On the Edge of Innovation
Often taken for granted — as video surveillance cameras and systems can be found in virtually any public space — the ability to deliver high quality live and recorded video is a complex mechanism requiring hardware, software, and networking. Since leading security providers excel in different areas, companies often join together to create market solutions that are the result of the best each has to offer.
One of the strongest partnerships to emerge in the security industry migration to IP network video surveillance has been Milestone Systems and Razberi Technologies. This teamwork is bringing distributed architecture out to the edge while still obtaining remote visibility in a security operations center that could be just down the street or across the world.
They might be a relatively young company at just a few years old, but Carrollton, Texas-based Razberi Technologies has made quite a splash in the security industry with a product that seems amazingly simple. The Razberi ServerSwitch is a network video recorder, a PoE switch, storage, and video management software (VMS) or access control application in one easy-to-use and easy-to-install appliance. The ServerSwitch has been purpose-built for recording and managing megapixel network video. Its embedded SmartSwitch has been designed to move more than 1,000 megapixel frames per second to internal audio/video-rated hard drives. A web interface enables remote control and measurement of PoE consumption and data transmission.
Rather than employing the use of traditionally large and expensive network servers, the VMS runs directly on the Razberi ServerSwitch. This allows system integrators to assemble smaller, more compact systems that don’t require a large IT infrastructure. By combining these functions into one device, the installer saves a tremendous amount of time, and eliminates the risk of purchasing a component that cannot support the demands of a megapixel environment.
Naturally, Razberi has worked closely with Milestone in their goal to provide integrations with the leading VMS solutions in the security market. The partnership has grown and developed into quite an innovative offering of video surveillance solutions.
“Razberi has brought the market the concept of a distributed architecture where they have the server in a distributed environment and closer out to the edge — a practice that has not been done as much with the industry move to centralization,” said Reinier Tuinzing, Milestone Systems Strategic Alliance Partner Manager, Americas. “What is unique — and attractive — is that even though the appliance is closer to the edge, the unit is visible from anywhere just as it would be in a centralized configuration.”
The Razberi ServerSwitch works seamlessly with the Milestone XProtect Corporate VMS to deliver a robust solution that provides easy-to-use, yet powerful, software for controlling video surveillance.
“The Razberi ServerSwitch has improved the delivery of the Milestone VMS product because our customers want to have the storage and processing capability out at the edge. What we’ve added is the capability to pull that information back to an operation center and make it the entire network,” said Tuinzing. “What’s really impressive is that with the ServerSwitch the complexity is there but it’s hidden by the simplicity of the chassis. We want the depth of the product, but we don’t want to make it complicated.”
Milestone has recognized Razberi Technologies with a Technology Partner Award, which prompted an interview from Security Products magazine resulting in this Q&A: ‘A Sitdown With Razberi Technologies President Tom Galvin’, where the Razberi inventor discusses the partnership with Milestone and the strong foundation they have established for a productive future.
What is the impact of IP networking and how has it affected your product development?
IP networking has been around a long time, but the fact that the protocols haven’t changed a whole lot in 30 or 40 years is a testament to the simplicity and the foresight these guys had when they put it together. What’s changed is that IP networking has become more pervasive, and certainly we’ve seen that in the physical security industry with video surveillance, access control, and other products. How we view our job at Razberi is: We didn’t invent IP networking. We didn’t invent megapixel cameras. We didn’t invent NVRs. What we have done, however, is we have found ways to combine these things in more simplified packages. We view our mission and our value add as taking the complexity of IP networking — particularly for video surveillance — and putting that technology into more simplified form factors that enable the integrator to do the job at a lower cost and reduce the impact of increasingly dense video on the network without compromising on recording quality.
How have physical security systems evolved in terms of developing ample storage for streaming video?
We have a very good solution working with the Milestone XProtect VMS. What Razberi can do with our architecture is distribute storage — distribute it closer to the edge — and that has a number of advantages. One of the advantages is that you don’t have to backhaul all of the video to a central location or server room which can reduce bandwidth impact by up to 95 percent. What Milestone software allows us to do is store video on the edge, which is more cost effective. The Milestone VMS with the Razberi intelligent surveillance appliance solution also allows us to move video into longer-term archives. So you can move the storage for longer term into that centrally controlled computer and server room. It’s a very unique architecture. It allows distribution, it allows redundancy, and the combination of the Razberi with the Milestone VMS is really a unique proposition for the enterprise.
Because the IP video surveillance world seems to be all about making partnerships, how have you managed your partnership with Milestone?
Our partnerships are really the key to our success, particularly on the VMS side. Milestone has invested quite a bit into what they call their ecosystem. They promote partnerships through programs, training, and the MIPS (Milestone Integrator Platform Symposium) conference they have annually. We are a proud winner of the Milestone Systems Technology Partner Award. Milestone does a wonderful job of creating that ecosystem of complimentary products. We’ve really embraced that with Razberi. We participate in everything we can — trade shows, co-selling, collateral, technology partnerships. We’re all-in with the Milestone ecosystem and that’s been a boost for both Milestone and Razberi as you look at the project wins we have together.
Because you are constantly improving product development with your own products, how deeply do you work with your partners to make sure they are in sync with what you are doing?
The partnerships are a real key component of what we do. One of the measures of the level of cooperation are the certifications we do. For example, Milestone has a technology infrastructure certification program. Razberi was one of the first solutions certified by this program. What that involved is a lot of detailed performance testing and benchmark testing in which we collaborated at the Milestone labs in Portland. We get very deep in the certifications — that’s a really important part of our business so our customers understand how well the Milestone and Razberi systems work together.
Please explain how the process of implementing your product works with the IP camera and a VMS system?
We certify these relationships so that our customers are confident we have a working solution both on the camera side, the Razberi appliance, and with the VMS, such as Milestone. The process of making things work for us goes back to that certification process. One thing we do with the Razberi appliance is we take the extra step of certification with our partners. That gives our integrators confidence that we’ve done the benchmarking and that we document that it’s a working solution. We also try to participate in the road maps with our partners — whether it’s with Milestone or a camera vendor. We want to understand where they are taking their products, where they are taking their application programming interfaces, so that we maintain those integration certifications as both the VMS and our hardware advance.
Does that mean that your technical people work with their technical people to make them continue to communicate?
Absolutely, and particularly with Milestone, we have a very deep relationship where we are working engineer-to-engineer on a number of projects. Whether it’s system engineers in Portland, or with product development engineers in Copenhagen — we have that tight relationship. It’s really a unique partnership.
Your security device offers numerous functions, how does it save the installer time?
We’ve been surprised — and pleased — by the adoption of the Razberi, and who has adopted it. Originally, we designed the Razberi appliance with the idea that we would target dealers and installers who didn’t have IP expertise because we could offer the time savings of plug-and-play video and reduce the network complexity. What we’ve been pleasantly surprised by is that some of the most sophisticated integrator partners in our industry have adopted the Razberi. Even though they have CISCO certifications, Milestone certifications, Microsoft certifications — despite that high level of expertise — they still see the value of the Razberi appliance and how they can simplify the installation and reduce the time of the installation. So, it’s a total cost-of-ownership savings even for the most sophisticated integrator.
What do you mean by “intelligent” surveillance appliances?
An intelligent surveillance appliance is a purpose-built, all-in-one appliance that combines server, storage, and managed PoE switch specifically intended to support megapixel video capture. It is open architecture to work with best-in-class video management software (VMS) and provides its own software features for cybersecurity with and health monitoring. An intelligent surveillance appliance is typically co-located closer to cameras than a centralized server and storage. A hub-and-spoke connection point for multiple cameras makes an intelligent surveillance appliance more scalable than a 1:1 IP address to-camera implementation (it supports up to 24 cameras to 1 IP address) and reduces the impact on network bandwidth by up to 95 percent because recorded video is only streaming when requested. Overall, it is a superior option to using general purpose IT servers, storage and systems that were not designed for the challenges of mega-pixel video surveillance recording.
The Razberi appliance was designed for the early integrator so they could make that leap into IP, but now the Razberi product is being embraced by everybody?
It certainly is. I think it’s a testament to the fact that it’s reducing the number of IP addresses in a system because the Razberi appliance can manage that. It’s the simplified form factor or the fact that the Razberi embodies the switching element, the network element, and the power element. That really drives cost savings through reducing installation time. These things — simplicity and cost savings — transcend across any integrator and I think that’s why we’ve seen such a growing adoption rate, even with the most sophisticated integrators.
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Tom Galvin is the founder and CEO at Razberi Technologies. As an industry expert in the development of video management software used for physical security and the surveillance industry, Galvin has more than 25 years of experience and is the inventor of five patents on voice over IP systems, including the razberi™ ServerSwitch™.