IP Network Hardware for Surveillance Guide

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jan 15, 2015

Video surveillance systems depend on running over IP networking equipment.

In this guide, we explain the key pieces of equipment and features, explaining where and why they are typically used. The topics covered include:

  • Fast / Gigabit / 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Ethernet Switches
  • PoE vs non-PoE Switches
  • Managed vs. Unmanaged Switches
  • Switches vs Hubs
  • Routers
  • Default Gateways
  • Media Converters - Fiber and Coax
  • Ethernet Network Distance
  • Ethernet over UTP Extenders
  • Network Interface Cards
  • Multiple NICs
  • Customer Premise Equipment

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Comments (38)

Good write up!

A server might have two NICs, where one is connected to the network of cameras and the other is connected to a common LAN composed of workstations accessing video.

In this case, does the server act as a router between the network? If so, are their any performance or security ramifications to be aware of?

I think the best way to think about the dual NIC is the server is part of two networks at once. Where a router's primary role is to direct traffic, a server is an endpoint or destination/source.

As far as security, I think most server 'security' takes place at the application layer. I'll yield to Ethan or John's knowledge to that end, however.

I know of some network guys who do not like the dual NIC setup. It is essentially asking the server to function as a router, which it is not intended for. In small and mid size systems it's likely a non-issue, as traffic is relatively light. In large systems I'm told it can indeed degrade performance. I have never tested this myself in a sizable system so I can't tell you how much it will degrade.

As far as security, routers simply allow better rule based setup, so if it's a top concern, a hardware router should be used. Again, I'm not an expert in these differences, this is based on discussions with people who are.

Speaking from an IT perspective, I would say that dual-NIC'd COTS servers with seperate IP subnets on each and static or dynamic routes between them is 'shunned', IMHO. For the reason that you give, you are asking a server to perform as a router, as well as application server or desktop or whatever else it does. Sub-optimal.

But a dual-NIC'd VMS setup is a unique case, since you needn't expose any routes from one subnet to the other, at least at the IP level.

Instead, as Brian very nearly said, the server has two seperate networks, and instead of the 'routing' taking place the IP level, it's really taking place at the application layer, by the VMS, when it reads a stream in from the one interface and then outputs it (either with or without some modification) to a client on the other interface.

This type of 'routing' takes place by the VMS whether there is one NIC card or two in the server, anyway, so why not have it place the packet on the proper LAN segment at the same time by using seperate NICs? As opposed to a single NIC that would have to output all the flow for destined for both segments to a router to seperate them.

Of course this router-less scenario has drawbacks, most notably to get to the cameras directly from the corp LAN, one would need to Remote Desktop into the VMS and connect from there. Which could be a good thing, depending.

If a server has two NICs and it is supported by the NIC, you could set them up for link aggregation. I have my HP servers set this way. I haven't setup any VMS in the fashion of a public local network to a private camera network. If I need to block traffic from the rest of the network, VLANs will be used with the appripriate rules set. I do think this is done on purpose built machines because it does attempt to make it easier for an installer that is coming directly from the plug and play analog world.

Ethan,

In my lab I DO test high throughput servers to see what breaks down as a regular task we do when we release a new server design to our DSS market.

What I found is that Windows does not like seeing more than 700-800Mbits TOTAL on a single NIC. In the past when I would drive 500M in from cams and 500M out to remote clients on a single NIC... performance suffered.

When I split the in and out paths...which is actually recommended by most of the VMSs I deal with...I could easily achieve the performance I needed.

The 'trick' is to use separate Subnets/VLANs on the server. I typically will use physical subnet-0 for cameras and subnet-1 for client/management. If I need additional NICs for performance reasons...they will be on subnet-2.

Example... 10.250.150.x and 10.250.151.y

In this way, each NIC is able to perform at its reated 1000Mbit speed no matter which flavor of Windows OS is running.

The other trick is to make sure that the adapters are not bridged in any way, i.e. the checkbox(s) that says "share this network connection" must be unchecked. Which I'm sure you know Mike, but often gets checked when troubleshooting multi-homed PC's by people new at it.

This is very true. In my early testing with Sharing and Teaming in Windows...I was quite disappointed in how the NICs got used.

The is especially true for vanilla Win7 Pro.

FYI...a good result is that data moves across teamed NICs in a load balancing fashion.

I have not played with teaming in Server 2012/R2 yet to see how it behaves.

"Avoid Hubs" should probably be changed to - Never Use a Hub.

I'm sure someone will read this and think..."They only said avoid but not "never use/don't use”.

avoid
[uh-void]

verb (used with object)
1. to keep away from; keep clear of; shun:

If readers don't get the message here, not sure that saying "never" is going to help.

I will say that I keep 1 old hub around as a just in case - for troubleshooting. If you don't have/access to port mirroring, you can use a hub to sniff the ethernet packets in case of serious troubleshooting, and have been involved in a few cases over the years where this was helpful. Of course, using managed switches and port mirroring is always the best way to sniff and capture packets....

So this is a great article and reminds me of years ago getting security guys comfortable adding devices to networks. I said plugging in a couple of cameras on a LAN shouldn't impact the network. They plugged in an old HUB because the switch only had one port free and had one of the cameras set to the gateway address with both cameras streaming about 4 Meg's of data. All outbound and inbound traffic ended and even local traffic due to the HUB broadcasting. Oh well.

Undisclosed C: That is an outstanding example which I hope you won't object to recirculating it on occasion! I once spent an eternity trying to determine by phone why the regional asset protection director and an investigator simply could not get video from the DVR to display on the monitor. That is, until I thought to ask "is it connected to the DVR's monitor out?"

Whit only one NIC you could have a avalabilty problems depending on the number of cameras and bit rate.

Using two NIC if the first one (for cameras) has problem the second one is free for remote controll.

The option are:

  • two different newtworks
  • two different subnet
  • use VLAN

With a smart (managed) switch with traffing policy (QoS) you could use a single NIC

Exacq says:

I think that we should consider different solution for diffent kind of system (es 4ch max 10Mbps, 9ch max 100Mbps, ecc)

"Additionally, routers often do not support switch functions such as VLANs, which may be necessary in surveillance."

This may be true on consumer routers, but most of the inexpensive routers past the consumer market support VLANs and trunk ports. I have found this to be true in Sonicwalls and Ubiquiti products above their AirRouter(consumer router that has been extremely stable in very small business networks). Before I used the EDGE router lite, I could do VLANs with a Watchguard with pfsense router software flashed on it.

Great article. Much thanks.

I do not understand your explanation for the following question in the above quiz : "which of the following network options below maxes out at 125,000,000 B/s"

in the explanation it is written GbE is the right answer although the GbE provides 1000 Mb/s (=1000,000 b/s) and not 1000,000,000 b/s which is 125,000,000 B/s.

In computer networking, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE or 1 GigE) is a term describing various technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second (1,000,000,000 bits per second), as defined by the IEEE 802.3-2008 standard. - Wikipedia

"The default gateway is needed for computers on other networks to access the IP video surveillance equipment."

Is the default gateway not required on a small home / office network where the cameras and nvr are connected through the CPE router?

The default gateway address is required by those cameras or recorders that need to be directly accessed from the Internet.

Often for security, just recorder will contain the default gateway address, (normally set to the IP of the CPE router), making it the only device directly accessible from the Internet.

One downside to this approach is that in case of NVR/DVR/VMS failure, you won't be able to see any cameras remotely, even though they may be working fine.

Thank you for that reply. I mistakenly thought that because the router was the central connecting point that the cameras needed the gateway address to go through it to the nvr.

As a follow on question can I have:

Cam A 192.168.1.20 connected to NVR A 192.168.1.50 and

Cam B 192.168.2.30 conected to NVR B 192.168.2 90 passing through the same router that has address 192.168.1.1 ?

Assuming I do not need internet access on Cam B and NVR B.

Regards,

Jim

Do the NVR's have at least 2 ethernet ports(NICs), one for client viewing and one for the cameras (or a built-in switch)?

Sorry, I should have asked the question differently.

Can I have two different LAN’s going through the same (unmanaged) router?

Network A: 192.168.1.xx

Network B: 192.168.2.xx

Router IP 192.168.1.1

Network B does not require remote access.

Regards

Jim

Sure, you can put network A on one of the LAN ports, and network B on the WAN port (or vice versa).

Routers always have (at least) two IP interfaces, each with an associated address. In this case you would configure the LAN as the .1 and the WAN as .2, and the router would forward packets destined from one to the other as needed.

But then you still need a way to get to the Internet, for network A. So, I don't think this is what you meant.

If you are asking about when network A has the viewing clients and B has the cameras on it, then the usual way to approach it is to use a dual homed PC (one with two NICs), or a dual-homed NVR.

What's the exact hardware?

Thank you for the fast reply.

I'm not working on a particular installation at ther moment that requires this set up but just trying to better understand how LAN's work, and the need or not to give each LAN the Gateway address.

Thanks again,

Jim

To be clear, each Gateway address can belong to one and only one LAN (subnet) but there are two addresses per router. Each gatewayhas to be on the same subnet as the LAN it services, otherwise nothing could reach it.

Also routing two LANS using a home router as I mentioned above is technically possible, but not recommended, since they are designed to handle Internet level bitrates, and therefore would be slow.

good luck!

Thanks i never knew about hubs, i will be on the look out for them now.

Were any 802.3af 10BASE-T hubs even made?

Interesting differences between manufactures. Avigilon requires server and work station to have a 1 Gbps NIC card. Bosch specifies the card as NIC 1 GB I found the differences in how manufacture's list card requirements interesting.

Does anyone feel as if a "managed" switch is the perfect"fools playground" for untrained techs to kill the party? By that I mean, a dozen different interface designs on different vintage and manufacturer's equipment give foolish hands an opportunity to be the devil's playthings.

Good Read for sure. The information about the NIC really opened my eyes to the potential profit from building our own workstations. Essentially it hatched a new hobby to dip my feet in.

-Jordan

I was not a where that you needed a NIC for the computer to get on the internet. You learn something new everyday. So far this has been a very informative class.

Thank you for this information. As a maint. electrician I am learning a lot as I have not worked on this side of the field.

What is the difference between Ethernet and UTP?

Courtesy of Wiki

UTP cable is also the most common cable used in computer networking. Modern Ethernet, the most common data networking standard, can use UTP cables. Twisted pair cabling is often used in data networks for short and medium length connections because of its relatively lower costs compared to optical fiber and coaxial cable.

UTP is also finding increasing use in video applications, primarily in security cameras. Many cameras include a UTP output with screw terminals; UTP cable bandwidth has improved to match the baseband of television signals. As UTP is a balanced transmission line, a balun is needed to connect to unbalanced equipment, for example any using BNC connectors and designed for coaxial cable.

Unshielded Twisted Pair could include Category 3 telephone Comm wire through Cat 6 or beyond specifically designed to pass Ethernet data.

This discussion can also help your knowledge:

Ethernet-vs-UTP cable

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