GIT SECURITY Industry Talk: Basics of Storage
Insights From the Editorial Office - DVRs, NVRs and Cloud Storage
Collecting massive amounts of data is the trend of our time. Higher-resolution videos, smarter software and interconnection of devices, not just in the field of automation, keep security companies in need of an adaptable simple solution to make use of the collected data. Therefore, storage providers had to come up with suitable solutions for these large amounts of data. Now, GIT SECURITY looks at the past and present in terms of how far we’ve come since video was first digitally stored. Get ready for a guided tour through the topic of video storage.
"Let’s record that movie, I want to fast forward the commercials.” Ever since the late 1960s, when video cassette players entered the consumer market, households were able to record normal TV programs. It was the first time people could actually choose the TV program they wanted, which meant skipping over commercials and leaving television producers in great fear of what might happen to the relationship with their TV commercial partners. As we now know, the big downfall of the TV industry has not happened. There is still regular TV with regular commercials, although TV stations do not have the monopoly to ignore their matured audience any longer, especially since the introduction of the digital video recorder (DVR). With that, it has become no longer necessary to keep video data on video cassettes. Now, the audience can even more easily keep their favorite shows and watch them as they please, and once again, TV producers and stations are at a turning point in traditional TV. This development in the consumer market is only one part of the story, the other shift happened in the surveillance market.
Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
The introduction of DVRs to the market occurred in the late 1990s. Therefore, it was finally possible to store video data in a more convenient way, especially for the security industry. In comparison to its older brother, the analog video recorder, which transfers the video signal onto an analog magnetic tape, the DVR can use compression technology and store video signals digitally.
DVRs receive analog signals over COAX cable directly from the cameras and store the data inside. This means that the DVR storage is fixed. It cannot be shared with other DVRs and is therefore limited to the storage capacity of the individual DVR. There are some hybrid DVRs that also support both, such as analog and IP cameras, but this is not the general rule. The typical camera limit on a DVR is at 32 cameras, making this storage possibility appealing to smaller and simpler applications with an analog system.
Network Video Recorder (NVR)
Considering that a DVR can only cover a limited number of cameras, there was a need for a more flexible and a more scalable storage solution, a need that was also driven by another market development. Most of the industry made a transition from analog to IP video connecting the devices to an entire network. Thus, the NVR came into existence. With the invention of the first centralized IP network camera in 1996, Axis was the first camera provider to push this development. There was an individual web server just for these cameras. Starting in 1999, the company used a Linux-based operating system, the same year that Mobotix brought the first decentralized IP camera to the market. Since then, IP systems have grown and matured to swamp the market and with that, recorders have also become adaptable to IP networks.
What does an NVR do?
NVRs support IP network cameras and they also offer more throughput and additional camera (50+) capacity. Another difference, as compared to a DVR, is that the DVR encodes and processes data directly on the device, whereas an NVR receives already encoded and processed video data from the camera. Further compression and metadata tagging can of course also be done directly on the NVR. On top of that, NVRs usually come with more features than a DVR, which makes them a lot more popular. It’s no longer just plain storage; decent video management software (VMS) comes with almost any NVR making the video stored even more accessible.
Speaking of managing data, depending on manufacturer, users can access the NVR through a network or over the internet. Many also have a web interface, making them accessible through the web browser. At the moment, the development of access through apps is increasing as well. It is also important to identify the factors that determine the use of the NVR, so end-users can figure out the best possible NVR type for their endeavor.
Depending on the manufacturer, NVRs store data either on an internal disk drive, an SD memory card, a USB flash drive or other mass storage devices. But users should be careful, that is, NVRs should always have ports for an external storage option and just because an NVR has a USB slot does not mean that it can connect with external mass storage devices. It can sometimes just function as a simple service port. Monitors, on the other hand, connect with the NVR over HDMI, VGA or video-out ports.
What is the Cloud all about?
The term Cloud Storage is used to describe a remote storage system. The user does not have to worry about the internal processes, because the Cloud appears as a whole and works like an intrinsically safe and scalable high-channel video server. The advantages are obvious: storage space is not as limited, it is a shared system, so there won’t be any loss of data, it is accessible from anywhere and requires minimal equipment. However, users should not neglect the fees for Cloud Services. They can depend on storage space or are charged on a regular cycle. Another factor that should be considered is the amount of upstream bandwidth your network can provide. Uploading massive amounts of data can slow down the network or result in very long upload times. This is a serious problem and one of the reasons why many companies still won’t use Cloud Storage. They simply don’t have the bandwidth that is necessary to upload all the data.
Can Cloud Storage be combined with NVRs?
Cloud Storage can be used alongside or instead of NVRs. What comes in handy is that the surveillance industry has already found some answers to this. There are NVRs that are specifically designed to connect to the Cloud. They can store the video data internally for only a short amount of time and can then upload it on the Cloud, even on a schedule if required. Cloud storage can function as the main storage or even as a backup for an NVR.
How Secure is the Cloud?
Data Security and privacy also have to be considered when choosing a Cloud Storage system. There are some security weaknesses in the area of Cloud computing. For example, the data protection laws for Cloud services depend primarily on location, so providers such as Google and Microsoft are ruled by the US law. This can be a problem, especially for sensitive company data, since the discretion is not always reliable there. Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that Cloud providers are attractive targets for hackers, so there is always the potential danger of data theft.
Users should find answers to the following questions:
- How many cameras will connect to the NVR?
- What is the frame rate and image quality?
- Will there be additional analytics software?
- How is the bandwidth capability?
- What compression technology will be used?
- How many sites do I have to secure?
- How do NVRs Store Data?