What is an IP-based Video Management System (VMS)?

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Before IP-based networks, the security industry relied on Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) systems, which put the "closed" feature front and center. These coax-based, stand-alone, analog video systems were electronic wonders.

Imagine managing thousands of cameras via pairs of separate video, power, and control cables, all physically brought back to a centralized matrix switch, and then — with more cables — sent out to individual monitors and displays to various locations throughout a facility.

Analog, coax-based video systems were a huge undertaking, plagued with an acute level of proprietary equipment with no common tools or procedures across manufactures. There were almost no industry standards, and of course, no integration potential, no remote connectivity, no apps, no diagnostics — you get the point.

About the author

Barbara Rizzatti is Communications Manager for the Americas at Milestone Systems 

Most in the security industry — integrators and manufacturers alike — saw the potential in the convergence of video and IP networks to advance surveillance and develop new opportunities to protect more people, more properties, and more communities with even more accessible, interoperable, and useful technologies. Video security and surveillance networks based on the TCP/IP protocol enable organizations to build video systems using standard cost-efficient video and computer hardware. Network video systems scale easily from one to thousands of cameras in increments as needed.

Another significant advantage of IP video surveillance is that IT departments already have the necessary skills and expertise to install and maintain the system. Cameras have IP addresses just like any other network device. IP networking enables the use of existing infrastructure such as servers, switches, and cabling.

Why is VMS needed?

As the name implies, Video Management Software (the VMS) is the platform that brings together all the components of a video network. The VMS provides the user/integrator with the tools necessary to manage, control, and support all the many devices, components, and subsystems involved. The VMS also manages the many different user types, tailoring to their specific needs and permissions levels.

The open platform

With an open platform VMS approach, new technologies can be integrated and deployed into systems very quickly. This open platform community of enterprising third parties can work together to drive innovation — each contributing what they do best while also advancing the whole.

By working together in an open platform community, users can lower their risks with unpredictable and fast emerging technology. We can embrace and assimilate technologies onto a platform and work together to address new opportunities on behalf of our customers, in innovative ways.

An open platform IP video management system can integrate with hundreds of camera vendors and third-party applications, including video analytic plugins and access control systems. With an open platform, organizations can leverage the power of choice to implement a solution that creates safer facilities and smarter, more efficiently integrated networks. Advantages of the open platform IP video system include:

  • Seamless integration with other security and data systems (including building management, access control, retail point-of-sale applications and parking systems)
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and substantial cost savings through the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and third-party applications
  • Scalable systems with easy and cost-effective expansion options as needs grow
  • Ability to add new tools and technologies as they become available

Market and customer requirements can change drastically over time. These evolving needs necessitate innovations and technologies that allow customers to implement additional functionality in a way that maintains their existing investment.

The partnership of IT and Security

Security firms have important market specialization and unique experience in many different environments. The seasoned security team knows how to develop effective surveillance zones and system capabilities for optimum security and surveillance. From knowing how to best light and set camera scenes with proper imagers and lenses, to integration with other building systems, to knowing how to handle and protect video data for use as admissible evidence by law enforcement — security professionals have a vast foundation of skills that are critical to security system success.

Conversely, IT professionals are the architects and managers of the networks that provide the tools and technologies far beyond the capabilities of the closed analog systems of years past. Today's federated, enterprise-class, fully integrated video systems allow end-users to address their security needs and improve their overall operations, facility management, and even provide enhanced customer services. The convergence of video and data analytics technologies has opened a wide variety of new use possibilities.

The security industry relies on the knowledge, technologies, and best practices from the IT industry to make security deployments secure and effective. From designing fail-safe networks built upon the latest hardware acceleration and cloud computing, to deploying Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and video data algorithms for actionable analytics, IT and security departments are now fully connected and integrated.

Opportunity exists when subject matter experts from both industries cooperate in deploying robust, highly secure surveillance systems that capitalize on the advances of both IT and security technologies.

Barbara Rizzatti

Barbara Rizzatti has more than 15 years of experience in the high technology sector. Her background includes managing marketing communications teams for several high-technology companies in the United States and France. She joined Milestone Systems as their Communications Manager for the Americas, in 2019.