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

Last Day Save $50 - May 2018 Camera Course on Apr 26, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on early registration. Register now (save $50) for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only independent...
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...
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,...
Worst Camera Manufacturers 2018 on Feb 26, 2018
Who is the camera manufacturer integrators have had the worst experience within the past year? 200+ integrators told us. Here are some...
Hikvision Deletes Genetec Support on Feb 20, 2018
There will be no peace between Hikvision and Genetec. A year after Genetec expelled Hikvision (and Huawei, citing Chinese government control...
Mercury Releases New Series 3 Redboard Access Panels on Feb 15, 2018
Mercury Security has their first major product release post-HID buyout, and things literally look different. The Series 3 SIO boards now are red...
Hanwha Wisenet X 5MP Camera Tested (XNV-8080R) on Feb 13, 2018
Wisenet X is Hanwha's high-end camera line. We tested their Wisenet X 1080p camera last year. Now Hanwha is offering 5MP cameras listing super low...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2018 on Apr 26, 2018
150+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management software/system? Why? Unlike the 2016 access favorites where a group...
Last Day Save $50 - May 2018 Camera Course on Apr 26, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on early registration. Register now (save $50) for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only independent...
Hikvision DarkfighterX Vs Darkfighter PTZ Tested on Apr 26, 2018
Hikvision has focused on improving low-light performance for PTZs, an area that has traditionally been a problem, even more so than fixed cameras,...
Digifort VMS Profile on Apr 25, 2018
Digifort, a Brazilian company, has a strong presense in their home country. In a crowded and mature Enterprise VMS market, will they be able to...
Death Of A Dummy Camera Manufacturer on Apr 25, 2018
5 years ago, IPVM gathered insights from a dummy camera manufacturer, who was then the top selling dummy camera provider on Amazon and 3rd in all...
Hikvision Critical Cloud Vulnerability Disclosed on Apr 25, 2018
Security researchers Vangelis Stykas and George Lavdanis discovered a vulnerability in Hikvision's HikConnect cloud service that: just by...
The Yolo Bro And The Death of Journalism on Apr 24, 2018
There's an old quote: The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable Unfortunately, the opposite is more...
DMP Adds Ring Video Doorbell Integration on Apr 24, 2018
Video doorbells have become one of the hottest items for security systems. After several years with no doorbell, DMP has announced integration with...
Milestone 2017 Financials Examined on Apr 24, 2018
For ISC West 2018, Milestone released ... their financials, touting "strong revenue growth in 2017". However, there were discrepancies with the...
Chinese Manufacturer Kickstarter Campaign Huge Success (EverCam) on Apr 23, 2018
In a week, a Chinese manufacturer's expertly done Kickstarter campaign has received $1.4 million in pledges, an incredible amount for a video...

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