IP Video Management – Hardware Platforms

December 13, 2010 by Nathan Miloszewski

What is video management?  Once you’ve got your IP cameras up and running video management is an important tool to properly manage, record, store, and view video.

Not much happens in the majority of recorded video – you need a smart system to control this so you don’t consume too much of your time, bandwidth and storage space.

Depending on the size of your IP surveillance system there a couple systems to choose from.

Video Management Systems

There are two main types of video management hardware platforms:

  1. NVR (Network Video Recorder): A hardware box with pre-installed video management functionalities.
  2. PC Server: A video management solution that has open source video management software installed on a standard PC server.

NVR vs. PC Server


  • Dedicated solely to specific tasks of recording, analyzing, and playing IP video
  • NVR’s do not allow for additional applications to be installed on them
  • NVR’s use proprietary software and are specifically designed for video management.
  • Less scalable but, NVR’s are good for small systems where the number of cameras do not exceed the NVR’s capacity
  • Easier to install than a PC server platform

-PC Server

  • Uses commercial off the shelf hardware components
  • Systems designed on pc servers are fully scalable
  • Capable of using standard hardware for increased or external storage
  • Can run addtional software such as firewalls and anti-virus
  • Camera licenses can be added on at a time
  • Hardware can be expanded / upgraded to satisfy increasing performance requirements
  • Good for a large number of cameras and when an IT department has it’s own set system specifications

Hardware Platforms

The size of your surveillance system and whether or not you’ll need to add on to it in the future will determine which hardware platform is best for you.  NVR platforms are self-contained, stand alone units that are simple to install but have some usability and expandability limitations.

PC servers on the other hand are a bit more difficult to set up and are best left to your IT department if you have one.  But they offer unlimited customization and scalability.

Software Platforms

There is more to video management than just the hardware.  Next up I’ll talk about the software platform choices you have to manage your IP surveillance video.

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