IP Camera Tutorial: What is a decentralized video surveillance system?

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where they are using a word that's really out of context with the conversation and usually this happens when someone doesn't know the definition of the word they are using So, a long time ago, this is an example, a long time ago I was talking to a friend and we were both talking about someone we'd worked with and she was referring to this person as being "mercurial", and I was thinking to myself at the time, "I would not define that person as being mercurial"

And as it turned out she thought the word "mercurial" meant "easy going" or "going with the flow", and of course it means something quite different to that Recently, another example, I was actually in a restaurant waiting for somebody and there was a table full of guys, you know I think they were having a business lunch and they'd had a few drinks, and they got onto the discussion around politics and the idea of, or discussion around the idea of, a Republic came up and because of the fact that there were a few individuals that had varying ideas or definitions of what a Republic meant an argument ensued and, of course, the quality of the conversation dropped really quickly And this happens a lot online within the Security industry A case in point is the term "decentralized" The interesting thing about the word "decentralized" is that at the moment, in the industry, it has several different meanings and everyone is sure that their definition is correct

Or there are those that are fairly, I guess, agnostic for want of a better word about using the idea of using the term "decentralized" They will use the term, in the context of what they are talking about and of course that creates confusion as well For example there was someone who had asked a question on LinkedIn around "what the difference is between centralized and decentralized architecture" and they were asking these security professionals what their opinion is and what would be best for their particular situation And there was a lot of sweeping statements, a lot of assumptions made around the idea of "decentralized" So some were saying, you know, "you would never use a decentralized system in an enterprise environment because it doesn't have the management capability it is a very, very limited system"

Others were saying that "decentralized camera technology is limited to 64 gigabyte or 32 gigabyte recording" and others were defining "decentralized" as being off site and cloud recording So by the end of the discussion, if you read all the way through it, by the time you got to the end it was a dog's breakfast, it was very, very confusing and I felt sorry for the person who'd actually, who was the opening poster of that conversation because I don't think they were any better off at the end of it So I wanted just talk a little bit about that I have done a lot of videos and had a lot of discussions online around this subject so I apologise to those that have been following MxInstaller over the years this is something that you're probably educated on and fully aware of but for those that are fairly new to video surveillance I just want to discuss the difference between "centralized" and "decentralized" very quickly

The whole idea of decentralized, or that concept in terms of video surveillance was very new to me in 2006 So I've been in the industry for over 14 years now specialising in IP camera and IP video device technology and for that entire time up until 2006 I'd never heard the word decentralized used by any of the major vendors by any of the vendors

So as a product manager and when I was working for various distributors we would get marketing information and white papers and pre release information around technologies but never once did any of those vendors ever use the word "decentralized" And in 2006 when I started selling MOBOTIX throughout their marketing material they talked about this "decentralized technology" If you go to the wwmobotixcom home page they talk about decentralized technology as well, and what was interesting to me was even though that was the first time, in 2006 when I'd heard that term when I went back and looked right through their marketing material, right back to a CeBIT, I think it was a CeBIT exhibition marketing piece that they'd created in 2000 it talked about "decentralized recording" and that was a profound moment for me because it was a completely new concept, and of course after that for anybody that's seen my videos, and I've talked about this, it was a real shift in understanding about, around designing systems and buying them, the whole buying process, because the systems are so different

From MOBOTIX perspective "decentralized" means the camera is VMS-enabled The Video Management Software or the NVR functions are in the camera and that enables the cameras to record in a recording database format directly to hard disk, network attached storage (NAS) The decentralized system is also operating system agnostic You can record to Linux or Windows it doesn't matter Because of that most installers of decentralized systems will record directly to Linux , because Linux is low maintenance and it's a lot more stable than Windows

With centralized systems because the cameras are relying on external third party VMS servers and NVR's then for the most part they're having to record to Windows because most of the mature video management software applications are Windows based There's not a lot of options around Linux, unfortunately So that's a real advantage to decentralized But, unfortunately a lot of installers and security professionals are still defining decentralized around the idea of "where" the data is being stored, where it's being recorded So, they are saying decentralized means it's SD card recording, or it's offsite recording, or it's recording to a local storage device out at the edge and that's actually not the case

In actual fact, for the most part all the vendors when they talked about SD card recording they were referring to it as "edge storage" When they were talking about NVR's in a master slave environment where you have an central master management administration server and you had multiple NVR's deployed in various locations or sites That was referred to as distributed architecture and edge storage and "distributed architecture" these are two very, very different terminologies but to apply "decentralized" to all of these only causes and creates confusion So I just wanted to touch on that What I've done is I've placed some video links in the video description below – if you are new to IP Camera technology or the surveillance industry you can refer to those and I discuss the difference between edge recording, or edge storage, and distributed architecture and also decentralized as well

You might also like to check out our IP Surveillance Starter Guide it explains in simple terms the differences between "centralized" and "decentralized" surveillance systems The guide is available for download free of charge at wwwmxinstallercom