The Integrator’s Guide to Migrating From Analog to IP Video

The evolution of video surveillance makes for an interesting history lesson. One of the first recorded applications for CCTV dates back to 1942 when it was used to view the launch of V2 rockets in Germany. Commercial surveillance applications began in the United States around 1947, according to reports from Kintronics, an engineering and consultation company that sells IP security solutions.

Roughly 10 years later, companies including General Precision Labs (GPL division) began supplying CCTV camera systems for education, medical and industrial applications.

Decades later, the first IP camera was introduced by Axis in 1996. Creating a major shift in video surveillance capabilities, these new IP cameras used an Ethernet network, rather than coax cable used by analog cameras, for communication. Video signals were then able to be sent as digital encoded signals instead of analog signals. The events of 9/11 catalyzed a surge toward more personal safety-oriented surveillance, ushering in facial recognition programs and other digital advances, and elevating the adoption of Internet-based surveillance cameras.

Fast forward to the present, when video surveillance is now being used and viewed from anywhere in the world via the Internet and wireless communication. While most end users would embrace the benefits of migrating to a total IP surveillance solution, it’s simply not always that simple!

Migrating from analog to IP can be tricky, mainly because most everyone has existing infrastructure in place. Budgets often prohibit a full-blown changeover, leaving users a bit perplexed as to what to keep, what to amend and what to rip and replace.

Areas Where Analog Video Rules

“While analog continues to lose market share year after year, the average price is going down, so it remains somewhat popular with smaller installs in very budget-sensitive markets,” says Larry Newman, senior director, sales, Americas, Axis Communications. “In addition to the allure of a lower price tag, some of these smaller installs may be able to get by with basic analog service versus the increased functionality and scalability that network solutions provide.”

The primary reason most end users are hesitant to fully upgrade from analog and/or hybrid systems to a network video system, Newman believes, is because they’re reluctant to simply scrap their existing system. “Many of them don’t realize that there are cost-effective ways to mi-grate, and that their analog system is likely costing them in the long run due to its limitations.”

According to Market Overview, the global video surveillance system market was valued at $52.45B (U.S.) in 2020 and is expected to reach $90.37B by 2026, registering a CAGR of 9.31%. The use of video surveillance in business is growing significantly, owing to the increasing need for physical security, coupled with the use of Cloud-based services for centralized data.

Yet, there is still, as Dan Reese, vertical marketing manager, for Bosch, points out a huge installed base of analog systems. For simple break-fix installations, recorders are predominantly replaced with hybrids, he says, and cameras are replaced either with new analog cameras or with IP cameras that have an analog output.

“The hybrid and IP camera options allow for a slow transition to IP, rather than a complete rip and replace. Most users would prefer the benefits of the latest IP cameras, but will forgo this for a very inexpensive swap-out of a few units.”

Aaron Saks, senior product & technical manager, Hanwha Techwin America, adds that there are two main applications where people may choose to stay in the analog domain. “The first is in the small business market where an end user wants the lowest price possible and has zero requirements for analytics or higher resolutions. The network infrastructure they have may not be capable of handling IP video without a substantial upgrade to switches and other hardware. The second and most common application occurs when there is an existing analog infrastructure in place that a customer wants to continue to use. They may want to upgrade their cameras to HD, but not run new cables throughout the facility.

“Replacing longer cable runs in parking lots or across warehouses can become prohibitively expensive compared to simply upgrading the cameras and recorder. Some jurisdictions mandate that old wiring must be removed in addition to any new cabling being run which can further add to complexity and labor costs, all of which keeps analog an attractive option for certain customers.”

For large upgrades and migrations, especially in high security environments, there is often no choice but to support older analog cameras to avoid vulnerable and even dangerous downtime, notes Jason Burrows, regional sales director, Western U.S., IDIS America. “24/7 reliable storage is the backbone of many of today’s surveillance systems and downtime can leave a facility open to lawsuits as well as steep legal and noncompliance penalties. This is particularly true for correctional facilities, airports and other transportation hubs, casinos, banking and financial institutions, datacenters, critical infrastructure, and a range other high security environments.”

Paving Pathway to Migration

When asked what he would estimate the current percentage of video surveillance market to be for analog and hybrid vs. IP/network, Newman states, “It’s tough to say exactly without accessing formal market data, but given trends in infrastructure development and the accelerated adoption of IP solutions over the years, I would estimate that the global market stands somewhere around 30% analog/hybrid versus 70% networked. The vast majority of enterprise and new major installations are networked.”

Tin Eng, IP camera product manager at Speco, estimates it at roughly 40% for coax (analog) and 60% for IP. The trend to migration is evidenced in both estimates, indicating a clear opportunity for systems integrators to capitalize. There are various techniques, strategies and technologies SIs can look to when encouraging customers to migrate toward a networked system. Saks points out that the key to a successful migration is to empower the customer to move to IP video technology as and when they are comfortable to do so.

“This is why vendors have come out with hybrid recorders or analog to digital encoders. Hybrid recorders allow customers to mix and match so that they are not paying for a forklift upgrade but can take advantage of IP cameras at critical locations and add more IP cameras over time. Staging the migration to match the customer’s budget and requirements over time is an important strategy to winning a contract where the budget is anticipated to be the biggest sticking point.”

The most important piece of advice that Newman offer SIs who want to migrate end users to a fully networked system is to listen to your customers. “Before launching into ‘how’ or ‘what,’ explain ‘why’ they should migrate,” he emphasizes. “Take the time to understand their current and long-term requirements so that you can recommend proper, scalable solutions. Accordingly, it’s essential to draw upon a total cost of ownership model to help your customers fully understand, and measure, a return on their investment.”

Darren Giacomini, director of advanced systems architecture at BCD Int’l, adds that, in most cases, it starts with an assessment of the existing infrastructure and its capabilities to support digital technology. “The best technology in the industry will fail miserably on a poor infrastructure. Start with a complete assessment of the capabilities of the customer’s network infrastructure. Identify what the existing network infrastructure is capable of supporting and provide the customer options for their physical security system.”

Reese advises integrators first explain to customers the significant benefits of IP systems. The superior resolutions and imaging capabilities of today’s IP cameras can provide far better scene coverage and image quality, which significantly increases forensics capabilities, he states. “And the onboard video analytics can be used to detect threats in real-time, allowing manual or automated responses that can often prevent incidents. Finally, the remote access capabilities of IP products make them much easier to monitor and maintain. System problems can be detected remotely, visualized with simple system dashboards, ensuring that the systems are online and performing normally.”

System troubleshooting can also be done remotely, often eliminating the need to roll trucks to diagnose problems. The integrator should also stress the importance of proper system design and maintenance to ensure a high level of data security. Products from trusted suppliers must be properly installed and configured to ensure that only the intended users can gain access to the system. Most reputable suppliers provide hardening guides that clearly explain how to achieve this, Reese adds.

Blending the Alternatives

Combining the analog and IP can not only be cost effective for the customer but also bring sales opportunities to dealers and integrators. For example, IDIS’ DirectCX offering is a type of technology that enables the blending of analog cameras/systems with networked solutions to achieve powerful high-definition surveillance over coax.

As Burrows points out, “There will be some projects out there where customers, for a range of reasons, don’t want to upgrade a specific site. They could be lower risk sites or earmarked for refurbishment in the medium term. In these cases, customers will want coverage but not want to implement a new VLAN or invest in IP. Then there is the need to avoid expensive and disruptive civil engineering works. This is often the case for car parks and other communal areas. When a customer seeks to upgrade their facilities, they will also want to benefit from high-definition coverage of communal areas such as parking lots where it’s difficult to run cable without civil works.

“Some customers will consider outdoor WiFi, but equally others will want to leverage existing infrastructure such as utility poles, masts and columns that already benefit for coaxial cabling. This is simple with an end-to-end solution that offers both IP and networked surveillance because there are no compatibility issues or a need for expensive integration. All the network and analog cameras can be managed from one VMS and one easy to use interface.”

IP encoders continue to be a viable option with respect to integration of analog cameras to IP-based systems, Giacomini adds. Leveraging an IP encoder allows the customer to eliminate immediate infrastructure upgrades, while still incorporating older analog technologies to their IP-based system.

Saks concurs, noting that, “Depending on requirements, analog-to-digital encoders can enable customers to leave their analog camera infrastructure in place but reap the benefits of moving to an IP video platform featuring a VMS. If the budget allows, they might add a couple of IP cameras at the most strategic positions where analytics, higher resolutions or multisensor cameras are needed. Likewise, hybrid recorders allow customers to blend both technologies in a way that satisfies current requirements but leaves a clear path to the future. Having everything integrated into one interface, one platform, one system, one manufacturer is a major selling point.”

A blended system allows former analog customers to immediately gain some of the benefits of IP. These, Newman notes, include access to intelligent features like motion detection and active tampering alarms to trigger automatic recording and send alerts via text or email. Most importantly, he says, moving from an analog to a blended system lets users utilize video management software to view live video on a web browser or any computer in a network.

Promoting Power of IP Video

The capabilities of IP video surveillance far exceed those of analog, and dealers and integrators shouldn’t hesitate to convey those to customers who are considering migrating. A key benefit Saks highlights is that, by moving onto an IP video platform, customers get access to more choices and economies of scale that can not only save money but potentially help generate revenue, depending on the organization.

A single multisensor or panoramic camera can replace four or five individual cameras and provide better resolution in each direction than individual analog cameras. Labor costs are also saved when a single cable carries all the power and data versus running separate power and signal cables for individual cameras.

Analytics can also reduce the cost of storing video by recording only on motion or analytic event triggers, or recording at reduced frame rates when no motion is present. This smarter use of data can enable longer retention times with less total storage required.

By investing in IP cameras that support open platform development, third-party analytics software can be uploaded as and when they are required on a per-camera basis, further reducing costs.

Selecting IP cameras with analog outputs is an investment in the future, Reese contends, while still maintaining compatibility with existing analog systems. The improved imaging capabilities, such as better low light performance and superior dynamic range, will be immediately recognized, he says, and the higher resolutions and advanced video analytics will be available to increase system effectiveness as the transition to IP progresses.

Another selling point is that there are huge efficiency gains to be made because the need for security, health and safety, and loss prevention managers to visit sites — many of which are often geographically far apart — to investigate incidents is eliminated.”

Erin Harrington as 20+ years’ security industry media experience. Contact her at erinharrington1115@gmail.com.

 

*Originally published on SecuritySales.com*