Guest Column | June 11, 2013

IP Video For SMBs

By Mike Scirica, VP of Marketing and Sales, WaveStore

Rapid growth using limited available resources presents plenty of challenges for small to medium-sized businesses (SMB), and the challenges extend to their choice of video surveillance systems. In contrast to large companies that can target personnel and resources to specialized areas, SMB customers often have to make do with less and call on their employees to wear “multiple hats.” All companies today stress the importance of lean operation, but at the level of small and medium-sized businesses, lean practices are critical to the thin margin between success and failure.

SMB customers increasingly are embracing the benefits of video surveillance, including the newer IP networked systems, both for security and to improve overall business operations. For IT integrators, SMB customers represent a fast-growing market as more users look to capitalize on the benefits of IP technologies. In particular, integrators are experiencing a significant uptick in business over the last year among retailers, quick-service restaurants (QSR) and retail bank locations. The retail sector, especially, is starting to tap into IP video for training and marketing purposes, in addition to security and loss prevention.

For businesses in the SMB sector, surveillance systems must be especially easy to use and cost-effective. These companies often do not have full-time security personnel and, therefore, need systems that are easy to configure and manage. Effectively addressing the video needs of the SMB sector requires that an IT integrator build powerful, as well as budget-friendly, surveillance systems. Here are some considerations to help an integrator maximize his or her success — and customers' satisfaction — in the SMB market.

Stick with open platform and standards-based systems. SMB customers are entrepreneurial and have to turn on a dime. They want flexibility and plenty of choices at every stage. An integrator who uses open standards can avoid limiting a customer to use of a single manufacturer's products. The customer keeps his options open, and the integrator can select each system component, down to the last camera, based solely on getting the best product for the money. For example, ONVIF compliance ensures standardization of communication and interoperability among products regardless of manufacturer.

Use Linux for reliability and stability. Systems built on light, reliable, stable and secure operating systems have lower hardware support costs. Using Linux-based systems, built on a culture that encourages interoperability, also generally requires less extra software to secure and stabilize the system, such as anti-virus systems and firewalls.

Use purpose-built hardware. Integrators and end users can benefit from systems that support the client directly from the server/recorder to save additional cost of hardware and time for integration. Using integrated, purpose-built hardware and software ensures every system element is designed to perform specified tasks and operates effectively in the broader system environment.

Ensure simple system operation. Client software should be easy to use and intuitive. Small businesses often face challenges of employee turnover, and simple client operation can reduce training time and minimize business disruptions during retraining.

Choose systems to accommodate existing infrastructure. Limited resources require SMB companies to maximize the benefit of every expenditure. Video systems should be able to accommodate a range of camera types, including analog or IP network cameras, in order to preserve the value of previous equipment investments. Accommodating HD and megapixel cameras, as well as 360-degree panoramic view cameras, enables systems that use fewer cameras overall (to cover larger areas) while saving infrastructure investments.

Mike Scirica is Vice President of Marketing and Sales, WavestoreUSA