The Value of Hybrid NVR/DVRs

The Value of Hybrid NVR/DVRs

Hybrid NVR/DVRs are appliances that can simultaneously support network cameras and directly connect analog cameras. Unlike NVR, a hybrid NVR/DVR eliminates the need for a separate video encoder when connecting to analog cameras. It provides simplicity and flexibility for analog users to slowly migrate to IP.

Hybrid NVR/DVRs are now being offered by almost all of the traditional DVR companies. It plays a critical role in video surveillance's common scenarios and allows for a smooth transition from analog to IP. About 80 percent of the currently deployed cameras are analog cameras that still have many years of service left in them. Hybrid solutions can utilize both analog and IP, providing users the best of both worlds.

A pure NVR solution is powerful but might not fit every user. The NVR system's benefits include the consolidation of video management and storage functionalities. Centralized servers and storage clusters can reduce equipment cost, power consumption and service costs. However, bandwidth availability is a big challenge.  Sufficient bandwidth is required for the video feeds to be transmitted to a central location from various parts of a facility. Inside the local area network (usually inside a building), bandwidth availability is plenty and fairly inexpensive. However, in the wide area network (usually between buildings or campus), bandwidth is scarce and quite expensive. To centralize video management and storage across the WAN could easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month, negating the benefits of consolidation.

Economic Benefits Compared to NVRs
A deployment site with less than 32 cameras would need to store and manage camera feeds locally. To optimize this operational requirement, the economics of hybrid NVR/DVRs are far better than pure NVRs. A mid-tier 16 to 32 channel hybrid NVR/DVR costs about US$6,000 to $8,000. The hybrid NVR/DVR does encoding, storage, management and serving of the video, all in one, with minimal on-site setup and configuration. However, a pure NVR solution can cost 20 percent to 50 percent more, and it is more complicated to setup and maintain.

This additional cost of the pure NVR solution comes from having to purchase standalone encoders to convert the analog cameras to IP ($200 to $300 per camera), purchase software licenses for the NVR ($100 to $150 per camera), and purchase a PC/server with storage ($75 to $125 per camera). In a large scale environment where hundreds of cameras were being consolidated, the cost savings often justify the additional complexity and setup time. However, if it is in a small setup, the costs are quite significant.

Migration and Selection
Hybrid NVR/DVR systems with lower cost and easier deployment are very attractive for users with moderate camera counts at distributed facilities. Deploying hybrid systems supposed to give you flexibility to grow into IP. A genuine hybrid NVR/DVR would be equally flexible with IP and analog. It would support a variety of analog, network and megapixel cameras. However, not every hybrid NVR/DVR is truly hybrid. Many of the so called "hybrid" systems offer only token support for mixing and matching of different network cameras. One common technique is to offer only a few additional network cameras, constrained to one or two IP suppliers, in addition to the 16 analog inputs. These so called "hybrid" systems may not offer the same advanced functions as NVRs. When most mainstream DVRs support the same type of advanced functions as NVRs do, users need to make careful selections of hybrid NVR/DVR to ensure a truly future proved system.

System's compatibility and easy user experience are key issues when selecting a hybrid NVR/DVR. To customers, the most attractive hybrid NVR/DVR often is the one that is offered by their existing DVR suppliers because only minimum training would be required for the security staff.

These details are very important for ensuring a smooth and successful system migration. Buyers should carefully consider these when choosing a hybrid system that best fits their needs.

About the author: John Honovich, PSP, is an independent researcher and consultant focused on the world of networked video surveillance. He is author of and has previously worked in product development and management positions at security technology companies such as 3VR and Sensormatic.

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