Video Management Optimized for Large-Scale Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 07, 2008

Steelbox provides a unique and very attractive solution to large scale video surveillance deployments. In applications where more than a hundred cameras are being deployed in a location and a command and control system is being used, Steelbox may be the very best solution on the market. Of course, most customers do not fit this scenario but Steelbox delivers a very powerful solution to one of the fastest growing segments of the video surveillance market.

To appreciate Steelbox's value and differentiation, two elements must be properly understood:

  • Steelbox appliances maximize video distribution for large camera counts rather than optimizing for built-in features and branch office deployments
  • Steelbox reduces cost and redundancy by not providing an enterprise level client application

Steelbox Appliance

The dominant trend in video management today is software only applications that run on Windows or Linux. You buy a sever and software licenses from an IP Video Surveillance vendor. A technician loads the application on the server which can handle on average 32 IP cameras.

Steelbox approach is the mirror opposite of that. Steelbox provides a bundled hardware/software solution (an appliance) that does not require any loading of software. Each Steelbox appliance can manage hundreds of cameras (at 3MB/s each) in the same size format as a traditional server than only handles about 32 IP cameras. (Note: storage is separate from the Steelbox 'NVR' appliance.)

Most importantly, Steelbox integrates the video management into the operating system and does not provide a traditional application. This is significantly different than conventional NVRs. With conventional systems, providing software as an application loaded on a typical PC provides a lot of flexibility. You can use any type of hardware and fairly easily add in new management functionalities.

The penalty you pay for an application's flexibility is a loss in speed. For instance, you could run a routing or switching application and use your PC as a router or a switch. The problem is that it is dramatically slower than using a purpose built solution (like a Cisco router). Often, for client based tasks, this does not make a significant different. Even if it takes a second to open a web browser, you are only going to open a web browser every so often. When dealing with hundreds or thousands of video frames per second, the load or penalty in processing can be far more severe.

Steelbox dramatically increases the camera count that can be supported by simplifying the processing of video and eliminating the use of a PC application. For instance, the Steelbox 2500 (the size of a PC) can receive 1.5 GB/s of video, store 1.5 Gb/s of video and transmit out 1.5 Gb/s of video at the same time. This is 10 times or so greater than any PC based video surveillance offering on the market.

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

The limitation of the Steelbox approach is that the appliance itself does come with built-in video analytics or third party integrations. With Steelbox, you will have to do analytics in the camera or stream video out to a secondary appliance. By contrast, many systems are now touting performing of analytics inside the NVR. Similarly, while you can perform 3rd party integrations, these will come from using Steelbox's APIs or using a command and control/PSIM system.

Steelbox Client Application

Steelbox's architecture limits the complexity of its client application and, therefore, essentially mandates the use of a third party command and control/ PSIM system. Steelbox currently supports Vidsys, Telindus and SRI among others. Steelbox, of course, has its own client application that does basic viewing and searching but more sophisticated tasks, common in large applications, requires a third party system.

It is becoming common today for super large video surveillance deployments to use a command and control system to integrate the numerous sub-systems and provide a structured workflow. For this use, Steelbox approach is actually a benefit. One of the major problems with integrating video surveillance with command and control systems is the overlap and redundancy of functionalities. Most of the larger DVR/NVR providers have developed integration with numerous systems and numerous advanced user functionalities. The problem is so have the command and control systems. This creates waste and potential confusion about what system to use when. Steelbox eliminates this.

Steelbox Pricing

For large camera deployments, Steelbox is incredibly inexpensive. The MSRP for a Steelbox 2500 supporting up to 500 cameras is $35,000. That is $70 per camera for both the hardware and software (storage excluded). This is 50% to 80% less than the cost of an equivalent NVR/DVR solution. Even in a software only solution, the per channel MSRP for a software license is $100 - $300 and the hardware works out to be another $50 to $100. Steelbox provides you substantial savings, especially if you want to use a command and control system anyway.

Uses for Steelbox

Let's start with clarifying what are poor uses for Steelbox:

  • Small camera count per site (under 32): If you have quick server restaurants, bank branches, remote offices, etc, Steelbox is not a good solution for you. Steelbox does not optimize for small camera counts and you are better off with a more traditional solution.
  • Moderate camera count per site (32 to 64) but do not want a command and control system: If you want some system integration, mapping and other advanced functionality right out of your NVR/DVR, it is likely to be cheaper to purchase a traditional video management solution rather than Steelbox and a command and control system.

However, if you have very large camera counts and have need for sophisticated management system, Steelbox can be an ideal fit:

  • Large camera counts per site (more than 64): With large camera counts, Steelbox will not only reduce the cost of deployment, it will reduce the space needed and power consumption to deploy video management.
  • Sophisticated management: Steelbox's focus on fundamental video management provides an excellent complement to command and control systems. Steelbox will save you money on eliminated redundancy and eliminate the contention of whether to use the NVR or the command and control system for monitoring.
  • Existing command and control systems: Many large customers already have command and control systems deployed. Steelbox offers significant value for video surveillance expansion or upgrades for those systems. Rather than continuing to pay premiums for NVR/DVR functionalities you do not use, consider Steelbox as a very scalable and reliable alternative for adding new cameras or upgrading existing NVR/DVR units.
  • Conclusion

    Steelbox provides a unique and very attractive solution to large scale video surveillance deployments. In applications where more than a hundred cameras are being deployed in a location and a command and control system is being used, Steelbox may be the very best solution on the market. Of course, most customers do not fit this scenario but Steelbox delivers a very powerful solution to one of the fastest growing segments of the video surveillance market.

    2 reports cite this report:

    Steelbox Foreclosed - Purchased by ASG on Nov 19, 2008
    NVR provider Steelbox Networks has gone out of business in the last month.  Steelbox, a specialist in large scale video management systems, was...
    Should You Use Software-Only Video Management Systems? on Oct 30, 2008
    Software only has lots of the momentum. But should you use software only? While DVR/NVR appliances are increasingly viewed as antiquated, over 80%...

    Most Recent Industry Reports

    Nest Cam Outdoor Tested on Sep 23, 2016
    After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...
    ACTi Refuses Race To The Bottom, Shifts To Solutions on Sep 23, 2016
    The original low cost IP camera disruptor was ACTi. Back in the 2008 - 2010 time frame, Taiwanese manufacturer ACTi challenged the Western and...
    You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
    Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
    Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
    Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
    History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
    This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
    Access Control Course Fall 2016 on Sep 22, 2016
    IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...
    Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
    Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...
    Axis Launches IP Speakers on Sep 21, 2016
    First, Axis introduced an IP horn, then it was video intercoms, and now it is Networked Speakers? While IP-based Public Address systems are not...
    Tagged RFID Object Search Recorded Video on Sep 20, 2016
    Video analytics has gotten fairly good at tagging people in video, but it does not solve the problem of finding items like specific merchandise or...
    FLIR and Geovision Join the Hikvision Price Cut Race on Sep 20, 2016
    Hikvision's price cuts are clearly a trend setter. After numerous and increasingly large cuts, the destructive cycle is accelerating. Last month,...

    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