Real-time video surveillance applications have come a long way over the years with so much information we are going to do a two part series. In this episode we chat with the Director of Advanced Systems Architecture at BCD International about where video started and what is on the horizon.
Darren Giacomini is the Director of Advanced Systems Architecture at BCD International, a trusted global video data infrastructure manufacturer, and has 17-years of experience in the security industry. Darren’s responsibilities include managing BCD’s advanced technology portfolio which includes Hybrid Hyper-converged Infrastructure, as well as managing and engineering BCD’s networking solutions portfolio. Darren specializes in designing and implementing high-availability infrastructures to support for BCD’s customers. With over 10 years of advanced technical training experience, and curriculum development in Microsoft and routing and switching technologies, he has diversified knowledge of Avaya, Brocade, Cisco, HP, and Juniper platforms. His certifications include CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCDP, JNCIAEX (Juniper), and HP AIS and AES.
Sal Lifrieri: So today we’re gonna talk about video trends in physical security, what’s new, what’s coming, possibly a little bit of historical, where we were, and see what’s new in the world and what we can expect in the upcoming year. Jim, this is the technical side of this, this is your bailiwick, this is your world. What do you think? What do you see?
Jim Henry: My world is… As it started out many years ago in analog, is a far reach from where we are today, so we’re gonna try and…
Sal Lifrieri: That was back in the day of tubes, right? That was back in the day of tubes, right?
Jim Henry: That was back in the day of tubes, it was.
Sal Lifrieri: It was tubes.
Jim Henry: It was simple.
Sal Lifrieri: Yeah.
Jim Henry: And God, it was such a simple time.
Sal Lifrieri: Tubes and one way radios.
Jim Henry: Didn’t seem it at the time, but…
Sal Lifrieri: Tubes and one way radios.
Jim Henry: Yeah.
Jim Henry: So what we’re gonna try and do is put some logical understanding and perception to words that they continue to hear in this industry, and what does it mean, and is it real, and is it vaporware, and what’s it gonna cost me, and will I be able to handle it? And all the other fear factor, but it’s… These things are developed because there’s a need, and what we’ve had in security here in… Since the early days when you had two or three cameras and a VHS recorder, and maybe a quad-splitter, now we’ve gone into thousands and tens of thousands of cameras, and moving all of this information and storing all this information requires us to come up with new technology on how to be able to handle that, because the human element, it’s way past that. So we have with us today, our guest is Darren Giacomini, who is the Director of Advanced Solutions in Architecture at BCD International, they are a trusted global video data infrastructure manufacturer, with 17 years experience in the industry, on Darren’s firm.
Jim Henry: Darren’s responsibilities include managing BCD’s advanced technology portfolio, which includes hybrid hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as managing engineering at BCD’s networking solutions portfolio. Darren specializes in designing and implementing high availability infrastructures to support real-time video surveillance application for BCD’s customers. With over 10 years of real-time video experience in advanced technical training experience, and curriculum developed in Microsoft, and routing and switching technologies, he has diversified knowledge of Avaya, Brocade, Cisco, HP and Juniper platform. So Darren, welcome to the show.
Dan Giacomini: Thank you.
Jim Henry: That’s a mouthful, and I know it’s going to be a challenge for you to speak to the level of our audience here, but help us from your perspective with a little retro of that history slide that I talked about here, of where we came from, from the early days of four cameras, a quad and a VHS machine, and on to where we are right now, and how that funny word that I just talked about, hyper-converged infrastructure is playing a role here in trying to find out how to handle all the stuff we’re generating.
Dan Giacomini: Jim, thank you for the introduction. It seems a little long-winded, I say that ironically, it wasn’t about a couple of months ago, my wife was trying to explain to people what I did, and she turned to me during a party and said, “What exactly do you do?” And so there can be some confusion about it, but I’ve known Jim going back to my days when I was at DELCO, back when we had matrix base and encoding, and IP digital coming into the market, and the market’s evolved dramatically since then. So when we first started looking at market trends, and we’re starting with the emergence of IP video and encoded IP video, you had constrained variable bit rates, and you had target bit rates of 2 to 4 megabits per second, and it was pretty linear and pretty constrained, and you had a pretty good say, idea of what you were dealing with, with respect to your infrastructure, the data flow and what you were going to get out of these cameras. The world’s starting to change, you’re seeing more and more analytics being pushed to the edge, you’re seeing the evolution of edge computing, artificial intelligence and other things that are being adapted into these technologies.
Dan Giacomini: And as you start to look at high resolution or high megapixel cameras, the bit rates are changing a lot. I use an example of a particular vendor’s camera that I was looking at, at a casino, it was probably going about two years ago, and the public bit rate for this was a target range of 6 to 8 megabits per second, yet when I looked at what it was actually doing on this PTC camera, when it was moving, when things were changing, if I was doing the analysis on the network, I was seeing that bit rate spike well over to 100 and 200 megabits per second when the video was set to its highest capabilities. And that can be a very, very demanding thing for not only a Video Management System, but a network and storage to deal with. So we’re seeing trends in the industry that you’re seeing much, much higher resolution, and now you’re seeing the release of these multi-sensor cameras that can do 270 degrees, 360, 180 degree video stitched together, and you look at the bit rate that’s being driven off of this, and more importantly than the bit rate, the actual number of packets per second could almost overwhelm a network infrastructure, and overwhelm storage that sits behind that.
Dan Giacomini: And so we’re seeing the dynamics change and that we’re having to develop these very robust architectures to deal with the changes in IP video surveillance. It used to be that we had hundreds and hundreds of cameras covering a region, now that’s being contracted down, and now you’re having fewer cameras that are targeting that particular area with high resolution and megapixel cameras, but you’re also seeing those points of failure being reduced, as a single camera goes out more of your coverage is being reduced at that point when you lose them.
Jim Henry: I’ll throw a real life story in that, that maybe our audience can relate to, and this is 20 years ago, so we’re talking early in the days of digital video, and of course, and you remember Amel, and he’s part of this story.
Dan Giacomini: Yes, sir.
Jim Henry: So we’re setting up, we’re setting up cameras for an installation, and of course, Amel is tweaking everything to the nth degree, getting some really nice, crisp, well focused shots, and it happened to be in the early days of all the Colo sites that were popping up in the early part of the century. And we’re looking at these cages with chain link fences, fences around them, right? And.
Jim Henry: It was another manufacturer’s infrastructure that we were streaming into, and we kept crashing the system. And we couldn’t see anything that we were doing wrong. So lo and behold, we finally got to somebody at your level, within this manufacturer, and we explained to him what we were doing, and the scenes that we had, and he went, “You’ve actually done too good a job setting up the cameras. Try defocussing the camera a little bit so you’re not catching every little aspect of that chain link fence.” And sure enough, that solved the problem, the spikes, the high frequencies that we were getting from that really crisp image. Now, this was long before the kind of cameras that we have today. This was really, with an analog camera that was going through a converter, an encoder, but we started to touch on the kind of things that we’re seeing today that you described at a much greater level.
Dan Giacomini: Absolutely. And infrastructure is gonna play a big part in this. I talk to a lot of integrators that believe that a network switch is a network switch. And there can be nothing further from the truth. Yes, all of the hardware is predominantly made by three or four manufacturers around the world, but the most important thing in dealing with these more advanced cameras is how many packets per second it can actually take going into that. And that requires an in-line buffer. We’ve almost created this anomaly, or this problem within the industry. The way that a switch works is you have 24 ports, or 48 ports, and of those 48 ports, maybe 46 of them are cameras, and one or two them are archives. And on a network switch, you’ve got 46 ports competing for those two ports you are trying to record to, and there’s going to be contention, and there’s going to be overlap in those requests, and that’s where it becomes absolutely essential that you get a good network switch with a good buffer, so when you have conflicts you don’t lose that data, you don’t lose that video.
Dan Giacomini: And unfortunately, in the industry, we’re still stuck in this paradigm of a network switch is a network switch. As long as it gets line rate, it’s going to be fine. And it’s just not the case. As these cameras are getting more detailed and they’re getting more services and more capabilities, it’s absolutely 100% required that you put an enterprise great infrastructure switch beneath that.
Jim Henry: Are we at a… We’re at a point where the well-intentioned efforts to try and solve these problems are not enough, looking holistically at the problem.
Dan Giacomini: Well, I think they’re well intended, and I think that the overall goal of what we’re trying to get… You’ve got this deep state learning they’re putting into cameras to potentially perform analytics and deep state learning on the edge to identify things, and that’s gonna play right into the evolution of 5G, where you’re gonna decide what you record and decide what you don’t record at the edge of the network. But with all of that complexity comes increased rate of communication, and your infrastructure has to be able to handle that. To some extent, I think we’re almost reaching back into it. And this is something you’re gonna be familiar with. When we started taking the transition from analog to IP digital, there were a lot of unknowns, and there were a lot of things that we weren’t ready for. As we start to evolve to this edge-based computing and IOT devices that are providing just… Overall amount of data into the infrastructure, we really need to be careful that we build things that are capable of handling the type of speed and the line rate that we need.
Jim Henry: Well, there’s a old adage, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.
Dan Giacomini: Yeah.
Jim Henry: And the why and the how is very important. Do you think that the problem is really understood by the majority of industry stakeholders at this point? And let’s keep focusing on… Any problem is solvable if you recognize that it’s a problem, so to what degree do you think people are still overlooking that and they’re into the shiny object sex appeal of new devices and whatnot, without really looking at the implications? And we went through this learning curve in the early part of the century when we moved from analog to digital, and that first big push back by IT… By the IT folks on what we were dumping on their network. Have we learned that lesson well enough?
Dan Giacomini: Yes and no. I think from the perspective of understanding how we approach projects, to some extent we have a number of vendors that have. And then we have a number of vendors that are still stuck in what I call the rut. I can’t tell you the number of integrators that are dealing with end-users that cycle through VMS platforms. A VMS platform… “Hey, well, I don’t like the way this performs, and I’m getting loss of video.” And to be very clear with you, it’s always the same seven common problems that you complain about in this industry, artifacting in the video, latent PTC control, loss of video, loss of recording, system instability, database corruption, or just completely total loss of functionality.
Jim Henry: Right.
Dan Giacomini: And each one of those can be nailed down to infrastructure-related issues. I found the following, if you contacted a vendor and you’re working with a very, very competent well-known vendor at a VMS level, or an IP camera level, and you cannot resolve the problem within two to three weeks of working with their particular support cue, I almost guarantee you have some infrastructure-related issue. And so what I see is people will cycle through… “Well, I don’t like vendor A for the VMS platform, because I’m getting these problems.” They’ll go to vendor B and lo and behold, they don’t like that vendor either. And then they go to C, and then they go to D, all the while… I use an example. If you give me a very, very high performance sports car and you put me behind the wheel of that sports car, first of all, you’re nuts. Second, if you give me the keys and you turn me loose on a dirt road that’s full of pot holes, I’m not going to be able to unleash the performance of that high performance sports car. And that’s the adage that we’re stuck in in video surveillance, I keep cycling through IP cameras and I keep cycling through VMS platforms, but I’m never worried about the quality of the road that I’m running on. And until you get that right, it is just going to be grief over and over and over again.
Dan Giacomini: I watch these integrators almost blow through their profit margin enrolling trucks to site for things that they can never actually really solve, because there’s a lack of understanding that, yes, you can buy networks switch and put it but if you don’t configure it properly, if you don’t optimize it for video, if you don’t set the right configuration parameters for it, you’re just never going to have the performance that you expect out of it.
Jim Henry: And what makes matters worse is generally that spiking that you started to talk to, or data storms… Then are intermittent, can really have you chasing your tail, frustrate the end users, frustrate the integrators because it’s not consistent, it’ll come and go. And until you get to the why that is occurring, you’re not gonna solve it by being in my dad’s old days at two jobs.
Dan Giacomini: Absolutely, and so this was kind of a problem that I started to approach about eight years ago, I started when I was working for Poco, and then during my time at Avaya Extreme and then finally with BCD Video, we started looking at ways that, how can we optimize the network configuration to make sure it’s done properly the first time. And we’ve gotten to a point now where we can use what I call suffer to find automation that simplistically push the configurations out, and make sure, you’ll be amazed at how many of those problems will, absolutely, vaporise.
Jim Henry: Well, that’s a great place to take our first break and then we will get a little deeper into the logistics of that approach to correcting these problems. So, Darren, why don’t you continue on that “Enlightened Brainstorm” that you had a few years ago on how really to break this problem down at the infrastructure side and save these VMS platforms from undo a blame.
Dan Giacomini: Well, as I started to look at it, and as I said, we started back in doing the network architecture on the side from Poco, I started noticing that the majority of the installations were Greenfield and stand-alone, and the majority of them fit a repetitive pattern where the integrator had control over the IP space and what IP address that they used, it was stand-alone network, they had control of the infrastructure, they had control over their own dark fiber interconnects that were there. And I would say that hasn’t changed much, and you do have some, I say, simulation into the IT side of the network, but I still say that you have this 80-20 split, where 80% of it is pretty much still controlled by the business security integrators, they may be using some of the fiber up-links that are associated with the IT infrastructure, but most IT managers don’t want this on the network anyway, because they don’t know enough about the data flows, etcetera.
Dan Giacomini: So when you have control over that and you know it’s a repetitive entity, I started building with Avaya Extreme, these automated scripts built into the switches, that you can simply provide a variable into it, if you knew you had 20 switches that were going into your network, you would deploy the scripting from switch 1 through 20, interconnect them, and everything was completely automated, everything was completely optimized for video surveillance the way it should be, without having to actually go out and ask obtain a high level certification or training. The problem with that is it required that you, number one, use a 100% Avaya Extreme infrastructure, because it was solely encompassed in their technology. So it didn’t scale well to other vendors and it didn’t scale well to environments that weren’t using a single vendor for the network, so when I came over to BCD Video, I actually partnered with a company called Alcatel-Lucent, and I curre6ntly work with them and sit on their cabinet advisory board for customers, and we’ve developed this idea that, rather than when I first came into the industry, going out on, with my hair on fire, trying to train everybody to be an IP expert, everybody to be a networking expert, why not simplify it to the point you don’t have to be a networking expert?
Dan Giacomini: Why don’t we make it so simple that I can take a group of 20 technicians in a matter of hours, have them all deploying infrastructure exactly like myself or somebody from my team would, and doing this all on the smartphone or from a template-based computer infrastructure, and so that’s what we have with the Alcatel-Lucent platform. We can now take layer two and layer three infrastructures, and by applying templates that you control the IP space from your phone, you choose from 1 to 40 templates and no matter how you interconnect them between the switches, number one, they’re set up 100% optimized for video transmission, they’re set up for resiliency if you want redeemic connections, and they’re set up to deliver the highest level performance you can get out of the box with absolutely zero training from the IP side or from the networking side.
Jim Henry: So what’s the downside to that? Why would it be pushed back to that?
Dan Giacomini: There’s not really push back, it’s more about getting people informed of what we built and what the differences between grabbing a switch that you can get off of the shelf or from a vendor and simply putting it in, and plugging it in, and if I get video, everything’s great. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I’ll give you an example. I had a hospital that was doing that exact same thing, they were plugging the switches in a star configuration, everything’s great, but every time a PC powered down or a camera was plugged in, or any device plugged in, everything in the network, all the video fleets would actually blank out for a second and then come back.
Dan Giacomini: And that was happening both live and recorded video, as a technology called Spanning Tree built into the switches that looks for loop protection, and every time that you plug a device in or change a state of a link that’s under that spanning tree, it will actually re-calculate everything on the network, which causes the ports to go down and come back up, and if you don’t know to go in and configure edge ports for devices like cameras and workstations and servers or states that are gonna constantly go up and down in their link, every single link in your network will experiencing these brown outs, a video where it’ll actually go down for a second and come back up, and it’s just something that we’ve done a poor job of educating people what needs to be done, but rather than going through the difficulty of trying to train everybody on the Ins and Outs of different vendors and what to do. As an industry, we just need to take a more simplistic approach, make it obtainable by everybody and remove the mystique from the networking side. Make it approachable.
Jim Henry: Do you think that the pushback then is… I won’t say push back, but just say it’s an education process from the integrators that have control over those elements of the solution, but in the case where a large customer with an ID department may retain control over the hardware selection, the switch selection and whatnot, is that not maybe as open in here to these issues for the kind of data that they’re flowing around, might that be another element of the problem that we need to overcome?
Dan Giacomini: Absolutely. And that’s where kind of phase two of what I look at with this project, with the solution comes in, you’re going to be given your own particular IP subset, you may even be given your own switches that you’re going to run off and those switches may actually up-link into a corporate environment. So the ability to set a gateway or the ability to set configurations where you can up-link that can be critical. If the infrastructure is being supplied by the IT department, a lot of times you have, I won’t say more difficult challenge, but a more complex situation. When you look at building out data centers and building out infrastructures for IT, everything is inward to outward flowing, all the data comes from a data center and it goes out to the customers, and it’s all centralized, you could not be a more polar opposite of how you’re actually flowing data in a physical security environment.
Dan Giacomini: You don’t have 100 servers or 50 servers flowing data out, you may have 10,000 cameras bringing data in and your storage, your networking, your compute, your buffering on your networking, the bit rate you need to be able to support, ingress go into these devices, all needs to be optimized for a complete reverse paradigm of data flow that IT is used to. And so a lot of them can find themselves in trouble trying to apply traditional IT data techniques to what we do in physical security, because they just don’t know, they don’t understand the data flows of how they’re working.
Jim Henry: Do you find the IT folks are kinda get their nose out of joint when you say, “Well, you may know your goes out of, but you don’t know your goes into.” [chuckle]
Dan Giacomini: Sometimes, it really depends. And nine out of 10 times when we get to a point where we can sit down and talk to those guys and say, “Okay, what are your concerns? And let me explain to you the data flows, and let me explain to you why I think you should architect it this way.” And architecting things for video flows is dramatically different than what you may be used to. They’re almost looking for that entity that can speak their language, it’s no different than when I first came in from the IT side into this market going on 18 plus years ago, I came in with a very, very strong IT background. And I remember my first days at Pelco, when someone was talking about P and D protocol and all these things I call protocols, and I’m in IEEE looking for the standard. And like, “What is a PTZ protocol?” And I’m looking for the IEEE standard for PTZ and it doesn’t exist. There is a disconnect in what you consider protocol in surveillance and what you consider it in the IT world, and it’s really, it still exists. You still have that disconnect.
Jim Henry: Well, having come from the integrator world, and even if you do have the knowledge that you’re talking about now and can speak factually to the IT department, it’s tough because not a lot of integrators carry the personnel inside with a CCIE on their badge where it gives them the… Basically gives them cart blanche. So what really the integrators need backing them up is a very sound and coherent narrative from the industry, from the manufacturers, from CIA, and from the security consultants, to be basically speaking this model to the industry and over to the IT teams. So they’re just not hearing these one-offs from an integrator that’s trying to do the right thing, but as we’ve often seen, many good deeds go, do not go unpunished and they’ll get extricated because they’re not telling those guys what they wanna hear. [chuckle]
Dan Giacomini: Yeah. No doubt. As an industry, we have to take a different approach, and this was a lesson learned for me, myself. I came in, ready to educate everything, everybody is in IT side and ready to train everybody to become IT integrators. And they simply didn’t wanna do it. Some of them wanted it, some of them didn’t wanna do it, and some of them didn’t know what they were really getting into. And so over the years, I had to shift my thinking of rather than training, why don’t we find a simple way to do it. And we’re gonna see the same thing. Internally, we’ve developed this entire team, an amazing group of software developers that we have at BCD video and infrastructure experts that are really targeting, how do we take the things that we really need that are unobtainable and difficult to do today, or not, I shouldn’t say unattainable, but more difficult to get to. The industry is heading towards virtualization with VMware, and it’s gonna be every bit as difficult to transition as we did from analog to IP. So the approach we’ve taken is why not take these complicated technologies like virtualization and VMware and all these other technologies.
Dan Giacomini: And we have a group of software developers that use a platform they call Harmonize. And what they’re doing is they’re working on taking these complicated technologies and embedding them directly into the VMS platform, meaning that within the VMS itself, you’ll have a one or two button approach to spinning up a new virtual architecture or one or two-button approach to monitoring everything you have happening on the virtual side, what your CPU utilization is, what your memory utilization is. They’ve even developed integration to iDRAC. So on the back of the Dell platforms, it needs to be a standardized on iDRAC is your lifeline to what’s going on with that server, your ability to see what’s going on with the hard drives, what’s going on with the memory, what’s going on with the CPU. And we’ve embedded all of that directly into the VMS platform now through Harmonize, and the software developers have done a great job of bringing that in, and what that brings to the market is visibility, because a security director who doesn’t know about iDRAC, and doesn’t know about virtualization, can look at a single pane of glass heads up display and say, “There’s a problem, and I know who to call based on what I’m seeing here.” And that’s what’s critical.
Jim Henry: Well, that’s a great place. Will take our second break and then we’ll get a little deeper into that approach, so kind of relating that to… Hopefully, it makes sense. It’s… Our users were first exposed to computers, they wrestled with trying to set up their printers and get the printer drivers and get this on the network, and this doesn’t see that, that doesn’t see this, and they’re throwing their hands up. And later generations of Windows would do the self-discover and whatnot. So Darren, what you’re talking about now is not that far afield from that, what you’re talking about with Harmonize. Am I making a correct analogy?
Dan Giacomini: Absolutely, it’s about providing a simplistic approach in an environment that people are familiar with. Security entities and end user level, are used to dealing with the VMS platforms. And when you take the critical data and you present it to them in a format that they’re used to working with, it becomes easier to deal with that technology. So Sal, I think you had a question.
Sal Lifrieri: Yeah, I was just saying that with all of the conversations that take place between the developers, the engineers, the people setting the switches, it all comes down to the conversation with the end user, the guy who’s actually signing the check, and there’s a classic ignorance that occurs with that. And I’m listening to the conversation you guys talking about how like the need for the conversation between the programmers, the developers, the engineers, at what point does the industry recognize that the end user, the guy who’s signing the check, is ignorant and needs to be educated? How do you break down that technology so that the end user understands it?
Dan Giacomini: Yeah, I think we’re headed that direction, for sure. It really is, when we focus on a BCD, is channeling through the integrator to determine those end user needs. And a lot of the development we’re doing now is directly based upon that channel of communication. We’re seeing that we can develop all these advanced technologies. And when I say we’re heading towards virtualization in the industry, it’s no different than what is happening in IT. There is literally a virtualization kind of revolution that took place, and I see the same thing in surveillance today. When I look at an archive or when I look at something that’s a recorder, on average, you’re using 40% of the CPU and maybe 20% of the memory, so what happens to the rest of that? If you don’t virtualize that and compartmentalize or contain it, then that’s wasted resources. When I virtualize that, I may have an archiver, but I can also spin up an access control entity. And I can also spin up other entities inside of that to effectively use those resources.
Dan Giacomini: And when you look at a project bid, you’re gonna see, when people virtualize, the number of servers actually contracts or reduces because they’re more effectively using the resources they have. But as you induce that complexity, you’ve got to have a way to make it readable in a human form. Somebody has to be able to manage that at the end user level without actually having to go out and get a high level of education to be able to do it. And that’s what our goal is with the Harmonize platform. The idea is to take this technology and break it down into simplistic metrics that can be viewed inside the VMS that that end user is familiar with and get alerts within the VMS, and guide them when they have problems as to who to contact or what’s going on, and provide real-time metrics. Because let’s be honest, most surveillance directors don’t have time to wait for the integrator to get on site. If they’ve got a problem they need to drive resolution now. And those real-time statistics are going to allow you to drive problem resolution much, much faster.
Jim Henry: Well, it’s always much more reassuring when you have some idea of what’s happening rather than, “My videos down. What’s going on?” [chuckle]
Dan Giacomini: Yeah, absolutely.
Jim Henry: Likewise, we always find that the customers are more understanding when they do call the integrator, if the integrator can give them a little bit of a deeper dive into where the issue is rather than, “Hey, we don’t know, we’re sending somebody out.” ‘Cause then you’re just blind. So this concept of giving visibility into being able to address problems before they get worse or understand where they are, so if they are being targeted, at least there’s some sort of finite understanding of what it is and what’s being done and how long may it take to correct. And in a time when there’s a lot of debate about, “Do I load all my stuff on-premise? Do I go to the cloud? What do I do, what do I do?” Right, and coming from the old… The old integrator roots, it’s always like, you gotta triangulate, you gotta have redundancy, you gotta triangulate a problem, you’ve gotta… You have overlapping technologies for better detection, you really want a hybrid approach with some on-premise, some at the edge, some in the cloud, and this approach, I think also maximizes that kind of middle of the road solution to mitigate risk, am I on with that?
Dan Giacomini: You’re 100% on target with that. So in our Harmonize platform, we partnered with a company called Tiger technologies, which specializes in embedding exactly what I’m saying into the VMS as well, so directly into the VMS, you have control over what stays local, what goes hybrid or private cloud and what goes public cloud. We are moving towards a cloud-based architecture, however, everybody’s hailing 5G as the great savior that’s gonna move us to the cloud. There are a lot of problems with that theory, and that is the majority of the VMS platforms today work off of with what I call a redirect concept. If you take an IP camera, an IP camera is nothing more than a Linux-based PC with a CCTV imager and a lens on it. And you’ve got a finite CPU memory and network interface resource there, so a common problem when you have an explosion at a flour mill or a problem at an auto production plant, and 10 different people wanna view that camera live, if you’re streaming it directly from the camera via Unicast, you’re only gonna get about three…
Dan Giacomini: 30 frames per second to ADP images before that camera peaks above 85% and stops producing that. So to solve that in the industry we did a redirect. They said, “Well, let’s just go unicast to the recorder, the recorder’s much, much more robust in what it has, and then we’ll fan out who wants to request it from there.” But you induce latency and you create a hair-pin effect, meaning the data has to go to the recorder. So now you start talking about pushing that out to the Cloud, you wind up hair-pinning data out to the Cloud and back for live view because of the way this was actually set up. Some vendors actually use Multicast-to-the-Edge, which is the subscription mix, basically, it’s like a newspaper or a periodical, if you subscribe to it, you get it, and they send that stream out at once and it goes where it needs to go based upon a subscription-based model, and that keeps the CP on the camera from being overloaded, but brings a lot of complexity on multi-cast to the back into the network.
Dan Giacomini: These are all things that we have to deal with, because to be honest with you, the majority of the infrastructures out there and the VMs platforms are not to [0:33:26.1] ____ today. They still rely on hair-pinning through the archives of recorders, and that’s not really a good fit for what we’re looking at today with Cloud. There are going to be some hurdles to get there, but companies like Tiger Technologies and places that understand, we’re moving towards this multi-tiered architecture and is working from the perspective of building that directly into the VMs, is going to start to move people. They’re gonna start to see that this is the wave of the future. We need to be able to go either private Cloud or off-prem, public Cloud, but right now, it’s the same thing that we face today. If we don’t make it simple and approachable, nobody’s going to do it.
Jim Henry: Well, I think then that’s really, that’s the key to making that transition, and again, in an industry that over and over and over proves that it takes sometimes five to 10 years more than the experts say a transition will take within the security industry. Do you think that that is as accurate a statement in 2020, 2021 as it was 20 years ago, 40 years ago, when we were really dealing with an industry that had a lot of old legacy, Sun, Sow and present companies excluded, retired law enforcement in the industry, ’cause there’s a lot more technically savvy people in the industry now, both in management as well as in the technology fields. Does that bode for a higher rate of acceptance now of this latest trend?
Dan Giacomini: It’s tough to say. I’ll tell you this, when I first came into the industry going on almost 18, 20 years ago, when I first started dabbling in it, I was still teaching college at that point, and the first thing I heard was IT’s coming in and taking over this industry. They’re taking over the infrastructure, they are going to control everything. 18, 20 years later, it still hasn’t happened. Everything we push out the door, with the exception of Fortune 500 companies and large companies that really have a solid IT infrastructure and staff, these are all still networks that are being deployed by the security integrators. Nothing’s really changed, and this big evolution or revolution that’s gonna happen, that’s gonna move everything over the IT side, still hasn’t happened. So I don’t think you’re gonna see much of a different kind of role play out here.
Dan Giacomini: I think you’re gonna wind up with, everything is moving to the Cloud, everything is moving to the Cloud tomorrow, and I think it’s a little bit farther off then we think. I think that there are gonna be entities that Cloud makes sense. But I can tell you right now, when I look at Cloud… And we started looking at CCTV or Surveillance as a service while I was at Avaya and we started thinking about all these different things that you could do through these service providers to act as a backbone and Cloud providers to provide surveillance, and every time somebody wanted to do it, I would show them the bill for the resilient service provider connections they would require based upon the 300 cameras they have on site, and when they saw the bill and what it was gonna take to get that kind of service provider bandwidth, they all backed up, and I think we’re still at that same challenge. 5G has the potential to give us a direct point-to point in connection, but unleashes a whole other gamut of infrastructure-related issues that the VMS platforms simply aren’t built for that today. They’re gonna have to be rebuilt and re-purposed for that.
Jim Henry: That’s the crash and burn that I’m worried about of people jumping on that key word saying, “Oh, that’s gonna solve everything.” And you have just a whole lot of collisions and problems coming up because people overstated the problems that 5G was gonna solve, including peace in our time.
Dan Giacomini: 5G is gonna solve a lot of things for Edge computing, if I’m in a self-driven car from Tesla or somebody, and there are sensors that are IoT devices on the side of the road that can pick hazards up, things like that, tell me I need to shift lanes, tell me there’s an accident ahead and I should apply the breaks, things like that. Those are life and death decisions, and those are things that need to happen and what’s called edge compute or the edge of the network, and those are things that need to happen in real time. Most of what we do in surveillance doesn’t happen in real time, it’s post-analytic, an event happens and we review it, so yes, there’s a predictive nature to it at some point, but 5Gs really meant to drive edge computing and pushing computing out to the edge and giving you the promise of two-millisecond latency for everything, but if the API infrastructure for the software resides back in a data center in Omaha, it doesn’t matter that you have two-millisecond latency. You still have to hair-pin it back to get a response and from my perspective, what we do in surveillance just isn’t at that point where we think we need that kind of response. It’s almost always post-analytic.
Jim Henry: You’re very right, there’s a brand that your brand name now for your solutions called Revolve. Why don’t you explain what that is and how that relates to the Harmony platform. You talked about.
Dan Giacomini: So Revolve, in the last series of years in the industry, hyper-convergence has been a buzzword, and hyper-conversions, is meant to provide high availability and it’s meant to solve problems that people see on site, so if I am an archiver and that’s holding a certain amount of data, we build software entities and VMs platforms, if that archive ever fails, I redirect my cameras to record somewhere else, so I don’t stop recording, and there’s some latency gaps or there’s some gaps in video that will happen during the transition, but you stay recording. You’re not responding to that failure in the middle of the night, what you don’t get with that.
Dan Giacomini: Is until if you can recover that server and that data, you can’t get access to any of that video. It’s gone. Until a technician comes out and repairs the motherboard or fixes a CPU or the memory problem where the power supplies, all of that archival data is gone, and you can’t get it back. And that’s what ACR hyperconverged was meant to approach. The fact that we take a group of these servers and we put them in a cluster and we share CPU, we share memory, and we share storage resources, and you create something called “virtual machine mobility” to where if the virtual machine for Windows that the archive is running on, that machine fails, it’ll simply migrate to other machines to operate, and the storage is shared on all of them. So when it fails, not only does it recover, you get all your data back, your data is not gone. And that’s what people love about the hyperconvergence approach. The problem is, what we do in this industry is asymmetric with respects to resource depletion.
Dan Giacomini: If you take a look at CPU memory and storage, I can tell you every day of the week, we deplete storage a thousand times faster than the CPU and memory. And the problem that I see with the hyperconverged approach is every time I wanna add more storage, I have to buy another server with more CPU and more memory that I might not need. Disaggregation is happening on the IT side. They’re looking at HCI 2.0 and they’re pulling the storage out the way and getting that same VM mobility, but they’re storing the data back on SAN and NAS devices that already have five nines availability, that already have industry-proven resilience and longevity for data, because they realize that there’s this asymmetric depletion of resources. And so that’s what we’ve done with Revolve. Right around the same time the IT side of the businesses started to make the shift from HP to Dell and everybody else started to look at HCI 2.0 or disaggregation, we did the same thing. We build the cluster and we put all SSD in the cluster for high performance for the VMS platform, for the Windows base that it runs on, and for the databases. And we give it mobility.
Dan Giacomini: If a box fails, that role will move to another box. But we then target all the video storage back to either a SAN, or NAS, or off-prem or on-prem, private cloud, all of those are options. Those are industry-proven standards that you’re not going to lose data. So we can accomplish the exact same thing of what people like about pure HCI, but we can do it at a reduced cost, and we can do it without having to waste resources, buying more compute power when you don’t need it.
Jim Henry: That’s a great place to put it in pregnant pause and say that we’re planning on doing a follow-up podcast on just that because that is really a very significant development that brings in, again, the benefits of HCI, but eliminates some of the unnecessary baggage and cost of that infrastructure. So, Darren, as a follow-up, how would you suggest people contact you or BCD for additional questions?
Dan Giacomini: Oh, absolutely. So they can reach out to our website, you can go to BCD or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org You can reach out to me directly, if you have any questions about what we’re discussing here, and you can get all of our contact info directly from our website or reach out to any of our sales entities, they can redirect you to me as well.
Jim Henry: Sal, any closing comments on your side?
Sal Lifrieri: No, I tell you, it’s kind of interesting. I always try and look at it from the guy who’s gonna sign the check, and what’s important to know. And so it’s… I always find this fascinating, that is all it is going on in the background, and when you… Early on, when you were talking about how the integrators could be having trouble and how the end user is pissed at an integrator and says, “You service sucks.” And they go to the next one and the next one. And not just understanding what those problems are, and I just think that there’s just gotta be a whole lot more of education to, not necessarily the end user as the guy installing it, but the guy who’s signing the check and letting them realize the problems. ‘Cause obviously, a lot of the issues that they contend with later on is poor decisions that they made in the beginning, whether it was budgetary reasons or going with a brother-in-law’s system and trying to grow into it. So it’s just sort of fascinating to see the whole perspective of it.
Dan Giacomini: I will say this, Sal, it doesn’t matter what car you’re driving if it’s a bad road. And being from California, we have a lot of bad roads here. Have you ever spent any time in the slow lane towing something? It’s horrible. I mean, you’re bouncing all over the place, and it’s not gonna get better until you fix the underlying infrastructure, and it’s kind of a problem that really almost plagues the industry because we still ignore it. We think infrastructure’s infrastructure, if the port lights up, it’s going to be okay. But those problems manifest themselves as VMS and camera problems that a VMS and camera vendor cannot fix.
Sal Lifrieri: Yeah. Right, a lot of times those issues wind up… They were bad decisions in the very beginning when when the system initially was bought.
Dan Giacomini: Absolutely.
Sal Lifrieri: It’s… Yeah, it’s problematic. But really, thank you for your time. This is great. I’m really looking forward to the second podcast and learn more about hyperconvergence.
Dan Giacomini: Yeah, us as well.