Debunking Anixter's IP Video Advantages

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 12, 2013

Anixter has been touting 5 Advantages of IP Video Surveillance. Unfortunately, those benefits center around dubious cabling / networking propositions. In this note, we examine each of the advantages, providing commentary and counterpoints.

Number 1 - Converged Network

Anixter declares, "a common infrastructure for both data and video traffic enables a cost-effective usage of expertise within the IT department." This has been the convergence dream for many years.

Unfortunately, IPVM statistics show this is typically rejected in real deployments, because of various logistical and political issues. The potential savings of a single network are more often offset by far greater complexity and risk. While this sometimes can be an advantage of IP video, it typically is not.

Number 2 - Open Systems

Anixter bemoans, "Traditionally, security systems have used proprietary cabling and variants of established protocols for the acquisition of the video signal and camera control. This has forced organizations to become locked into specific products."

Considering analog is based on standards, like NTSC / PAL, and IP is based on a hundred different proprietary camera APIs, this is a truly bizarre statement. IP video has been subject to far more lock-in than analog systems. ONVIF is improving and should eventually solve this, but this is certainly not an IP advantage.

Number 3 - Improved Functionality

Anixter affirms:

"One of the most significant benefits of digital and IP surveillance is the ability to effectively store, retrieve and analyze video information easily and quickly, thereby reducing the required operating manpower and associated ongoing costs."

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This is strange since they are, by their own admission, munging digital (i.e., DVRs + analog) with IP. Perhpas they are arguing against using VCRs, which would be pointless anyway. Equally peculiar, they leave out obvious IP advantages like multi-megapixel resolution, panoramic cameras, edge recording, etc.

Number 4 - Reduced Cabling Costs

Anixter claims:

"The single most important factor for improving ROI is the maximization of existing IT cabling and/or the strategic design of new IT infrastructures to accommodate security."

This, of course, implies that a converged network is being used, which statistically is not typically the case. Moreover, even when converged, savings are offset with increased costs. Many cameras are in positions far from network drops - ceilings, roofs, light poles - requiring significant new infrastructure regardless. Plus, instead of long cable runs, now expensive switching infrastructure needs to be bought and maintained.

Number 5 - Long Terms Costs

Anixter concludes with a look at the future:

"The flexibility to migrate and evolve with the changing needs of a business or technological improvements impacts the TCO greatly.... It has been estimated that MACs using IT cabling and processes can be up to six times more cost-effective than with traditional analog infrastructures."

Future proofing is always a guessing game as it depends on assumptions about the distant future. That said, even with an analog installation, Category cable can be used with baluns to allow for future flexibility. As for moves, adds and changes being up to six times more effective, this is a very vague claim. The cost of most moves and changes near to their original locations will not differ much between analog and IP. However, adding a camera far away might be considerably more expensive.

Coming Up

Next week, we release our own recommendations on the top reasons (and top problems) with going to IP.

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