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

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Comments (26)

"Plus, instead of long cable runs, now expensive switching infrastructure needs to be bought and maintained." -- Isn't that what a certain networking company with video cameras wants? They want you to buy their $500/port switch and annual support, maitenance, license, etc. fees. :)

You're right! I thought Anixter meant advantages for users, not sellers of the technology :)

Yes, I also laugh when they advertise that one of the benefits of ip devices (not only cameras, but also intercoms, phones, touchpanels, e.t.c) is the reduced cost because of the cabling. They never account for the extra complexity of the system, the exta PoE expensive switches needed, the management of the network, ethernet 100m limitation and so on. Yes, cabling might be cheaper, again not really an accurate point, maybe it applies when you are doing an airport or a mall which ithe answer I give when everybody raves about the cost savings with ip.

Expensive switches are not a valid argument today... A Netgear GS748TPS ProSafe 48-Port Gigabit Stackable w/ PoE is $1,386 or $29/camera including the power supply!

Enterprise PoE switches run $50-75.00 per port. I agree wityh John, Netgear, really?? Nice article on the Anixter front. They promote heavily to the end user. Are they still selling the end user direct??? That would be some great feedback!

@ Steve, Anixter's business model is selling directly to the end user. We use them mostly for cabling and alarm system pieces/parts, but have bought cameras from them in the past. They are comparable to Grainger or ADI.

Where did I or the article reference "Enterprise"? SMB represents a large percentage of surveillance applications and the switch I referenced was a mere example of a lower cost option. What switches does the gentleman from Illinois suggest? I yield the remainder of my time.

John, I think you've fallen into Cisco's marketing strategy, i.e., that you need "Enterprise" switches. Most of the Catalyst switches I've seen (in government installations) are in a LAN environment in which Netgear switches excel in price/performance.

Chris, my fault, I misread it.

Ed, my point about Catalyst switches is not that they are always needed but that the many customers that standardize on them are unlikely to mix in SMB switches from Netgear, Cisco 300, etc.

Btw, who thinks that a typical surveillance network based on Category cable and switches will be substantially less expensive than coax / siamese? I certainly think there are benefits of using the former but huge costs savings are generally not one of that.

@ Ed Vergara:

I think most people and for surely John know of the benefits Catalyst switches bring in a big "enterprise" network - everybody know their price also. On that level it is not easy to compete with Cisco, I think the only real competitor is Juniper and then maybe HP and Dell. I am talking about the CLI language, 4 hour replacement, smartnet program, and so on, the benefits are many and that is why they sell even if they are slightly more expensive. The requirements at the "enterprise" level are critical and so they justify the costs.

On the small business switches level - where I guess most CCTV installs fall under - then I am not sure if Cisco is more expensive than Netgear. Have a look at the 100, 200 and 300 level and compare it with the Netgear - last time I did they were very similar. They are also very similar to HP even though most people shout that HP is cheaper. This is from my own comparison and prices in my own country but I have done this exercise and Cisco 100,200 and 300 switches were very similarly priced compared to their Netgear and HP counterparts.

One brand that is much cheaper than the small business switches range from the big brands is TP Link, and maybe Trendenet, and there are probably other competitors also in that market segment. I do not have direct experience with them, but I am planning to test TP Link in some budget projects (even though their PoE switch range is limited).

Larger deployements with higer mega pixel counts require more bandwidth. Depending on the VMS, multicasting and if there are other devices hooked up to the edge (Recorders/viewstations require Layer 3 for optimal performance. Entry level switches normally do not have the feature sets. The we can get into the 10G edge to core and core to recorder.. Entry level at the edge are fine for the smaller deployements....

As the market continues to erode mega pixel camera pricing the need for more robust switches will continue to increase. The difference in latency is big!

There are plenty enough smart people within the company whom I think would have made similar criticisms before publication, if asked to review it. Any one of them could have turned it into something accurate without overstating any of the points.

Web page presentation allows progressive display of information ([more ...]) and so there shouldn't be an excuse for oversimplistic statements (print media these days are always space-constrained).

A much more interesting (to me at least) perspective would have been an article on 5 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR RETURN ON NETWORK VIDEO INVESTMENT - a how-to piece on leveraging existing communications infrastructure, and also respecting it (the two challenges involved in enterprise-wide video deployments).

In my experience the first argument simply doesn't hold, as the network issues involved in deployment of video don't parallel those of the typical business uses.

I could make fully valid arguments for the remaining four points, as I'm sure many others could. But the value propositions are different than the one's that are oversimplistically referenced.

Ray, I wonder if companies realize how their marketing reflects on their entire organization. This Anixter piece essentially says, "Anixter does not understand even basic video surveillance principles" regardless of how smart some of their people may be.

A few things I've learned:

  • Hardware costs of network throughput per unit pirce (often mislabeled as bandwidth) have increased, and will continue to do so. Nobody is building a LAN with less than 1Gbit speeds, and many are building 10Gig backbones. WAN and internet connections of 100Mbit, and much more, frequently are inexpensive. We are upgrading our WAN to our off-site data center from 1Gig to 10Gig this year.
  • Compression algorithmns have decreased bit rates, and H.265 will reduce bitrate requirements by half with comparable image quality[1] for QVGA and higher video.
  • Systems management costs for VMS and networks have increased, and will continue.
  • Demand for video, and quality video, has increased, and will continue.
  • 100 HD cameras at 1Mbit with H.265 will fit just fine in 1 Gbit network.
  • IT departments are becoming more involved with video surveillance, and like to use what they know - IP.
  • Management demands higher reliability, higher performance, and lower costs.
  • Management provides IT and IT security funding increases easier than physical security.

What does this mean? Hmmm...

John, I'd say some do and some don't realize how their marketing reflects on their entire organization.

But I think designated sales engineers and technical folks who talk to end users should be put in the approval loop for what gets published. Many benefits, insignificant cost.

Totally agree - "designated sales engineers and technical folks who talk to end users should be put in the approval loop for what gets published"

I think if anything this announcement shows the disconnect between the marketing and technical/sales people at Anixter.

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

"Going to IP" means "adopting only IP cameras, in all cases, no matter what" right? As even Marty Major wrote last week, no one believes "Going to IP" makes sense any more. There are many options, even for HD, and the savvy integrator considers all of them.

In any case, did the recommendations promised last week ever make it to publication last week?

We delayed them because of the Milestone announcement. We completed an integrator survey in the meantime and will release the results either the 2 weeks before or after ISC West. We are now coming up on a very busy, high news period.

Thanks for the update, John.

Does this survey you mention provide the reasons underlying your recommendations why every camera should be an IP camera? Or do you mean that the survey is another high-priority task that delays publishing the recommendations on the top reasons why every camera should be an IP camera?

IPVM continues to support the false equality between "IP video" and "IP cameras," which leads me to expect that IPVM would have at the ready a concise argument as to why every camera should be an IP camera in all cases, no matter what.

ISCW is two weeks Wednesday ... it sounds like you would publish either by this Wednesday, or after 12 April.

You are critical of manufacturers, so turnabout is fair play: You promised a deliverable within a week but didn't come close to delivering as promised. Now it's blown out to a nebulous time frame more than a week later. That's poor execution.

Your recommendations on why every camera should be an IP camera are likely to be of interest to our mutual friend Marty Major, who this week castigated me for continuing to point out that while IP cameras solve unique problems, not every camera should be an IP camera. Marty wrote, "Here's a clue: everyone already knows this." Except IPVM. I've never seen Marty dare to argue with the Spanish Inquisition, so I look forward to that.

We did a short survey of integrators asking them the top reasons and top barriers against using IP cameras. Those results are not time sensitive and can be released during periods of low news/events.

You can feel free to criticize me for not publishing it last week and for 'poor execution'. You can also feel free to cancel your membership, and I'd be happy to provide you a 100% refund.

I am trying to optimize our overall performance for thousands of members, not for a single salesperson of a fringe technology.

I grew up on IP - I was involved in installing IP data networks for years and then VoIP reared its head! And I see many parallels in the growth/implementation of Video over IP as in Voice over IP. The arguments of analog voice having five 9’s reliability, the amount of data being used to transmit data packets, the QOS issues, all sound very familiar to what the issues are when implementing video over IP. Yes I agree that you can’t get much simpler than one piece of coax between a camera and a DVR, but somehow we have “drank the Kool-Aid” and the world is moving to IP. We see innovations such as Cisco’s Medianet QOS, and DLinks Auto Surveillance VLANS making it easier to implement video on an IP network and we are seeing built in switches on NVR’s that help in creating easy to implement SMB solutions, and I suspect that we’ll see better video compression algorithms in the near future to reduce bandwidth, but the biggest benefits that I have seen, are not related to the data layers but actually in the physical layer:

1 – The approach to structured cabling systems makes it easier to organize and maintain a physical layer network that can serve multiple applications. (Usually – and yes I have seen some cabling disasters.)

2 – Having an integrated cabling system for multiple IP applications usually means a smaller footprint of cross-connects and interconnects – even if networks are electrically separate. Real estate is expensive!

3 – Common equipment such as patch cords, patch panels, connectors, jacks, tools and test sets can reduce costs for installation and maintenance.

4 – One labour pool to install a common cabling system can be less expensive than installing a coax/UTP based infrastructure.

Yes you can install baluns and use UTP cable but most security installations I have seen that do that, treat the UTP as coax replacement and don’t use structured cabling practices - so you lose the advantages of a structured approach to cabling.

To each their own...

We have decided that any new camera will be IP. We have plenty of old analog cameras that we are purchasing quality encoders to get them on the IP network.

Some of our reasons are internal departmental responsibility ownership and ownership of infrastructure. For instance, we have a network team dedicated to high-uptime on the network. We do not have a wiring team that does analog coax for video.

It seems like small or low-end systems are mostly standard definition analog video on a DVR box, where larger or multi-user or demanding users want high def on IP.

YMMV.

Roman,

PC's are all IP. But PC's have HDMI ports, USB ports, audio jacks, etc. Why? Because these interfaces are better than Ethernet for their purposes.

Local-site video transport between camera and local-site storage more akin to local connections between PC and peripherals that it is to telephony.

Off-site access to surveillance systems is more like telephony, where IP networks already have 100% market share. Surveillance is not moving to IP; surveillance moved to IP years ago.

[EDIT: Removed promotional, off topic comment.]

We'd have to write a book of comments to fully address the IP vs. coax discussion.

But a key difference is that analog camera capability provides a video signal. A decent IP camera is a computer with a lens and sensor, and this is one of the big differences.

I can split an analog video signal off and copy it without the monitoring center ever knowing. But I have to log on to an IP camera, which can log access and report access attempts via syslog. The IP camera can provide multiple video streams, high-rez for a local recorder and low-rez for remote viewing (yes I know a VMS and DVR can do that also, but I'm talking about camera capabilities).

An IP camera, being a computer, can run video analytics, store video in an SD card, and so on.

It's not just about the network part of it, but also the computing part.

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