Innovation Drives Opportunity: Connecting a World of Sensors

At Milestone Systems, we see that the security industry has reached a stage of development where customers are exploring new uses for video management systems. Integrators who embrace the open platform approach are evolving in pace with new market capabilities, and not focusing on a single service or brand or product.

But what does this really mean?

Simply put, system integrators need the flexibility to work with the best hardware, software and service partners they can find, and accommodate new technologies that emerge, to bring those elements together to meet the needs of each user. To that end, the open platform enables a community of innovation. The more varied and diverse the community, the more choice there is available to meet specific user needs.

Innovation drives opportunity, which can best be met with an ecosystem of varied partnerships. Open technology partnering is the highway to success.

When a customer looks at a video surveillance installation, it consists of several functional components: the cameras, the video management and monitoring, the recording and storage, and increasingly, additional integration with other systems. It sounds fairly straightforward, and indeed so much of the functionality is “behind-the-scenes” to the end user that we forget to tell the complete story about how Milestone’s technology partnerships really help facilitate this integration capability.

To best illustrate this point, I like to look at each component and draw out a full range of possibilities presented by the open platform uniting them.

Connecting a World of Sensors

Customers often approach a video security system by thinking about the camera first. They have an area to secure or a scene to monitor, so this is where the discussion begins. From the technology point of view, a camera is “just” a light sensor that’s connected to a TCP/IP network. An IP camera connects to the network via an Ethernet Switch.

The Milestone Camera Partner Program (CaPP) was created for connecting a very wide range of sensors and devices – now well beyond IP cameras. To date, we have support for more than 6,000 third-party devices – IP cameras, encoders, DVRs, lasers – operating with the XProtect video management software (VMS). For many years, Milestone engineers have worked with our partners to be able to accommodate virtually any device that is meant to connect directly to the XProtect VMS. Initially, these sensors included the many security-centric devices, such as:

  • IP Cameras
  • Lasers
  • Thermal Imagers
  • Radar Detectors
  • Video Encoders
  • Access Control devices
  • Alarms, and much more

But in the expanding world of the Internet of Things (IoT), these sensors may also include a greatly expanded range of sensors, such as:

  • Temperature Sensors
  • Sound and Vibration (seismic) sensors
  • Humidity, liquidity, gas and smoke sensors
  • Chemical sensors and analyzers
  • Accelerometers and other speed sensors
  • Geospatial and Directional sensors
  • Biological sensors (face, iris, fingerprint, voice, and more)
  • Building automation devices

The list of devices is long and growing rapidly with new technology innovations. This fact illustrates how open architecture solutions are clearly a win-win for customers and integrators alike. They create excellent, long-term, flexible, scalable functionality and value for customers. At the same time, integrators can feel confident that Milestone’s open platform architecture will be able to support a wealth of innovative solutions as new technologies emerge.

The community model is about providing an ever-expanding choice of technologies and unlimited options for customers and partnerships.

Building a Best-in-Class System

IP cameras are connected to the XProtect VMS server via a network switch. The VMS then manages the cameras and data to disk storage for retaining relevant video for later viewing or exporting as evidence. The client is a workstation/PC, tablet or smartphone for viewing the video. Viewer and operator access are also managed via the VMS. These components – IP camera, server, storage, client — comprise the basic foundation of a video management surveillance system.

The network, server, storage and client components all comprise the Milestone Technology Program (MTP). This program was developed because more than half of all support issues involve either the server or the client running out of CPU capacity, the system running out of storage space, or the network running out of bandwidth.

With these areas in mind, Milestone expanded the community to include IT Infrastructure vendors and decided to begin engaging more with the server, storage, client and network vendors so they could understand the difference between a video surveillance solution compared to other data solutions, to help optimize performance. For instance, video media broadcast — although video based — has very different requirements compared to a business VMS solution. Video media ‘writes’ data once and ‘reads’ many, many times; whereas VMS ‘writes’ to disk constantly and reads only on occasion.

Our customers look to Milestone to recommend partners who have had their IT infrastructure products tested and verified by the Milestone Solutions Certification Program. The solutions certification provides customers and channel partners confidence that the IT infrastructure components will work well when interfacing with Milestone’s XProtect software portfolio. These vendors include but are not limited to:

Server/Storage Partners: BCDVideo, Cisco, Dell, Data Direct, EMC, Quantum, NEC, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, IBM, Iomnis, Lanner, Logic Supply, NetApp, Promise, QStar, Pivot 3, QNAP, Razberi Technologies, Seneca, Spectra Logic, Stratus

Client Partners: HP workstations, Lenovo, Dell, Intel, Seneca

Network Partners: Avaya, Aruba, Dell, Extreme Networks, Firetide, Fluid Mesh, HP, Proxim, Ruckus, Siklu

Through a community of engaged infrastructure partners, the users and integrators can continue to evolve and grow their video surveillance systems, adapting to new needs and requirements, including additional storage and archiving to disk, AEL tape, or DVD for extended video retention.

Extending the System

After customers have had their video surveillance solution installed for a while, they often ask or read about new technologies or additional capabilities that their system could achieve with the Milestone open platform.

This can be accomplished because the Milestone XProtect VMS was designed from inception to be an open platform. The Milestone Integration Platform (MIP) architecture provides a purpose-built set of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and a Software Development Kit (SDK) that guides and defines how partners can best integrate their applications with the XProtect VMS.

Milestone’s partner programs — Camera Partner Program (CaPP), Milestone Solution Partner Program (MSP), Milestone Technology Partner (MTP) — all provide the technical and marketing support needed to help them develop, promote and sell more innovative integrations. These programs also allow Milestone to embrace new trends in customer requirements. When combined, these attributes can deliver customers the unique, customized, video-enabled solutions that can only become a reality due to the flexibility of the open platform. The community of innovation knows this is the route to success, and they are already on their way.

Reinier Tuinzing, Strategic Alliances Manager, Milestone Systems, Options to Innovate, Fulfilling Customers' NeedsBy Reinier Tuinzing, Strategic Alliances Manager, Americas, Milestone Systems