The benefits of ONVIF membership

July 2016 Security Services & Risk Management

“Being a member of ONVIF means being at the forefront of video management software, and it means being at the leading edge of driving security solutions forward,” says Stuart Meyers, managing director for Meyertech. “Adopting these global standards has afforded us extra resources to focus on product development and support, rather than having to spend time on individual integration. As a result, we pass on these benefits to our customers, ensuring that their investment is better protected.”

“As a member of ONVIF, Hanwha Techwin has the opportunity to participate in the development of interface standards for network products,” reports Lucas Lee, director of global marketing, Hanwha Techwin. “Companies that establish market standards are generally those who pioneer and lead the market, and Hanwha Techwin’s participation in the establishment of such market standards has led to its sustainable growth.

“In addition, using ONVIF has increased our brand exposure and recognition, enabling more people to learn about our products. As our products have been improved to be ONVIF-compatible with video management systems and cameras from third-party manufacturers, we have had more opportunities to provide outstanding solutions to a greater variety of projects.”

Tim Shen, Dahua’s marketing director, adds, “As a member of ONVIF, we benefit from receiving new protocol delivery specs from ONVIF and also receive indirect market promotion. At the same time, Dahua promotes ONVIF, educating the market on ONVIF and how its standards are positively impacting manufacturers, end users and the industry at large. ONVIF is engaging with Chinese engineers and manufacturers more and more in the development of new profiles. This is a positive step, as the Chinese market can contribute innovative features and ideas that can strengthen ONVIF’s profiles even more.”

Bob Dolan, director of security solutions technology at Anixter.
Bob Dolan, director of security solutions technology at Anixter.

According to Bob Dolan, director of security solutions technology at Anixter, “As part of ONVIF, Anixter is able to act as the voice of the client with the engineers at industry manufacturing companies when it comes to the potential requirements that are needed in a standards-based system. This includes installation applications for integrators and their clients, as well as system performance. ONVIF also allows Anixter to work more closely with manufacturers’ engineers to understand new products and features that customers request or that manufacturers want to offer.”

Ottavio Campana, product manager
for Videotec.
Ottavio Campana, product manager for Videotec.

Ottavio Campana, product manager for Videotec, explains why being a contributing member of ONVIF is crucial for Videotec: “Videotec products are designed to be used in uncommon scenarios, for example in hazardous locations or extreme environments. In these applications, we have specialised requirements that are not always used by other manufacturers. By joining ONVIF, we have been able to introduce these new functions to the standard, and after five years of participation in ONVIF, we see that there are clients that now support our advanced functions, so as a company, we do not need to establish a dedicated partnership programme. Furthermore, ONVIF is a good vehicle to make new connections and for networking, both with other manufacturers and with clients.

“So I would summarise the benefits by stating that thanks to ONVIF, we have increased both our direct and indirect relationships with the industry and with customers,” said Campana.

ONVIF’s Impact

According to Shen of Dahua Technology, standards benefit the entire industry: “I believe ONVIF’s standards have aided the growth of the IP product market. When manufacturers use ONVIF’s specifications, they can spend more time and resources on development, rather than expending human resources on ensuring their products are compatible with other manufacturers’ products.”

“Standards and their evolution have a positive influence not only on our products, but also on the whole company,” says Campana. “Thanks to the adoption of standards, efforts to guarantee interoperability are reduced and we can use the time that we save from this easier interoperability to develop new and unique features.”

“The benefits coming from the adoption of standards are reflected in sales and support, because R&D, sales, support and customers finally share a common language,” Campana continues. “When we all talk about the same topics with the same terms, it is easier to transfer the product value to the customers and to provide satisfying answers to our users when they have doubts or uncertainty regarding interoperability.”

“Anixter is not a technology manufacturer, but a value-added distributor that helps customers understand products and technologies. Customers are increasingly demanding that products and systems meet various performance levels, provide true open architectures and interoperate with their existing systems,” notes Dolan.

“A standard allows customers to know what minimum performance level they can expect from a device or system,” he explains. “As IT departments become more involved in the decision process for security systems, their reliance on standards-based systems allows them freedom of choice, ease of maintenance and improved performance for their companies. Anixter can guide clients toward these standards-based systems in order to meet their performance expectations. As manufacturers, ONVIF members can also contribute to the development of new standards based on what is happening in the market, which also motivates the entire industry to perhaps be more innovative in developing new technologies and products.”

Meyers reports, “We have received a positive impact from ONVIF in the security industry. It has provided opportunities to focus on the core development road map of our products and less attention is required for bespoke integration development.”

“As the security industry changes, global standards are also continuously evolving. ONVIF is the most important standardisation tool in the security sector and is developing global open standards to ensure compatibility between different products from different manufacturers,” says Hanwha Techwin’s Lee. “As ONVIF is increasingly adopted and adds new profiles, we are better able to integrate our systems with related technologies, which enables us to keep pace with the latest trends. Our efforts to develop an interface conformant with ONVIF’s profiles has not only allowed us to integrate with third-party products, but has also given us the opportunity to expand our markets and customer base.”

ONVIF vs. single system, single manufacturer solution

“Some businesses and end users do prefer an integrated solution developed by a single vendor,” says Lee. “But I think this will change over time as manufacturers work to improve their own features and launch more diverse products. A lack of effort to establish standards ultimately will narrow the customers’ right to choose what satisfies their needs using a wide range of products made by different manufacturers.”

“Yes, many customers are asking for all-in-one solutions because they can reduce the costs of purchasing multiple devices and/or services and can also reduce the cost and time spent buying from different suppliers. That’s why these solutions are so popular,” says Shen. “But even all-in-one solutions need the support of standardised protocols, which is in part why ONVIF’s profiles have been created to be simple, but also flexible.”

“A guiding rule of thumb is this: simplicity means 80 percent of the features are easy to use and stable, flexibility means 20 percent of the profile’s features are innovative and should anticipate the needs of both manufacturers and end user in the near future.”

“I don’t think all-in-one systems negatively impact ONVIF. In the markets in which Videotec is most active, it is almost impossible to have an all-in-one solution from a single vendor,” explains Campana. “Special environments require special devices and dedicated software, and interoperability is essential in this scenario. But also in small systems, standards can provide vital help to customers.

“Here’s how: buying a complete solution from a single vendor is not a problem by itself, but end users should try to have a system based on standards, in order not to be bound to a single manufacturer. A single manufacturer exposes the user to two main threats: the cost of proprietary hardware in the future, which can be much higher than the price of standard-compliant hardware, and, even more dangerous, the risk that the manufacturer may not stay on the market forever, which can limit the end user’s ability to extend their systems in the future, even if they accept the risk of paying more for the equipment.”

“No, definitely not,” says Meyers. “Our experience has shown that end users are more tech savvy and don’t want to be locked into proprietary solutions. We have also seen an explosion in consultants requiring ONVIF conformance in the bid process.”

Bob Dolan of Anixter states, “Although some customers have chosen single manufacturer solutions, they are still looking for the assurance that their systems meet minimum performance levels. In addition, industry standards are critical for customers that become dissatisfied with the performance of a particular component in their solution.

“By embracing manufacturers that adhere to industry standards, they can change direction to a different manufacturer without impact to their overall application. That level of confidence in their decision is more of a safety net and allows them to be in control of their solution.”

ONVIF’s next profile

“ONVIF is addressing several disciplines already, through profiles for video and access control,” says Dolan. “IT departments have more influence over how security components and systems communicate and integrate with each other, and other building subsystems and their management of these systems will advance.

“ONVIF should look at other building subsystems that are being pulled into network-based communication methods and offer a channel for manufacturers to collaborate efforts to on standardisation. This shift to network-based communication across all building subsystems is fuelling The Internet of Things. As a result, and with the assistance of ONVIF, video surveillance and access control devices have become standards-based sensors on the network.”

“Although there is more demand for integrated control in video surveillance, access control, intruder alarm and fire solution sectors, it is not easy to integrate all of these systems together precisely because their related protocols are not standardised,” according to Lee. “As the most widely used international standard in the global security market, ONVIF should expand its coverage to include more security sectors beyond CCTV and access control so it can develop an integrated solution that can be used across all security platforms. If ONVIF expands its coverage to include intruder alarm or fire, not only manufacturers but also end users and even businesses will benefit. The question of what direction ONVIF will take must be answered collectively, and is something that all of us have to be involved in.”

“There are a few product segments that I think ONVIF could focus on with future profiles,” posits Shen. “First, matrix and decoder products could be addressed, as they are very popular in central monitoring centres and stations. Support for intelligence functions is another one, especially since currently each manufacturer defines intelligence functions differently. Thermal products and thermal features should be supported as well.”

“I expect support for thermal imaging soon and for applications exploiting geo-information,” says Campana. “After that, I think that a natural extension of the protocol could be for building automation: we have perimeter security and CCTV and we have access control, both interfacing with HVAC and lighting systems, so building automation seems to be the next natural step. With this extension, even small offices and homes could benefit from advanced functions that now are only available in PSIM systems. I would be happy to install in my house a small system based on ONVIF that can leverage access control with HVAC systems to achieve home automation.”

Meyers states, “There is enough happening in the video market to continue focusing on video, as it is so fast moving and there are many features that are yet to be integrated into the standard, such as analytics access and video content analytics. There also needs to be more ways of accessing manufacturer-developed features. Standard development should proceed to include intruder fire alarms and alarm reporting, as this is frequently requested.”

The future of ONVIF and physical security

“In my personal opinion, ONVIF is most impactful in the IP video sector,” says Shen. “I expect it will continue to help the IP video surveillance grow, perhaps at an even faster pace than it is currently.”

“The video surveillance market has moved fully into the concept of leveraging open APIs to create open architecture systems. ONVIF is leading the charge to true open architectures, and its continued evolution of its profiles will lead to that level of interoperability,” according to Dolan. “The access control market is just starting to get into the open API concept, but it is still many years away from true open architecture. The demand for standards in all of security will help end users and integrators plan more effectively for how and what they implement.”

“I see that system integrators who are working in highly specialised applications of CCTV already know ONVIF well and use it every day,” states Campana. “In more general scenarios, the adoption of ONVIF isn’t as prevalent and I think it is because this market is more driven by price than by the features and warranties that only standard-compliant devices can offer. I expect that if customers are hit by problems induced by a proprietary solution, they will start to ask more actively for standard-based products.”

Meyers of Meyertech notes, “In the past 12 months, ONVIF standard adoption appears in nearly every specification. End users continuously submit inquiries regarding ONVIF, which indicates to me that although the standard is moving forward rapidly, there is a lot of education to be done. A future consideration could be support of camera manufacturers’ features and the breadth of functionality offered across manufacturers’ products.”

“The importance of the hybrid environment is going to grow and become more widespread in physical security. For this reason, it is necessary to promote the use of such standards as ONVIF in order to enable easier system integration that does not require each manufacturer to develop special protocols to make their products compatible with other manufacturers’ products,” concludes Lee. “In order to meet the demand for hybrid security systems, a wide range of perspectives and views must be embraced, where not only manufacturers, but also system integrators are engaged in designing interoperable systems. This collaboration will also be required in meeting the demands of today’s customers.”

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