Hardware will make the difference in successful deployment
- By William Ferris
- Oct 01, 2010
Most people in the industry are familiar
with how the NVR has changed
the face of security video projects
worldwide. As security hardware
professionals, you may have been asked, “Aren’t
NVRs just servers?” or “Can we use one of our extra
e-mail machines as an NVR?” You might answer with
a reserved, “Yes, but....”
As with almost all leading-edge technologies, few
product sectors ever sit idle without introducing new
advancements, and security video recording is getting
ready to make some giant leaps forward. Let
us look at the next big thing in NVR technology:
The Next Stage
The requirements for an advanced IP video management
system are simple: a group of IP cameras, a liverecording
NVR server machine and a storage server if
long retention times are needed.
Most security video projects require IP-based video
systems to be scalable and capable of growing with
the client’s evolving needs. These demands often call
for the strategic placement of multiple live-recording
NVR servers and storage servers across the network.
Continuing with this scenario, system managers need
to be focused on securing the servers, managing networks
and overseeing updates and other issues across
the NVR array. Virtualization is the next evolutionary
stage of the IP-based video management system. It
can provide great benefits when used correctly.
Preparation is vital to properly deploying a virtualized
environment. The key component to a successful
deployment is to use qualified hardware that can leverage
the software and hardware technologies together.
Windows Server 2008 R2 is a platform that embraces
the virtualization technology as a standard in its operating
system. The Windows platform has become the
platform of choice for the majority of the top-tiered
video management software vendors on the market.
Intel’s Xeon processor family is a key playmaker in
the virtualization revolution. It provides everything
from entry-level to enterprise-level scalable processors
that adapt to specific needs.
A New Standard
Virtualization will become the standard when deploying
medium- and large-scale IP-based video management
systems and long-term storage. Virtualization
allows IP-based VMSs to do more with less.
Instead of five to 10 live NVR servers taking up
5U to 10U worth of rack space in a server room,
virtualization needs only a 1U to 2U form factor,
which reduces hardware costs and energy use. The
sustainability factor in energy use and reduction in
materials is immediate and continuous throughout
the hardware life cycle.
By leveraging the technologies in the virtualized
system, it becomes an efficiently scalable system and
adapts appropriately to the current environment.
Hardware downtimes can benefit from virtualization
through quick and easy backups and restoring of virtual
server instances. In addition, it can create server
clusters that act as a fail-safe mechanism that automatically
takes control of a failing server. By combining
virtualization with a solid VMS, the road to efficient,
reliable and sustainable systems can be achieved
now and scaled for the future.
For example, a large school district, such as San
Diego, which consists of more than 300 schools and
facilities, is using an ONSSI Ocularis-DS platform
to manage all its locations. Each school has a physical
server and is connected to the Intranet through a
gigabit connection. The missing piece in their system
is a fail-safe mechanism that will allow for minimal
downtime when a server goes down due to software
issues. Their current procedure is typical of most IPbased
VMS environments: they replace the failed unit
with another unit.
This downtime can range from days to weeks,
based on the availability of the new replacement unit.
With an NVR virtualization plan that will allow for a
local and global fail-safe server environment on their
internal cloud, each local server would have two virtual
server instances. This allows for a local fail-safe
environment that improves the efficiency and reliability
of the system. The second piece to the virtualization
is an external environment that resides within the
internal cloud of their network.
The creation of a virtual server cluster environment
will allow these server clusters to be queued to take
control of failing servers on the internal cloud network.
This type of environment will give them the assurance
that if the local environment fails altogether, there is a
contingency plan to keep the system alive.
Benefits of Virtualization
The first benefit is in the sustainability for public and
private institutions. Making the systems easy to use
and maintain will translate to more systems being
purchased and installed over the long term.
Another important advantage of using a virtualization
environment is the immediate impact on
energy use. A 1U standard server can consume approximately
15 kilowatts a month. This figure does
not include any other additional equipment that may
be needed to support this 1U server, such as cooling.
Now take into account that a single 1-2U server (with
the proper hardware configuration) can virtualize approximately
10 server environments. By going from 10
physical NVR servers to just one, an institution can
save approximately 135 kW a month on energy use for
the extent of its hardware life cycle.
Costs and Savings
In the current economic climate, virtualization is an
attractive option not only to secure your business
or institution with an IP VMS, but also to cut energy
and hardware costs that are required to deploy
a medium- to large-scale IP-based system.
Some of the higher-end security-based NVR manufacturers
are starting to release virtual NVRs as part
of the feature set. The NVRs need Microsoft Server
2008 R2, which includes the virtualization architecture
as a standard and needs to support current and
future Intel Xeon processors with the ability to scale
to a multiple CPU configuration. Some NVR servers
are engineered for low-power consumption without
With many companies jumping into the security
product space, it is important to research carefully,
as not all machines are built with this technology in
mind. Performance and reliability are vital to NVR
design philosophy, so it is no surprise that very few
manufacturers can refresh their perspective hardware
monthly to keep the end product current with hardware
Future advancements will allow even smaller
form-factor, edge-based NVRs with the upcoming
embedded OS version of Server
2008 R2 to further reduce energy
use and increase efficiency of newer
This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Security Today.