Q&A From the Top

A conversation with Gary Perlin

Gary Perlin has seen numerous changes in the security industry, most of them involving technology that, a few years ago, would have boggled the mind. Perlin has stayed in lock-step with the forward movement of the industry, so we wanted to talk with him about analog and network infrastructure and how hybrid solutions are affecting the industry today.

Q. Hybrid security solutions have gotten a positive second look. Is recording video on the edge a sustainable plan?

A. A second look? I didn't realize that we had stopped looking at them the first time.

Hybrid solutions are those that integrate both analog and network infrastructures into a single device. The original hybrid product was an analog DVR that allowed for several IP camera inputs. Now dual-streaming cameras with both analog and network outputs also are referred to as hybrid. What does all of this have to do with recording on the edge? Not much, as far as I can see.

You record on the edge to reduce the amount of bandwidth required for a networked system. If you were not recording on the edge, then you would be forced to transmit a continuous fl ow of information to a remote recording site. Depending upon the quality levels and frames per second being transmitted, the strain on network bandwidth could be significant.

By recording on the edge, you are eliminating the need to transmit all of this data. Using analytics or simpler forms of motion detection, you can choose to transmit data only when predetermined activities or events occur, or you can schedule the edge device to transmit during certain times of the day when network traffic is at a minimum. Recording on the edge is a must for any networked system of considerable size.

Q. Due to the economy, is analog still a viable solution for end users?

A. I never considered analog and IP to be interchangeable. Both have their proper places in our industry's equipment arsenal. In the same respect, going back to analog is not necessarily a cost-savings move. Every project must be looked at in regard to what will best serve the end user in terms of functionality, performance and price. Putting networked cameras into a small convenience store would be foolish, as would placing analog cameras into a campus setting. Analyze the needs of each project, do the cost comparisons, mix technologies if it makes sense and give the end user what they need to do the job. More often than not, the "latest and greatest" is not always the best choice.

Q. Is a hybrid application a justifi able expense for an end user who knows that when economic times loosen up, the right installation really is IP based?

A. As I mentioned before, the proper installation is not always IP based. Having said that, putting in a hybrid DVR can be worth the small extra expense if there is a chance you will want to record off-site cameras in the future. Let's go back to that convenience store. It is small and requires only four cameras to record the areas of interest. You could install a four-camera network DVR that records all of the cameras and allows the owner to access the cameras and DVR remotely from home.

Personally, I would want to see an eight-channel DVR—for a slightly higher price—in this location to allow room for expansion should the need for additional cameras arise.

Let's take it one step further. The owner of this store buys a second store across town. If his eight-channel DVR were a hybrid unit, then he would be able to use IP cameras at the second location to transmit them to the original store and record them on the hybrid DVR. He is paying more for networked cameras but saving on a second DVR. Work the numbers for your particular project, and the answer will be clear.

Q. Let's talk about data storage. How can an end user balance storage demand with budget contraints?

A. The nice thing about memory is that it keeps coming down in price. Certainly, buy as much as you can afford, but you should also purchase a DVR that has the capacity to accept additional hard drives or external storage in the future. Another way to double storage capacity is to use a DVR with H.264 compression. This feature enables you to store up to twice as much information as an MPEG-4 unit on the same size hard drive. Finally, by adjusting your DVR's quality levels and frames per second and using motion activated recording, you can maximize data storage.

Q. Are there things an end user can do to lengthen the time he or she can use a legacy system, or is it inevitable that IP cameras will be installed everywhere?

A. Legacy systems using analog cameras will be around for many years and are still the predominant force in the industry. They still offer great picture quality in real time at a reasonable cost. Several companies are now looking into HD CCTV, which yields 1080p performance to compete with megapixel cameras, but uses the existing coaxial cable infrastructure.

Once again, there is a time when IP cameras are necessary, a time when analog cameras will perform better for less money and a time when the two technologies should be mixed in a hybrid system.

Q. What advice would you give a small-business owner trying to install the proper security solution?

A. Get quotes from several reputable firms and see what type of systems and technologies they are recommending and why. Be honest with yourself as to how your needs might change in the future. Don't buy more than you are likely to use. You will just be spending money needlessly and buying a complicated piece of equipment that might not meet your needs.

About the Author

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