Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cisco Stream Manager vs. Cisco Video Surveillance Manager

As many of you know, Cisco acquired two companies, first Sypixx, then Broadware and have been Cisco-izing those products over the past couple of years. The acquisition of Sypixx was made due to its video matrix integration capabilities and market appeal. Broadware, because of its integration with many product lines such as Axis, Panasonic, and Bosch, to name a few. As well, Broadware (now VSM) has the framework for what Cisco stands for in their quest for network domination, where Sypixx (now Stream Manager) was really built to be a hybrid support of Analog systems with the capability to migrate to an IP system.

In talking to members of the Cisco teams, we know there is a merged environment coming soon (codenamed Viper) that will merge the two product sets into what I consider an unstoppable product. They are also moving towards H.264 with their newer encoders and cameras.

So, here is a quick list of questions to answer when deciding on which of the current two systems Cisco offers:
1. Do you currently have a Matrix such as a Pelco 9760, 9770, or 9780, Bosch, or AD Megapower?
2. Are 90% or more of your current cameras Analog?
3. Do regulations in your industry require a limited number of connections per recorder?
4. Do you only have one property to secure?

With a handful of other questions to answer, if you answered yes to all of these questions, Stream Manager is likely the right choice. If you answered no to all of the questions, VSM may be the more likely choice.

A few more things to note about the product lines:
  • Stream Manager Client is an application that runs on a PC, VSM is Web-based
  • Both products can run a Virtual Matrix application
  • Both applications can send video to Decoders
  • Stream Manager and VSM have different Supported device matrices (If you already have IP cameras, this may tell you which one is right for you)
  • The Cisco ISR blades are only supported by VSM
  • The Cisco Hybrid Decoder is only supported by Stream Manager (there is a non-hybrid decoder for VSM)
  • Integration with Cisco Physical Access Manager (PAM) is only available with VSM
There are many other things to note between the two systems, but this should help in getting things started with your design. As always, feel free to contact me with your exact specifications for more detail.

If any of you have more details between these products, feel free to comment.

Ryan Peterson

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cisco Video Surveillance Encoder/Decoder Convergence Chassis

I get a lot of questions about the Cisco VS Chassis and how it works. Unfortunately, Cisco's website on the Chassis is very unclear and somewhat inaccurate. Here are some tidbits of information to clear things up.

There are 2 versions of the Chassis currently available. The Fast Ethernet version and the USB version. Either way, this box is simply a power connection with communication ports on it. The actual Encoder or Decoder is a card that slides into the chassis. Those cards often confuse people. Here are some of those items that should be taken into consideration during your design phase:

1. The cards are not interchangeable between the USB Chassis and the FE Chassis.
2. The 4 port Encoder card is only available on the USB chassis (CIVS-4BECMD-C16U=)
3. The Fast Ethernet Chassis can only take 1 port Encoder Cards (CIVS-SG1B-ECMD-C16=)
4. The Fast Ethernet Chassis is only available with an Internal Power Supply which means you can only use 14 of the 16 ports for cards.
5. The USB Chassis requires an External Power Supply Chassis (CIVS-EXTPWR-CHS) which is capable of powering 2 Convergence Chassis. In addition, you need a Power Supply Module for each Convergence Chassis.
6. The cards have an A and B version. The A version is MPEG4 only and has been EOL'd by Cisco. The B Version is MPEG4 and MPEG4 v.10 (H.264).
7. On the USB chassis, 16 ports of Encoding match to each USB. So, the first 4 slots connect to one USB cable. There are 4 USB on the back of the USB encoder.
8. The USB cables for the USB chassis connect to a Cisco Services Platform aka SP (not the Integrated Services Platform aka ISP which has encoder cards built in)
9. There is currently no way to locate the USB Chassis in a separate location as the Recorder (SP) where the USB connection is made. Testing has been done using USB to Fiber converters, but the results are mixed due to the inconsistency of video over the 3rd party converter devices.
10. The costs of the cards are the same as the non-chassis cards making the non-chassis solution cheaper (but not as pretty).
11. The chassis does work with both the Cisco Stream Manager systems as well as the Cisco Video Surveillance Manager.
12. The ISP will not connect to the Chassis via USB.
13. Although the Single port Encoders support PTZ controls and alarm inputs, the 4 port Chassis card does not.
14. The Fast Ethernet Chassis has 14 Ethernet ports (1 for each analog port) There is not 16 ports since the first 2 slots are used by the power supply.

Since pictures speak 1000 words. Here are a few to give you a better idea of how the Chassis works.

As always, since this product line is an Emerging Technology, I would suggest getting an expert to assist in developing your design for any large scale system.

Feel free to contact me with questions.

Ryan Peterson

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cisco HD Camera

Many people have expressed interest in the HD camera Cisco has created.

The Cisco HD Camera (CIVS-IPC-4300) or (CIVS-IPC-4500 with DSP) run around $1600 list price. Figure that the average price off list to an end customer is 25% then to the end customer your looking at about $1200.

The camera is capable of running 1080p with 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second. Now due to a thing called motion blur, the human eye will normally only process about 24 frames per second. So why do we care about 60 fps then? Becuase you can stop the video. When doing a frame by frame review of the video later, you may want that 1 frame that happens to be 5 of 60 in that second. But I digress.

To make it clear, I have seen many HD Cameras and recently reviewed the Cisco HD Camera and I believe Cisco has a winner.

With the 1 exception that most consumers are beginning to see the value behind dome style cameras, this fixed directional camera really does a great job.

Expect to see this camera in buildings around mid-year. Even though Cisco is selling this item, it will take some time before customers see the value of the expense for the reward of higher quality when it comes to surveillance.

Cisco Surveillance Introduction

Hello and Welcome to the Cisco Video Surveillance Technical Blog!

My name is Ryan Peterson and I work for a Cisco Partner (Data Systems Worldwide) in their Las Vegas branch office.

We are one of the first partners to begin selling Cisco's Surveillance product line and as of today, our largest install is right around 1000 cameras.

After using Cisco to do 1000 camera installations, you get to know the ins and outs of that product line. I would like to share that knowledge to those interested in what Cisco is doing.

So welcome to my blog, I look forward to answering any questions you may have about the product.

Ryan Peterson