Security surveillance architecture

CCTV Handbook 2019 Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Although IP video surveillance solutions are still often referred to as CCTV (Closed Circuit Television), analogue CCTV systems with a central matrix and video recorders with very large single points of failure are thankfully a thing of the past. The industry now expects all the benefits of what should be called an IP video surveillance solution.

These include much higher-definition cameras and advanced analytics; integration to access control, building management, fire, LPR and POS systems; remote monitoring and management to name just a few. IP video surveillance solutions typically have two distinctive surveillance architectures: centralised and distributed.


A centralised architecture operates with a central server and typically with centralised recording. All processing (including logins, viewing live and recorded footage, alarm notification, etc.) must be returned to the central server from any external site.

The advantages of a centralised architecture potentially include security, administrative overhead, less backup complexity and risk from outside interference. Centralised architectures potentially suffer from scalability problems, network outages and a single point of failure.

Certain measures can be taken to ensure there is no loss of video with centralised architecture (Centralised with Redundancy) but these measures can be expensive to implement and difficult to scale. These include installing a backup server, adding dual network cards and implementing secondary NVRs (NVR failover).


Distributed architecture isn’t solely reliant on a central server, allowing data to be kept close to where it is produced or needed. When cameras, surveillance workstations, NVRs, alarm servers, integration gateways all participate in a distributed architecture, data bottlenecks are minimised as all processing doesn’t need to pass through a centralised server. As there is no central server there is potentially no single point of failure. Advantages of a distributed architecture are reduced network traffic, scalability, increased reliability and resilience.

Different types of scaling

Vertical scaling occurs in a centralised architecture when resources are added to a central server in a system; this typically involves adding CPUs or RAM/storage.

Advantages of vertical scaling are easier implementation and administration; there’s a single server to manage, and that’s it. Setup is also straightforward and running costs (in terms of space, cooling and power) are lower.

Vertical scaling is often limited to the capacity of the central server. Scaling beyond that capacity often involves downtime and has an upper limit. Further disadvantages can be high hardware costs, as you have to purchase ‘high-end’ servers. There is limited scope for upgrades as a server can only be so big. What happens when your database can no longer fit on the largest available server?

Often there’s the issue of vendor lock-in or being locked-down to a proprietary solution. You can be tied to a single database vendor and if you decide to switch this could be a very difficult migration. Or worse, result in having to start again from scratch.

Horizontal scaling occurs in a distributed architecture and means adding more machines to a system; typically distributed or at the edge to deal with the increased workload.

An important advantage of horizontal scaling is that it can provide administrators with the ability to increase capacity on the fly. Another advantage is that, in theory, horizontal scaling is only limited by how many machines can be connected successfully.

Adding inexpensive machines to a distributed architecture might seem to be a cost-effective solution at first glance, but it’s important for the administrator to identify the setup and running costs. A disadvantage could be the licensing costs for additional servers.

Understanding the different surveillance architectures and implementing the correct architecture for your site will help address your immediate security challenges and facilitate your long-term operational goals.

For more information contact IndigoVision, marketing@indigovision.com, www.indigovision.com


Credit(s)




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

The instruments for investigation
Issue 1 2020, Technews Publishing , Security Services & Risk Management
Regardless of the reason for investigation, the investigation is only as good as the investigators.

Read more...
Do we really want simplicity?
Issue 1 2020, Technews Publishing , News
Everything today has to be simple, easy and fast. Even access to your bank account has to fit these adjectives and banks spend significant time and money trying to ensure their web and mobile interfaces ...

Read more...
Axis gives a brighter future to children
Issue 1 2020, Axis Communications SA , Editor's Choice
Fully networked camera solution provides visibility and accountability, letting orphanage focus on what’s important – its children.

Read more...
Security events you can’t miss in 2020
Issue 1 2020, Technews Publishing , News
Hi-Tech Security Solutions will host a number of focused events in 2020 to highlight the latest in security technology and the operational benefits they deliver.

Read more...
SFP Security & Fire becomes ISF SFP
Issue 1 2020, ISF SFP , Editor's Choice
SFP Security & Fire was sold to ISF in 2019, becoming ISF SFP and attaining Level-1 BEE status.

Read more...
Janu-worry or Twenty-Plenty?
Issue 1 2020 , Editor's Choice
If the available security spend right now is somewhere between limited and non-existent, here are just a few suggestions.

Read more...
CCTV surveillance needs are critical in defining types of camera deployment
Issue 1 2020, Leaderware , Editor's Choice
Cameras by themselves do not reduce crime; they need to be implemented as part of a considered strategy of crime prevention and detection.

Read more...
Leaders in risk and security: You have to know it to manage it
Issue 1 2020, Technews Publishing , Security Services & Risk Management
Hi-Tech Security Solutions profiles Nash Lutchman, Senior Vice President and Head of Protection Services at Sibanye-Stillwater.

Read more...
Trends 2020
Issue 1 2020, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked a few people from diverse companies to join us in a round-table discussion about what they expect to see happening in their environments in the coming year.

Read more...
Seven key trends for 2020
Issue 1 2020, Hikvision South Africa , Editor's Choice
Hikvision looks at a few trends that will affect the security industry in 2020 and beyond.

Read more...