Understanding the Benefits and Limits of XML For Security Systems

Author: John Honovich, Published on Feb 02, 2010

While APIs and XML are useful for integrating security systems, their value and ease of use are routinely over-stated. This is nicely demonstrated by a recent contributed piece by a manufacturer in SecurityInfoWatch. The article boldly starts, "The days of security systems operating in splendid isolation from other organizational systems are over." The author explains that:

"Using the XML markup language for data exchange, integrators can, for example, connect an access control system to virtually any other information system that supports the HTTP protocol, regardless of underlying hardware, operating system, or programming languages."

This is, at best, only partially true. XML, by itself, does not ensure integration no more than using an alphabet ensures that you can read a foreign language (even if they both use the same alphabet).

A concrete example is PSIA and ONVIF - both groups use XML but they are totally incompatible. If you tried to connect a PSIA camera to a VMS supporting ONVIF, it would not work. The key problem is that they use different semantics. An example of this is saying "you" in English and "tu" in Spanish. They both use the same alphabet and refer to the same 'object' but the combination of letters have different meanings. 

Using XML but with different semantics is extremely common in the security industry. It's unlikely that any two XML based APIs from different manufacturers are compatible. To use a language analogy, it's like everyone uses the Latin alphabet but speaks in their own language. Even with XML, unless the 'language' is the same, you are forced to build a 'translator'.

The article concludes: "The days of security systems operating in isolation are over, and I think the dawn of an XML-API integration era is now in full swing."

XML usage is certainly in full swing. However, until we standardize the language and semantics of APIs (and not simply the alphabet) expect to see challenges, delays and costs in integration.

For background, review our overview of APIs and issues in using APIs.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on ONVIF

Axis Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial on Jun 07, 2018
H.265 support has improved significantly in 2018, with H.265 camera/VMS compatibility increased compared to only a year ago, and more manufacturers...
S2 Access Control / 'Unified Security Management' Profile on May 08, 2018
In our 13th access control company profile, we examine S2 Security's Netbox platform: Unified Security Management Platform positioning Core...
Vivotek 12MP Fisheye Camera Tested (FE9391-EV) on May 08, 2018
Next in our 12MP fisheye camera evaluation, we bought and tested Vivotek's latest generation FE9391-EV, a new model claiming improved smart IR...
Last Chance - May 2018 Camera Course on May 03, 2018
This is the last chance to register as the course starts next week. This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth...
Directory of Video Surveillance Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Exploits on May 02, 2018
This list compiles reported exploits for security products, and is updated regularly. We have summarized exploits by date and by manufacturer,...
Axis Launches ~$100 HD Camera on Apr 11, 2018
Chinese manufacturers, led by Hikvision, have come to dominate the low end of the Western market, driven by ~$100 cameras. While Axis has...
Hanwha Mega ISC West Product Releases on Apr 05, 2018
While overall new product releases have been slowing over the past few years, Hanwha is releasing a slew of 6 new offerings for ISC West,...
VMS New Developments Spring 2018 (Avigilon, Exacqvision, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix) on Apr 04, 2018
What's new with VMS software? In this report, we examine new features and releases for Spring 2018 to track different areas of potential...
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...

Most Recent Industry Reports

July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 22, 2018
  This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals. Register now. Lots of network training exists...
Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Hikvision ColorVu Integrated Visible Light Cameras Examined on Jun 22, 2018
When it comes to low light, infrared light has become the defacto standard in surveillance. But IR is limited to monochrome images, making colors...
'Secure Channel' OSDP Access Control Examined on Jun 21, 2018
Despite claiming to be better than Wiegand, OSDP's initial releases did not address the lack of encryption between reader and controller, leaving...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...

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