communications and functionality.

From a simplistic perspective, a camera is just another 'IP device' that needs to communicate and be managed on that network.

More importantly, if you are coming into an organization that arleady has an existing IP network, you need to know and understand how to asses the current system(s) so that you can integrate properly without impacting the current performance. What is the IP schema used?, Are there any VLANs present? Does the organization use Level 1, 2, 3 & 4 level strategy for their infrastructure from Enterprise level to control levels?

These are just the start of assessing an existing system.

Camera Knowledge

On the other hand, a camera is of course more than just a network printer, desktop or VOIP phone etc.. (case in point, why your organization exists)

Your knowledge of how to properly select, where to place into an IP network and configure the a camera 'system' is very important as it impacts its overall performance and suitablity for use.

Unlike the old coaxial analog camera days where you have dedicated, single lines of communications between camera in the field to your monitoring/recording system you now have a shared communications resource , which when failing can be impacted by even the simplest of changes to the overall IP network. i.e adding cameras.

my condensed gut answer on this:

You buy out of the box cameras for particular FOV and installation applications. Pay money, get solution. No real knowledge needed. 

You cannot buy a correctly provisioned network out of the box. As a provider, they are being held to a new standard of knowledge which they've been unfamiliar with, and now need to represent themselves as an expert in. 


Cyber Security and Networking Background. 

I can see this is a fairly old thread that has been resurrected, but my 2c is that people who don't understand IP networking know they don't understand IP networking. People who don't know the details behind lens choices and imager sizes probably don't realize that information is important as it rarely becomes a showstopper.

Lacking IP networking knowledge can quickly become a showstopper if you're not working on a simple, flat network topology with a single subnet and gateway. Throw in multiple VLAN's with clients, cameras, and storage all on dedicated networks, multiple gateways, and a proxy server or two, and the uninitiated are stuck in the mire.