The Direction of VMS Technology
VMS technologies have come a long way over the past five years
- By Brian Carle
- Dec 01, 2017
Some of the industry trends
which have affected technology
and deployment design
include a dramatic cost reduction
in entry level NVRs
and cameras. Merger and acquisition activity
is reducing the number of independent
technology vendors and driving popularity
of single source technology providers and
server hardware lines by VMS providers are
now commonplace, allowing consumers to
obtain the complete recording platform from
a single vendor.
What might the next few years look like
for VMS technology? Herein, we’ll explore
trends and the direction technology may take
for VMS platforms.
Security is the current hot topic for video
surveillance and other physical security
systems, and for good reason. Several headline-
making network attacks over the past
few years have been made possible by security
flaws in internet-connected cameras and
DVRs. One notable, recent example is from
late 2016. Dyn, a major provider of DNS
services on the internet, suffered a sustained
Distributed Denial of Service attack, mainly
from compromised IP cameras and DVR/
Emerging from these events, VMS vendors
and security consumers see information
security features as strategic and differentiating
advantages. Some information security
technologies which will become more commonplace
- Encryption for system configuration files,
communications, and authentication.
System passwords and other sensitive
configuration information is at risk when
stored and transported. If authentication
or configuration information is either
intercepted during transport over the
network or copied from a VMS client or
server system, encryption will protect the
contents, making them unusable to those
without the encryption key.
- Encrypted video storage prevents video
on a stolen hard drive from being readable.
If a malicious actor has removed
video storage drives after gaining physical
access to a system, the recorded video
will not be usable.
- Two factor authentication provides an
additional verification step to validate
that the user name and password entered
matches the person attempting to authenticate.
In the event a password is used by
an unauthorized individual, the second
authentication factor should prevent the
individual from logging into the VMS.
- Encrypted export: Exported video is
most at risk of being stolen. The exported
video is often physically removed from
the organization’s building, and there is
no log of the access to the exported clips.
If the media is lost, any individual can
view the video, upload it to YouTube,
provide it to the evening news, etc. As
such, encrypting exported video ensures
only authorized individuals with the encryption
key will be able to view and use
- Automatic system patching or in-application
Video surveillance is becoming a much more
processor-intensive application. Many factors
contribute to the increased demand for
computing power, including increased deployments
using H.265 compression, 4k camera
resolution, and increased interest in deploying
real-time and search based analytics.
VMS Client workstations require substantial
computational power to decompress
video, scale the video to the screen size, and
display it. VMS recording servers may require
substantial computational power to
process video for motion detection, analytics,
transcoding, or other operations.
To drive down the cost of server hardware
and increase VMS performance, more
VMS platforms will work toward integrating
various co-processing technologies. Most
common among these co-processing technologies
are Graphics Processing Units, or
GPUs, which are the processors located on
a video card. When a VMS is integrated with
such technology, some of the computing
work will be processed by the CPU and some
by the GPU. Adding in a graphics card with
a compatible GPU will increase the computing
power of the client workstation or server
for much less expense than deploying a second
computer or a more powerful computing
platform that supports multiple CPUs.
Other co-processing technologies include
Intel’s QuickSync technology as well as
FPGA processors. Both of these technologies
will likely be less common than GPU
Interest in Cloud video surveillance deployments
is growing. However, such deployments
are frequently limited by bandwidth
constraints. The upstream bandwidth available
at a deployment site still largely dictates
both how many cameras can be deployed, as
well as the quality of the video available.
Despite scalability challenges, Cloud may
still be leveraged by traditional VMS platforms in unique ways, creating hybrid Cloud or on premise deployments.
Traditional video surveillance deployments include hardware installed
and owned by the consumer. The hardware will have a fixed
amount of storage capacity, and consumers generally don’t specify
more storage than is required due to the costs involved.
This traditional model is not very flexible. Often, a consumer’s
video retention requirements may change or scene conditions may
evolve, affecting how much storage is required to retain video.
Consider the example of a school; storage requirements may be
low during summer, but when school is in session, the additional
scene activity drives camera bitrates higher, necessitating more
As such, VMS vendors may offer video archiving services. In-application
options could allow consumers to pay for additional storage
in the Cloud. When local storage is full, video would be uploaded to
the Cloud for long term retention. Users can scale their video retention
at any time without hardware changes under such a model.
In addition to leveraging Cloud for on-demand storage, cloud
could be used for other “hybrid” applications, such as processing
video analytics or simplified remote access.
In the case of processing for video analytics, recorded video
could be uploaded to the cloud for processing and analysis, instead
of having a server onsite to perform processing. This model
could be useful in several ways. Take the example of a chain of
retail stores: It may be desirable to process a camera’s recordings to
generate a heat map, showing customer traffic patterns throughout
the day. Uploading video to the Cloud for processing eliminates the
capital investment in extra hardware needed to process the video.
Additionally, if the retailer wants to process either a different set
of, or more, cameras, on-premise hardware may not scale to the
new demands. Using the Cloud, additional computing power can
be obtained on-demand.
Finally, VMS providers could offer simplified remote access setup
using a Cloud service. Remote access to a traditionally deployed video
security system involves either using a VPN or setting up Port Forwarding
and Dynamic DNS, both of which involve setup complexity
and additional time for installation and configuration. Instead, a
VMS provider could offer a Cloud service the VMS is preconfigured
to connect to. The Cloud service would have a pre-established connection
to the local VMS server which would allow the Cloud service
to notify the VMS of requests for video from remote clients.
This configuration would eliminate the need for port forwarding and
DDNS or VPN setup because clients would not be making inbound
connection requests to the on-premise VMS servers.
The End Result
Competitive differentiation and market demand constantly drive innovation
in VMS products. More intelligent, secure, and flexible systems
seem to be the current direction for enterprise VMS technology.
These advancements will be enabled by co-processing technology
integration, creative leveraging of the Cloud, and
market demand for highly secure systems. The
outcome will be systems that can do more and be
easily expanded at lower cost for consumers.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Security Today.