Open Architecture: A Strategic Investment

As the security industry experiences revolutionary changes, end users face the difficult choice of selecting the right security system. With constantly evolving hardware and features, the choice gets harder as capabilities double every 18 months, following Gordon Moore's famous law. End users adopt one of the two following approaches to select video surveillance systems (transmission equipment, recording equipment and video management software): single supplier (closed systems) or multi-supplier (open systems). The single-supplier approach is the easiest and most suitable when the end user requires either a specific feature set or it is not of strategic importance to have some measure of control over the evolution of capabilities.

Functionality, such as pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) control or connections between hardware encoders and decoders, is addressed in a similar fashion whether the system is opened or closed. Interfacing to third-party applications, such access control or intrusion detection systems, is done via system application programming interfaces (API) or software development kits (SDK). This is not more difficult to achieve on one system than the other. The one exception is that closed systems offer a bridge to hardware solutions, while open systems create abstraction layers to a multitude of independent hardware through a single interface.

For end users that require systems that can be tailored to every aspect of their security needsand that goes beyond basic integrationa closed system is not the solution of choice. Closed systems offer a single flavor or very limited variety of hardware equipment. Some equipment may exceed and some may be below required functionality. In each of these cases, end users either pay for functionality that will not be used or get stuck with functionality that is below their requirements or is less than state-of-the-art. The open-system approach allows end users to choose the right hardware for the right application, without making any sacrifices on overall system performance, as the software adapts to the performance of hardware that it is controlling.

Open video management software means not only freedom of choice of hardware, but also offers a single platform for managing all video-related activities. The choice becomes even more obvious when adding emerging technologies such as video analytics to the equation. There are many video analytic vendors and each offers solutions that vary in terms of performance and feature set. Some analytic applications are optimized to run on the edge while others are more suited to run centrally. End users can choose analytics that fit their applications and meet their performance criteria, without having to simply be satisfied with the one flavor of analytics offered by a closed-system approach.

Open video management software is a strategic piece of the video management solution that protects end-user investment in hardware as, most of the time, the only way out of a closed system is a forklift upgrade of the entire solution. The cost of an open video management solution is often misunderstood, and there is a tendency to believe that it is too expensive. Contrary to a closed system where the price can be shifted between components (giving away software and making it back on hardware), the price of an open video management system is exposed and cannot be combined or hidden with other system components. In the overall picture, when all components (transmission equipment, network equipment, servers and storage) are taken into account, the video management portion is the cheapest part of the equation, and this will only get smaller as systems grow in size.


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