Guaranteed Video Storage Calculation? IomnisBy: John Grocke, Published on Aug 20, 2013
Calculating video storage can be daunting, presenting a dilemma for integrators: underestimate storage and then eat the cost or specify too much storage and risk losing the project with too high a bid. One video storage supplier, Iomnis, claims to solve this problem with a money-back guarantee that video storage calculations will be correct when using their design tool and hardware. In this note, we look at how they do this and whether it is a good deal.
The Iomnis Optimizer is an online tool where one can input the VMS offering, RAID requirements and OS along with camera information: such as number, model, compression, resolution and duration. Once input, the optimizer tool calculates the required storage, Surveillance Performance Index (SPI) value [link no longer available], and estimated bandwidth for the system. The tool then generates an MSRP price proposal for the required hardware. From there, the information gets submitted to Iomnis who will provide a formal proposal via one of their channel partners which are ADI, Anixter [link no longer available] and CSC.
Iomnis Optimizer in Action
This video shows the 'Optimizer' in action explaining how it works and how it pads to deliver a guarantee:
Guarantee Rests on Heavy Padding
As the video above shows, Iomnis' calculator estimates consistently high, making it easy for them to offer the guarantee. For instance:
- The Sony SNC-CH140 at 1.3MP / 30fps is estimated at 5.7Mb/s far higher than the 2Mb/s or 4Mb/s typically used for this camera. Also, since this series is CBR only, there is no risk of spikes.
- The Axis Q6035 PTZ at 1080p resolution at 30fps is estimated at 9Mb/s. This is a VBR camera, so bandwidth can fluctuate, but 9Mb/s is quite high, especially since its an indoor model.
- The Arecont AV5255 camera at max resolution and frame rate (14fps) was estimated at ~8.5Mb/s, which is just really high.
Indeed, the calculator's sophistication is average to below average (e.g., there is no option to select scenes or to adjust quality/compression levels). The only real differentiation appears to be the guarantee.
However, the guarantee will, in most cases, specify significantly more storage than one needs (~20 - 40%). It, no doubt, delivers a pleasant side effect of increased sales to Iomnis while being a safe number for an integrator to use as a design estimate.
Optimizer Tool Limitations
The tool does have notable limitations:
- Changing the camera default bitrate settings voids the money-back guarantee.
- The Iomnis Optimizer tool only supports the following VMS platforms for their Enterprise servers: Axis, OnSSI, Milestone, IPConfigure, Genetec, Exacq and Arteco.
- The Optimizer tool for their Pro Line Server (for smaller installations of 26 cameras or less) only supports Axis, Milestone & OnSSI.
- Other VMS platforms are handled on a case-by-case basis by Iomnis, however the money-back guarantee generally does not apply.
- The Optimizer tool only includes cameras manufactured by Arecont, Axis, Infinova, IQeye, Panasonic, Sony & Toshiba, but does include provisions to add "custom cameras" to include other manufacturers.
- There is no provision in the calculations for continuous recording at a low frame rate/resolution and "boosting" it to higher setting upon detecting motion.
- All quotes generated are list price, actual pricing comes later via one of their channel partners, which makes it difficult for an integrator needing to do a fast estimate.
Iomnis Hardware & Offerings
Iomnis' Enterprise servers and storage devices are COTS Dell machines that they "optimize" in-house specifically for video surveillance applications with software and firmware modifications, Iomnis does not add any hardware.
Iomnis 475 Series Server
Iomnis' optimizations are the claimed "secret sauce" that differentiates them from Dell, so they did not want to elaborate on the technical details. Their Enterprise class servers are available with either Intel or AMD processors and a variety of storage options including RAID 5 and RAID 6. Iomnis also offers hybrid servers [link no longer available] with inputs to incorporate analog cameras as well as a Pro Line series [link no longer available] designed for smaller installations of 26 cameras or less. All servers come with a 3-year warranty. One other interesting offering from Iomnis is their Focus Tool for aiming and focusing PoE IP cameras, however according to the Iomnis representative we spoke with they are no longer actively marketing it.
As an integrator, I used Iomnis on a ~100 camera project with no major issues. There was a premium price for Iomnis, compared to using Dell servers, but Iomnis reduced set up costs. Depending on an integrator's discount level with Dell, the premium is usually 10-20%. Iomnis not only loads the operating system on the server, but will pre-install the VMS software if a license is provided at the time of order which can save IT technician hours. Aside from importing the cameras and configuring the recording settings, the servers arrived ready to be installed in the rack. Iomnis was able to provide better tech support for video surveillance applications than what I had received from Dell.
Is the Guarantee Worth It?
With the fall of Intransa, surveillance professionals are looking for alternatives. Iomnis is certainly one worth considering as it offers a solid solution. However, their biggest marketing draw, the 'Guarantee' should be considered cautiously given the inherent storage padding.