SECURITY managers and integrators need to take a forward thinking approach to networking video surveillance solutions. It’s pretty obvious current network infrastructure battles with the demands of shifting video and integrators know trying to sneak video streams through modern networks gets more complicated every year. Given this, users and installers need to build their systems with the potential to upgrade to more flexible network designs. When companies adopt technologies like Sun Microsystems N1, they allow CCTV components to be used more effectively and far more economically than they are currently used. The potential savings are immense. Consider that about 75 per cent of the world’s total IT spend goes on supporting legacy systems. That’s not just hardware maintenance, either. There are wages to consider. In the mish-mash world of traditional networking whole teams of techs are needed just to keep the beast on its feet. These techs are enslaved by the multi-platform, multi-OS monster that modern networking has become. The awfulness of the hardware solutions and the incompatibility of the network software needed to support them means that about $10 gets spent on maintenance wages for every $1 invested in new hardware. Given the challenges it’s no wonder shoe-horning video through networks is such a pain. This might sound extreme but fact is, modern networks aren’t particularly well designed to network, let alone network video. And modern networks aren’t just dysfunctional in each other’s company – they’re dysfunctional and never used to capacity. What all this means is that users spend huge amounts of money building and maintaining layers of network infrastructure that don’t work properly and that they don’t need. The most accurate word for today’s networks is heterogeneous. What this fun word means is that most networks are comprised of incompatible domains, all of which need to be massaged in entirely different ways in order to get them to cooperate. The result is that instead of evolving, networks are undergoing a process of devolution – they’re getting slower, more expensive, more time-consuming to manage and more unpleasant places for high-bandwidth video surveillance to be. The result of the confusion heterogeneous networking environments creates is that many systems managers have spend the past ten years effectively walling themselves into protective huddles – IT people call these huddles ‘silos’ but electronic security people will recognize a circle of wagons when they see one. The way forward for all networks – including security networks – is virtualized solutions where network resources reside in data centres and can be accessed whenever they’re required. Such network architecture kisses goodbye the endless duplication of current methods. It’s not an exaggeration to think of virtualized solutions as a quantum shift in the way networking gets done. Combined with high performance comms paths, they really are signposts to the future of networked video. Virtualization and MPLS allow networked resources to be effectively strewn around the globe where they can be accessed from anywhere yet perform as if they were in a rack down the hall. This is the place we need to get to. A lot of video surveillance manufacturers talk about live global solutions and maybe their systems can deliver them. But until virtualized network architecture and MPLS become widespread, such talk has no place in the real world.