How to Migrate from Analog to IP Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 22, 2008

Migrating from analog to IP can be tricky, mainly because most everyone has existing infrastructure in place. You rarely can simply throw out that infrastructure and start anew - the economics usually do not support it. Because of that, you need to figure out what to keep, what to replace and what to modify.

The issues involved are too complex to provide a simple boilerplate yes or no. This report examines the most critical elements in making the transition from analog cameras to IP cameras so that you can better appreciate the issues involved for your circumstances. Nonetheless, you will have to spend significant time learning and evaluating as the issues involved are significant.

Here is a summary of those key elements examined:

  • Determine if your DVR supports IP cameras
  • Determine what IP camera manufacturers your DVR support
  • If needed, assess options for NVRs or IP Video Management Software
  • Determine if IP cameras can eliminate long distance analog cabling
  • Determine if higher resolution cameras can help you
  • Assess the increased bandwidth impact on your networks
  • Determine if you can afford increased storage for megapixel cameras

 

DVR Supports IP Cameras

First check whether your DVR supports IP cameras.  Most DVRs that cost more than $3,000 USD usually supports some form of IP cameras today. However, most of the more 'budget' type DVRs do not.

You should determine this first because it is the key element in determining how complex adding in IP cameras will be.  If your DVR does not support IP cameras, you have a few options, none of which I think are very attractive: (1) you could monitor the IP cameras directly with no recorder, (2) you could set up a separate NVR to record the IP cameras or (3) you could decode the IP camera's video stream to record them on your existing DVRs.  Most professional security organizations want a single video management system to record and access all cameras which means that you either work with what you have or replace it.

What IP Cameras Your DVR Supports

If you DVR supports IP cameras, you definitely need to find out what manufacturers and models of IP cameras they support.  Many DVR suppliers only support 1 or a small number of IP camera manufacturers.

This can be really confusing and surprising coming from the analog camera world. With analog cameras, no one worried about whether a DVR could support a fixed camera because once you supported 1 analog camera, you supported them all.  However, with IP cameras, you have to check every time for not only manufacturer support but for specific model support (i.e., a DVR manufacturer may support the Axis 207 but not the Axis 221).

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

Determining what IP cameras a DVR supports is very important because different manufacturs specialize in different types of products.  If your DVR only supports 1 or 2 camera manufacturers, this could cause significant problems. For instance, there are specialists in high end, standard definition cameras (Axis); budget standard definition cameras (ACTi); inexpensive multi-megapixel cameras (Arecont Vision); high end multi-megapixel cameras (IQinvision), etc.  You need to determine what types of IP cameras you need and whether those are supported by your DVR.

These first two points will help you understand the degree of difficulty of adding in IP cameras.

NVRs or IP Video Management Software

At this stage many will reach a point where you need to consider replacing your DVR system.  The emerging alternative are designed to support dozens of IP cameras. If you get to this point, this will be a challenge in and of itself.  There are dozens of companies that offer NVRs or IP Video Management software.

Furthermore, if you head in this direction you will need to determine how to support your existing analog cameras.  Because IP Video Management Software only supports IP video streams, you will need to purchase encoders to convert the analog video stream from your camera into an IP video stream that the IP Video Management software can handle.  Encoders are fairly expensive ($300 - $600 USD per camera) so it may be worthwhile but it is not without its costs.

This covers the fundamental product options and choices.  To determine if the migration is worth it, focus on the next two items.

Eliminate Long Distance Analog Cabling

All cameras need to be connected to a video recorder.  How they are connected can vary greatly.  The most common means for analog cameras is to use a dedicated coaxial cable to connect the camera to the DVR.  Indoors and over short distances, this is usually quite simple to do. However, if you need to go long distances, outdoors or through areas where it is hard to run a new dedicated cable, analog cameras can become problematic.

If you have multiple buildings or outdoor areas to protect, you may not be currently using surveillance cameras or if you are you had to resort to expensive proprietary transmission systems.  This is the most valuable and powerful use of IP camears.  With IP cameras, you have the potential of reusing existing networks in your facilities. You also can use low cost IP wireless equipment to add cameras in distant or outdoor locations.

To the extent that this situation applies to you, your motivation to move to IP cameras should be stronger.  It can either reduce costs by thousands of dollars compared to existing implementation or enable you to add new cameras in places that would have been previously cost prohibitive.

Use of Higher Resolution Images

IP cameras offer the potential to capture and record much higher resolution images than analog cameras.  While the maximum resolution of most IP cameras is the same as most analog cameras, one type of IP camera, the megapixel camera, can offer far greater resolution.

You should determine how and where you can make most use out of megapixel cameras.  Key determinants are (1) the greater the area you want to cover and (2)the higher your need to see details.  For example, a parking lot or cashier's station. By contrast, if you are observing a small office room and just need to know when someone was inside, a traditional standard definition analog camera will do fine.

Megapixel cameras come with two huge impacts that you must consider when migrating from analog cameras: bandwidth and storage.

Assess the Bandwidth Impact

When migrating from analog to IP, if you keep the resolution you record at the same, the impact on bandwidth (your computer network) should be minimal.  For instance, most commercial users record at 5 frames per second at CIF (320 x 240 pixels).  At these levels, bandwidth consumption is quite low (under .5 Mb/s) relative to today's networks (100 Mb/s ++).  Even with a few dozen cameras, this should not make a significant impact on even lower end switches.

However, if you want high resolution or framerates, then you need to start carefully assessing the impact.  With these conditions, each camera can consume 5Mb/s to 45 Mb/s, which starts adding up.  While you can purchases networking equipment that can handle 1000Mb/s or more, you should not assume that this is already in place and that you can just plug this in.

You certainly should test the bandwidth load before deployment. You may need to consider one of the following two options:

  1. Use a separate IP network for the cameras.
  2. Upgrade your existing networking equipment to make sure that it can support the load.

Both are certainly expensive and can have a significant operational and political impact with your IT's organization.  Though this can be accomplished, do not take it for granted as the cost and complexity can be significant.

Assess the Storage Impact

In a similar manner, increasing the video quality, certainly impacts storage needs.  If you use DVRs, you are likely used to buying storage bundled with the DVR (e.g., a DVR with 250 GB or 500GBs of storage for 16 cameras). With IP cameras and, especially with megapixel, you can easily be looking at 1TB per camera, which is a very significant increase. This could increase the cost of your system by tens of thousands of dollars.

You will need to better determine how significant this will be and your willingness to spend more for storage. Some organizations will find it to be no big deal but others may be shocked.

Conclusion

Hopefully this helps identifies key points so you can better assess your situation.

Please ask questions, add other points and debate the appropriateness of the recommendations made.

Here is a summary of those key elements examined:

  • Determine if your DVR supports IP cameras
  • Determine what IP camera manufacturers your DVR support
  • If needed, assess options for NVRs or IP Video Management Software
  • Determine if IP cameras can eliminate long distance analog cabling
  • Determine if higher resolution cameras can help you
  • Assess the increased bandwidth impact on your networks
  • Determine if you can afford increased storage for megapixel cameras

 

DVR Supports IP Cameras

First check whether your DVR supports IP cameras.  Most DVRs that cost more than $3,000 USD usually supports some form of IP cameras today. However, most of the more 'budget' type DVRs do not.

You should determine this first because it is the key element in determining how complex adding in IP cameras will be.  If your DVR does not support IP cameras, you have a few options, none of which I think are very attractive: (1) you could monitor the IP cameras directly with no recorder, (2) you could set up a separate NVR to record the IP cameras or (3) you could decode the IP camera's video stream to record them on your existing DVRs.  Most professional security organizations want a single video management system to record and access all cameras which means that you either work with what you have or replace it.

What IP Cameras Your DVR Supports

If you DVR supports IP cameras, you definitely need to find out what manufacturers and models of IP cameras they support.  Many DVR suppliers only support 1 or a small number of IP camera manufacturers.

This can be really confusing and surprising coming from the analog camera world. With analog cameras, no one worried about whether a DVR could support a fixed camera because once you supported 1 analog camera, you supported them all.  However, with IP cameras, you have to check every time for not only manufacturer support but for specific model support (i.e., a DVR manufacturer may support the Axis 207 but not the Axis 221).

Determining what IP cameras a DVR supports is very important because different manufacturs specialize in different types of products.  If your DVR only supports 1 or 2 camera manufacturers, this could cause significant problems. For instance, there are specialists in high end, standard definition cameras (Axis); budget standard definition cameras (ACTi); inexpensive multi-megapixel cameras (Arecont Vision); high end multi-megapixel cameras (IQinvision), etc.  You need to determine what types of IP cameras you need and whether those are supported by your DVR.

These first two points will help you understand the degree of difficulty of adding in IP cameras.

NVRs or IP Video Management Software

At this stage many will reach a point where you need to consider replacing your DVR system.  The emerging alternative are designed to support dozens of IP cameras. If you get to this point, this will be a challenge in and of itself.  There are dozens of companies that offer NVRs or IP Video Management software.

Furthermore, if you head in this direction you will need to determine how to support your existing analog cameras.  Because IP Video Management Software only supports IP video streams, you will need to purchase encoders to convert the analog video stream from your camera into an IP video stream that the IP Video Management software can handle.  Encoders are fairly expensive ($300 - $600 USD per camera) so it may be worthwhile but it is not without its costs.

This covers the fundamental product options and choices.  To determine if the migration is worth it, focus on the next two items.

Eliminate Long Distance Analog Cabling

All cameras need to be connected to a video recorder.  How they are connected can vary greatly.  The most common means for analog cameras is to use a dedicated coaxial cable to connect the camera to the DVR.  Indoors and over short distances, this is usually quite simple to do. However, if you need to go long distances, outdoors or through areas where it is hard to run a new dedicated cable, analog cameras can become problematic.

If you have multiple buildings or outdoor areas to protect, you may not be currently using surveillance cameras or if you are you had to resort to expensive proprietary transmission systems.  This is the most valuable and powerful use of IP camears.  With IP cameras, you have the potential of reusing existing networks in your facilities. You also can use low cost IP wireless equipment to add cameras in distant or outdoor locations.

To the extent that this situation applies to you, your motivation to move to IP cameras should be stronger.  It can either reduce costs by thousands of dollars compared to existing implementation or enable you to add new cameras in places that would have been previously cost prohibitive.

Use of Higher Resolution Images

IP cameras offer the potential to capture and record much higher resolution images than analog cameras.  While the maximum resolution of most IP cameras is the same as most analog cameras, one type of IP camera, the megapixel camera, can offer far greater resolution.

You should determine how and where you can make most use out of megapixel cameras.  Key determinants are (1) the greater the area you want to cover and (2)the higher your need to see details.  For example, a parking lot or cashier's station. By contrast, if you are observing a small office room and just need to know when someone was inside, a traditional standard definition analog camera will do fine.

Megapixel cameras come with two huge impacts that you must consider when migrating from analog cameras: bandwidth and storage.

Assess the Bandwidth Impact

When migrating from analog to IP, if you keep the resolution you record at the same, the impact on bandwidth (your computer network) should be minimal.  For instance, most commercial users record at 5 frames per second at CIF (320 x 240 pixels).  At these levels, bandwidth consumption is quite low (under .5 Mb/s) relative to today's networks (100 Mb/s ++).  Even with a few dozen cameras, this should not make a significant impact on even lower end switches.

However, if you want high resolution or framerates, then you need to start carefully assessing the impact.  With these conditions, each camera can consume 5Mb/s to 45 Mb/s, which starts adding up.  While you can purchases networking equipment that can handle 1000Mb/s or more, you should not assume that this is already in place and that you can just plug this in.

You certainly should test the bandwidth load before deployment. You may need to consider one of the following two options:

  1. Use a separate IP network for the cameras.
  2. Upgrade your existing networking equipment to make sure that it can support the load.

Both are certainly expensive and can have a significant operational and political impact with your IT's organization.  Though this can be accomplished, do not take it for granted as the cost and complexity can be significant.

Assess the Storage Impact

In a similar manner, increasing the video quality, certainly impacts storage needs.  If you use DVRs, you are likely used to buying storage bundled with the DVR (e.g., a DVR with 250 GB or 500GBs of storage for 16 cameras). With IP cameras and, especially with megapixel, you can easily be looking at 1TB per camera, which is a very significant increase. This could increase the cost of your system by tens of thousands of dollars.

You will need to better determine how significant this will be and your willingness to spend more for storage. Some organizations will find it to be no big deal but others may be shocked.

Conclusion

Hopefully this helps identifies key points so you can better assess your situation.

Please ask questions, add other points and debate the appropriateness of the recommendations made.

1 report cite this report:

Examining the CCTV Footage from the Marriott Bombing on Sep 21, 2008
Below is a recording of the actual CCTV footage from the Marriott bombed in Pakistan. It looks like it's from a DVR, recording about 5-8fps at CIF...

Related Reports

Blink XT Outdoor Totally Wireless Camera Tested on May 11, 2017
Running wires for cameras outdoors is one of the biggest challenges, especially for consumer or DIY installs. Now, Blink has released an outdoor...
48MP 180 Camera (Digital Watchdog) Test on May 10, 2017
Camera resolution continues to advance, with Digital Watchdog offering the MegaPIX PANO 48MP 180° camera, the highest resolution mainstream camera...
Alarm Circuits Guide on May 09, 2017
Alarm circuits are a fundamental element of wired burglar systems. Designing the alarm circuit greatly affects its performance. In particular,...
On-Board Storage Usage Statistics 2017 on May 03, 2017
SD card slots are now commonplace on IP cameras, but is on-board storage usage now common place? In 2014, integrators reported using edge...
Instant Cloud For Hikvision - Manything on Apr 28, 2017
One ISC West exhibitor had a very specific and clear pitch - cloud for Hikvision: In this note, we examine their offering, key differentiators,...
Avigilon Discontinuing Rialto Analytics Line on Apr 27, 2017
Avigilon is informing dealers/partners that the legacy VideoIQ Rialto products have been discontinued, recommending the newer ACC ES Analytics...
Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 26, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
IPVM First Dean's List W2017 - Thomas Atkinson, Matt Hurly and Fredrik Lundqvist on Apr 24, 2017
IPVM is happy to congratulate and celebrate our first "Dean's List", the top students in our courses. For the Winter 2017 IP Networking course...
Dell EMC Surveillance Division Profile on Apr 20, 2017
With revenue growth from traditional IT customers slowing, Dell has set a focus on the security industry as a market where the company can offer...
Access Control Course Spring 2017 on Apr 14, 2017
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Pelco Shutting Down Clovis Line, Laying Off 200 on May 22, 2017
Pelco's Clovis facility once turned out some of the industry's most popular products. Now, the facility is mostly building "obsolete" equipment,...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 21, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...
Hanwha Recorder Vulnerability Analyzed on May 18, 2017
ICS-CERT has released a vulnerability notice for Hanwha SRN-4000 recorders.  Hanwha provided additional information to IPVM about this issue,...
DMP Video Doorbell / Access Reader Examined on May 17, 2017
Consumers increasingly demand video doorbells, with "doorbells selling like hotcakes, everyone wants a doorbell", according to ADT's CEO. At ISC...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...

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