Pitching a Better IP Solution
Turning technology staff into your biggest champions
- By John Bartolac
- Aug 01, 2014
Before you pitch an IP video solution, first consider how many
other systems are likely riding on the network: email, VoIP, access
control, fire detection, HVAC and possibly more. Who’s responsible
for maintaining the infrastructure that keeps everything up
and running? The IT department, of course.
IT professionals are becoming increasingly involved in video surveillance initiatives
across all industries. It’s time to build strong relationships with the IT side
of the house and include them in discussions about any new system that will piggyback
on their backbone. If done properly, by setting expectations and listening
to needs and concerns, you’ll gain a champion who can help you build a solution
that’s a win-win for everyone.
The Case for More Efficient Storage
Many times I’ve heard IT staff say, “I typically don’t get involved in the details
of video system decisions. They just tell me how much storage to provide and I
You could take that comment at face value and just throw a storage number
out there. However, if you really want to win the hearts and minds of IT, show
them how your IP solution can make more efficient use of their storage resources
without compromising security’s need for exceptional video quality.
Using H.264 compression. If you’ve ever walked through a data center, you can
feel the lifeblood of the company pulsing through every inch of real estate—from
the air conditioning units humming, to the fans cooling racks of storage devices,
to the raised flooring hiding the thousands of feet of cabling that underpin the
Clearly IT will have a stake in how much additional strain IP video storage
will put on that environment. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss H.264 compression
technology, an advanced video codec that maximizes compression while
maintaining video quality and frame rates to keep physical security, operations, LP
and executives happy.
Depending upon the amount of movement in the field of view (FOV), H.264
can reduce the size of the video data being transferred and stored. I saw a live demo
recently where a full 720p, HDTV, 30 fps video stream was reduced from 32Mbps
at MJPEG to 2.9Mbps using the H.264 codec. Even at this level of compression,
the system was able to maintain high video quality and frame rate. For the physical
security people, this means the ability to maintain forensic quality images. For IT,
it means a video solution that requires 80 to 90 percent less bandwidth and storage.
It’s important to note that some manufacturers may still use the older predecessor
to H.264, MPEG-4 compression technology versus the older MJPEG technology
which is rarely used in today’s solutions. Even in the case of MPEG-4, however,
H.264 would still consume 50 percent less bandwidth and storage compared
to MPEG-4 compression.
How do you translate that advantage into your proposal?
Here’s a recent RFP anecdote as an example. The proposal called for approximately
2,000 cameras that required various storage ranges—anywhere from 90
days of stored video from some cameras to as much as one year of storage from
others. In the initial calculation, the customer would need over 13 petabytes of
storage. Running the same calculations using H.264 codec, however, the demand
for storage dropped abruptly to only three petabytes of data. Even assuming commodity
prices for storage, that represents a significant savings in capital expenditure
and operating costs.
The Case for Additional Short- and Long-term Benefits
Compressing video and reducing the amount of storage leads to other short- and
long-term benefits for an end user’s company and its IT department. Among them
are reduced demands on the cooling system, power supply, data center, real estate—
which is always at a premium—and data load on the network.
Cooling systems. Data centers and rack rooms generate so much heat from their
equipment that businesses typically install a separate cooling system in order to
avoid overloading a building’s basic HVAC system. As more components are added
to the data center, the amount of cooling required increases in-line.
While advances in server and storage cooling technologies are reducing the additional
load on existing data centers, supplementary cooling needs for growing
systems will never be eliminated entirely. If, however, you can reduce the amount
of storage required for your IP video solution, you can reduce the amount of additional
cooling equipment needed to protect it. This represents a savings in additional
capital investment as well as the recurring costs associated with providing
power to cooling units.
Power. Adding storage, servers and routers to the network also adds to the
power consumption of any IT closet or data center. H.264 compression is a great
way to help keep that consumption in check, even as the system grows. It increases
efficient use of resources, which reduces the requirements for additional hardware
As new equipment is added to the IT closet or data center in smaller increments,
daily power consumption will rise in smaller increments as well. This translates
into additional capital savings for power-related equipment and long-term
operating savings for recurring utility costs.
Real estate. Data centers and rack rooms that house IT equipment require
physical real estate, which companies often lease or pay for by the square foot. It’s
an expense that sometimes gets overlooked when factoring in the cost of an IP video
solution. Even though advancements in storage and scalability have enabled IT to handle many petabytes of data storage in a single
equipment rack design, at some point, the rack and/
or the room will reach capacity.
Compression helps postpone the inevitable need
to acquire additional real estate by minimizing the
amount of resources required to support an IP video
solution. This means IT can devote more real estate
to accommodate the increasing data load from other
systems on the network by providing them with more
flexibility to decide how to use the space they have,
making them true company heroes.
The Case for Mitigating Cyber Threats
While the security department focuses on the chain
of custody for forensic evidence, IT worries about the
potential vulnerability IP video might introduce to
the network. Cyber threats are everywhere—whether
you’re talking about surveillance recordings or any
other electronic data traversing the network. Domestic
and global hackers are continually running programs
to find and exploit any and every unprotected
portal into a company’s infrastructure to gain access
to confidential data.
Any IP-based video proposal must address those
cyber threat concerns right from the outset. At a
base level, it helps to assure both physical security
and IT professionals that IP video components employ
the same authentication protocols and data
encryption procedures as other devices allowed on
their corporate network.
Authentication protocol. A main concern for IT
might be that IP video devices added to their network
might afford intruders a chance to use that device and
its connectivity to the network as a means to access
the internal network. This is a perfect opportunity to
introduce authentication protocols like 802.1x via a
PKI certificate that uses private and publicly-shared
keys to authenticate devices at the port level on a
switch and at the camera.
If someone attempts to access the camera, network
switch, and router or servers communicating
with the camera, the switch automatically shuts down
all traffic to that port. And, in the case of the camera,
it locks out access to the camera and its data streams.
This IP camera benefit will resonate with IT professionals
because they’ve been using this protocol for
decades to secure other devices on the network such
as laptops and PCs. And, now, with the proliferation
of mobile devices that can remotely access corporate
networks, systems and data, as well as third-party
partners granted permission to certain corporate electronic
assets, institution of strict authentication protocols
has inevitably moved from option to necessity.
Data encryption. There are a number of commonly
deployed encryption standards that can block
outsiders from grabbing a free ride on the company’s
Internet connection or decoding the content of data
streams on the network. Today’s encryption keys are
usually one of three lengths: 128, 192 or 256 bits. Including
IT in the conversation ensures that you propose
professional-grade video surveillance devices
that consistently employ all the same security protocols
as every other component connecting to the company
Even higher IT security standards. Depending on
the sensitivity of the data being protected, you might
also bring some government cyber protection programs
into the discussion. These programs are specifically
designed to address Information Assurance—
the protection of valuable data and systems—and
Authority to Operate—the adherence to an organization’s
highest standards for threat mitigation. The Department
of Defense (DoD) established the highest
of these standards-based criteria under its DIACAP
(Defense Information Assurance Certification and
Accreditation Program), which recently was renamed
to Risk Management Framework (RMF) for DoD
While most installations probably won’t need such
heightened protection standards as those outlined by
the DoD, any IP video devices installed on a company’s
network should provide some higher level of
protection. This could mean adopting and managing
policies that enforce greater vigilance to reduce the impact of cyber threats. Or, it could mean
using PKI certificates for authentication
instead of relying on more easily
breached user name/password schemes.
It pays to do your homework. Quiz
manufacturers and suppliers as to
what measures they have taken as industry
leaders to harden their devices
against cyber threats before recommending
their components as part of
your proposal. This is a major differentiator
IP video surveillance devices and consumer-
grade systems purchased online
or from a big box retailer.
Being well-versed in the types of
threats both IT and physical security
professionals’ face and having concrete
strategies ready for their protection will
help to instill greater confidence in the
proposed IP video solution.
Working across Departments
Since IT owns the network and all
critical business operations that rely on
its infrastructure, IT naturally works
with different stakeholders in different
departments. The best IT professionals
are masters at sharing technology,
resources and data across the entire
company. Today’s IP video systems are
being used for far more than security,
so who better to tap for advice, experience
and help with the execution of using
video to improve operations, sales,
marketing and more?
Turn the IT team on to analytics and
intelligent integration with systems and
they’ll likely begin envisioning different
ways they can use their assets—the network
and their own expertise—to share
valuable video data and systems with
the rest of the company. If done properly
with other departments on board,
budget resources could potentially be
pooled for your IP video system.
Getting IT in Your Corner
It always pays to have the company heroes
in your corner. While you’re touting
the benefits of IP video for physical
security—image usability, scalability
and functionality, and TCO, be sure
to include the IT team in that discussion.
Get to know what their concerns
are and learn the key factors that govern
how they protect their network and
data against threats. Then educate on
the proper configuration and ultimate
benefits of IP video.
Be sure the proposed solution is
easy to manage, has minimal impact
on other systems and data riding on
the network, and can provide business
intelligence IT can leverage with other
departments throughout the company.
IT may or may not be involved in the
nitty-gritty of system design and device
decision making, but any decisions
made will impact them and their domain.
When you can empathize with
the challenges IT faces and show them
how your solution can mitigate those
burdens, they are bound to appreciate
your efforts and be more likely to
champion your proposal.
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Security Today.