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Hybrid NVR or VMS? Which Solution is Best for Your Business?

A quality networked video recorder (NVR) and software-based video management system (VMS) will both do an excellent job of recording and safeguarding your surveillance video. But one option will probably be a better fit for your business. So how do you choose? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each solution.

Hybrid NVR Solution

The NVR is a plug-and-play solution, which means it’s great for locations with limited (or no) in-house IT expertise. You simply connect it to your system-compatible cameras and you’re ready to go. Video is streamed on a separate dedicated network, so it doesn’t overwhelm your corporate network, leaving it free to deal with regular day-to-day traffic.

NVRs are purpose-built for recording video so they are packed with features that ensure superior performance and reliability. Our 8000 Series Hybrid NVRs, for example, have an embedded, Linux-based operating system, so they are extremely secure and less susceptible to viruses.

One of the biggest advantages to using a hybrid NVR solution is the flexibility it provides. Hybrid NVRs support systems using all analog or all IP cameras, or a combination of both, allowing businesses to leverage past investments in analog infrastructure while transitioning to an all IP solution as budget allows.

Capacity, however, is a potential downside to the NVR solution. Typical NVR configurations range from 4 to 32 video channels, which is more than enough for the typical banking branch or retail store, but may not provide enough camera support for a wide-scale campus deployment. Storage capacity is also finite. You could hit full capacity based on the number of cameras you have connected, the number of embedded hard-drives available, and the quality of the video you are recording. Also, if you want to store a lot of high-definition video for extended periods (or more video than an NVR is typically designed to hold) you will need to add an archiving system, such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device or RAID unit. Then other considerations come into play, such as how to stream the video to your company’s backbone computer, and the bandwidth available on your network.

VMS Software Solution

The VMS solution is an application that you add to your existing IT network infrastructure, usually working with in-house IT staff. Once in place, a VMS surveillance solution can be as easily managed as any other software application running in your company’s day-to-day operating environment. Existing IT security protocols safeguard the system from unauthorized access, viruses, and so on.

A VMS solution runs as installed software or in a virtual environment, allowing it to expand easily along with your business. You can add surveillance cameras, increase frame rates, and store video for as long as you want. You also don’t have to decide up-front what your video surveillance requirements are going to be: the system can grow in-line with your business. If you need to add video surveillance to a new wing of your building, for example, the VMS lets you do that seamlessly. And you are not constrained by a maximum camera count – as long as your IT department is able to expand the networking resources assigned to video surveillance to ensure adequate support for the extended service.

One potential downside to using a VMS solution is the requirement for IP cameras. Organizations using analog cameras, or a combination of both analog and IP, must either replace all their analog cameras with new IP cameras or add encoders to digitize the analog video stream before it can be carried over the network and stored.

So which one makes more sense?

The answer to that question depends on your business.

A hybrid NVR solution probably makes the most sense if:

  • You need fewer than 32 cameras per location.
  • You don’t anticipate significant growth in the number of cameras required.
  • You have a security organization with a deep understanding of physical security environments or have few IT resources on-site.

Hybrid NVRs are often the perfect solution for retail banking branches, retail chains and similarly-sized locations, or remote operations with limited bandwidth.

A VMS software solution is ideal if:

  • You already have in-house IT skills and expertise to run the application.
  • An enterprise management system exists and has the computing and storage capacity to handle the new application.
  • Building coverage is large and/or dynamic and future expansion is likely or already planned.

A VMS is often the solution of choice for regional and headquarter offices, and medium-to-large campus environments, such as hospitals, airports and colleges or universities.

For Many, There’s No Need to Choose

It’s important to note that video management platforms are available that can integrate both solutions.

Organizations with multiple points of presence will likely want to choose a hybrid NVR solution for smaller locations and a VMS for their regional and/or headquarters operations. It then becomes crucial that you choose standards-based solutions that can be integrated into a single management platform. Not all solutions will allow you to do this. Make sure you select a vendor that offers a range of flexible, standards-based solutions and the tools you need to manage them.

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