Edge Storage / Recording Tutorial 2012

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 13, 2012

UPDATE: Go to the new / current edge storage / recording tutorial. This is old and is left only for historical record.

In 2012, interest in edge storage surged, making it one of the surveillance industry's hottest emerging trends. In this tutorial, we examine what edge storage is, how to make use of it, what cameras support it, what VMSes support it and what issues / limitations one may face using it.

Compared to Central Storage

Almost all surveillance systems today make use of centralized storage, whether it is a VMS server or a DVR recorder. Video is captured in a camera and transmitted to a 'central' location where multiple video feeds are recorded in the same PC, server or appliance.

By contrast, with edge storage, the video is captured, encoded and stored right inside the camera itself. Video does not need to be sent out of the camera unless someone wants to view live video or review recorded video. However, only IP cameras support edge storage; This is not possible in analog or HD SDI cameras that need to transmit their video to stand-alone recorders. IP cameras that record to their own local edge storage are often called 'single channel DVRs" as they combine both video capture and recording in one.

While video can be recorded to many storage mediums, the most typical are SD cards:

  • SD card slots are frequently built into cameras allowing storage to be plugged in.
  • One manufacturer (VideoIQ) builds hard drives into their cameras (though this requires a significant size increase).
  • A few manufacturers allow an external hard drive to be connected directly to the camera.
Though multiple mediums can be used, the far most common and most likely choice is SD cards, which we will focus our attention in this tutorial.

Common Applications

Three potential applications are most likely for edge storage:

  • VMS Server elimination - This is the controversial and 'exciting' one: Instead of setting up a server or deploying an NVR, just record inside the camera using edge storage and connect to those cameras directly using a client. This has the most appeal in sites with small number of cameras as VMS servers represent disproportionate cost and complexity here.
  • Network Load reduction - For low bandwidth networks, like wireless, recording inside the camera radically reduces the demands on the network. Instead of streaming continuously or whenever their is motion, now video only is transmitted when someone wants to watch live or do an investigation.
  • Recording Redundancy - Edge storage can be used as a back up to recording centrally, ensuring that no video is lost even if the network connection goes down temporarily or the VMS / NVR is offline periodically. When the connection to the recorder is reestablished, the recorder can request video missed during the downtime to be sent from the camera to it (note: must verify VMS support for this feature and integration with specific cameras).

Camera Support

Increasingly, SD card support is commonplace for IP cameras, even on low cost, low end models at no additional cost. There are two important limitations frequently encountered:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • Storage size
  • Playback / Recording Compatibility

Storage Size Limitations

While SD card storage sizes continue to increase with options up to 128GB commercially available, most IP cameras today only support a maximum of 32GBs. This is because of a format restriction, specifically only supporting the older SDHC format but not the newer SDXC (for background and details, review our SD card tutorial). We expect cameras released in 2013 or later to broadly support the higher capacity SDXC format but today, the practical max for edge storage is routinely only 32GBs.

Third Party Compatibility

Even if you can record video inside a camera, it does not mean you can easily retrieve it. Many IP cameras support SD cards but only allow for rudimentary opening of individual video files. Even for those that allow playback in a traditional VMS client, most lack 3rd party VMS support. For instance, today users expect to connect dozens of manufacturer's cameras to a VMS and record them all. However, with edge storage, most VMSes support no cameras and the few that do support 3rd party camera manufacturers, typically only record Axis.

Storage Reliability

Storing video on SD cards for years, including repeated re-writes of the drive, raise reliability concerns, especially since such use has little track record. On the plus side, SD cards are typically viewed as more reliable than mechanical hard drives. However, hard drives on servers allow for RAID while redundancy is not available for SD cards inside cameras.

Edge Storage Alternative - Direct to NAS

One alternative, direct to NAS, should be considered for those who want to eliminate VMS servers but desire less expensive and/or greater amounts of storage. See our Direct to Storage tutorial for the pros and cons of that.

Stealing Storage

Since cameras are widely distributed inside and outside of facilities, using edge storage means leaving the recorded video wherever the cameras are. Clearly, this makes it easier for an adversary to destroy video evidence. All they need to do is access the back of the camera and pull out the card. How much of a practical risk this is and whether users will accept it will vary based on the security concerns of the organization. We expect many high security facilities to view this as unacceptable while the rest of the market to be less concerned about this.

The Business Case for Edge Storage

The key financial driver for edge storage is that cameras are giving away the 'hardware' for free. Since SD card slots are increasingly ubiquitous, one does not need to buy a server for recording - each camera becomes its own server. This can save $1,000 as it eliminates the cost of the PC, the VMS software and the installation and maintenance labor involved.

The biggest financial barrier for edge storage is that SD cards are much more expensive per unit of storage than hard drives. For instance, buying (30) 32GB SD cards for 30 cameras could cost ~$1,000 more than buying a 1TB hard drive. While the actual differential will depend on ever changing storage prices, the steep difference in storage costs will remain for many years to come. Though eliminating servers saves money, the premium for SD card storage may often offset it.

Barriers to Edge Storage Use

The financial barriers for edge storage use are most painful when:

  • Large numbers of cameras at a single site: If a site only has 2 cameras, edge storage may provide great savings; at 20, it might be close but at 200, edge storage would cost far more as the economies of scale in using a handful of hard drives would far outweight using hundreds of SD cards.
  • Long storage duration: Even when cameras routinely support SDXC storage, the availability and pricing of large SD cards will be especially unattractive. For those seeking full frame, continuous recording or multi-monthly storage, edge storage may be financially infeasible or logistically impossible.

Future of Edge Storage / Recording

We see two use cases that will become common:

  • Free but Proprietary Camera offerings: Increasingly, camera vendors, following Axis, Bosch and Mobotix existing offerings, will give away VMS clients / edge storage management as an incentive to buy their cameras. This will be much more effective than camera manufacturer's historical approach of free VMS server side software as now, with edge storage, the recording PC is eliminated. We see this becoming a major force for customers with small number of cameras and basic surveillance needs.
  • High End Additional Feature to Open VMS platforms: Traditional server based VMS providers will position edge storage as a secondary option for enhanced redundancy and lower cost support for small camera sites that are part of larger systems.

UPDATE: Go to the new / current edge storage / recording tutorial. This is old and is left only for historical record.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

'As-Built' Drawings Tutorial on Mar 20, 2018
Closeout documentation can be invaluable for future expansions or maintenance work, and 'as-built' drawings are a key aspect for finishing projects...
Access Control - Restricted Keys Guide on Mar 15, 2018
Not all doors, even in larger facilities, can justify using electronic access control. And even for doors that do have electronic access control,...
Rack Mounting NVRs Tutorial on Mar 14, 2018
Rack mounting recorders is common in professional systems, but manufacturers are making it difficult, with simple design failures causing multiple...
Network Addressing for Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 14, 2018
The goal of this guide is to explain addressing devices on IP networks, focusing on how IP cameras and recorders are used in those networks. For...
Panasonic Selling Off Security Camera Factory on Mar 14, 2018
Panasonic is OEMing cameras from Dahua, as IPVM testing confirmed in 2017. Now, Panasonic is selling their security camera factory, according to...
Favorite Camera Manufacturers 2018 on Mar 12, 2018
A number of major moves in integrator's favorite camera rankings for 2018: Two manufacturers make major moves up One major manufacturer moves...
Vehicle Gate Access Control Guide on Mar 07, 2018
Vehicle gate access control demands integrating myriad systems to keep unauthorized cars out. Everything from high voltage electrical, to...
Cellular (4G / LTE / 5G) For Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 06, 2018
In this report, we explain using cellular for video surveillance including: 4G vs LTE vs 5G 4G standards 5G future Advantage: Placing cameras...
ADI W-Box Dropping Hikvision (Tested) on Mar 05, 2018
The next generation of ADI's W-Box (ADI's competition against their manufacturing partners) is here. And unlike the previous generation, which was...
ONVIF Usage Statistics 2018 on Mar 05, 2018
ONVIF has long 'won' the standards battle for video surveillance. But has the now 10-year-old ONVIF 'won' vs direct integrations? Undoubtedly,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Save $50 Ends Tomorrow - April 2018 IP Networking Course on Mar 21, 2018
Save $50 ends this tomorrow, March 22nd. Register now and save. Lots of generic network training exists but none of it really explains how it...
Dahua Global Launch LeChange on Mar 20, 2018
Dahua is getting into the consumer video surveillance market globally, with "LeChange", an offering long available inside of China is now being...
Axis Z-Wave IP Camera Tested Poorly on Mar 20, 2018
Z-Wave is drawing notable interest for video surveillance use. In IPVM's initial coverage, 84% expressed interest in it, with nearly half being...
'As-Built' Drawings Tutorial on Mar 20, 2018
Closeout documentation can be invaluable for future expansions or maintenance work, and 'as-built' drawings are a key aspect for finishing projects...
Hikvision RSM Professional Misconduct on Mar 19, 2018
A Hikvision RSM engaged in professional misconduct of a US State's licensing law, involving continuing education held at an ADI branch. In this...
Thank You - Today, IPVM Turns 10 Years Old on Mar 19, 2018
IPVM turns 10 years old today. 10 years ago, IPVM was an experiment. Today, it is the largest and most read publication in our industry. I wanted...
Integrator Help Desk Software Usage (Statistics) on Mar 19, 2018
Maintaining accounts and customer satisfaction often depends on the effectiveness of responding to issues. Keeping an integrator's support...
May 2018 Camera Course on Mar 16, 2018
Our next course starts on May 8th. Register now for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based...
ADT Hammered Again, Loses Another Billion In Market Cap on Mar 16, 2018
ADT's CEO told investors that, 'in baseball terms', ADT was batting 5 for 5. But investors told ADT's CEO, 'in baseball terms', that he was...
Camera Form Factor Guide on Mar 16, 2018
When selecting surveillance cameras, users may choose from a number of different form factors, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact