Can Multiple IP Camera Standards Co-Exist?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 24, 2011

3 years ago, when IP camera standard groups emerged, we naively claimed that two 'standards' could co-exist. Now based on the last 6 months testing and working with these standards, we believe they cannot reasonably co-exist due to the cost for ongoing support and advanced functionality integration. 

The case for co-existince is based on the assumption that most of the cost is up front to get started. Take the time and effort to meet the specification and then you should be good to go.

Here are the problems we see in practice:

  • There are so many VMSes and so many IP cameras out there, that the service cost of figuring out why different combinations fail is significant. Inevitably, integrators call up support and open cases about why an ONVIF or PSIA VMS does not work with an ONVIF or PSIA IP camera. The vendor then has a hard choice: They can refuse to investigate and upset their customer or they can spend hours or days working with the other vendor to understand what specifically went wrong. Neither are attractive considering the industry is so fragmented.
  • Beyond simple streaming, customers are expecting standards support for configuration, PTZ controls, analytics, IO, etc. Adding this takes substantially more work - both up front in initial development and then ongoing to sort out the myriad service calls that will follow as various combinations fail in the field.

No doubt, even with these issues, efficiencies exist over conducting proprietary integrations with each vendor. However, faced with such ongoing costs and headaches, most vendors are going to be reluctant to absorb the ongoing support and maintenance costs for multiple standards. Or else they will support both but refuse to troubleshoot integration issues with smaller vendors (an even more disturbing alternative as it would decrease confidence further).

On a technical level, multiple standards can certainly co-exist. However, from a practical and business level, we expect vendors will need to focus on only one to minimize the operational cost of ramping up full production support.

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