On server or edge? How to choose the right video analytics

February 23, 2018

Have you ever thought about using video analytics but decided against it because it seemed too complicated? You’re not alone. At a first glance, finding the right analytics solutions can seem overwhelming. That’s because a lot of questions usually come up such as: ‘Which analytics do I need for my environment?’, ‘How much time will it take to setup?’, and ‘Will it work?’.  

The good news is that analytics are now simpler and far more effective than ever. Security platforms that come with built-in analytics are speeding up deployment and delivering accurate results. While that’s a relief for many, there’s one question that’s still frequently asked: ‘Should I get server-based video analytics or install them on the edge?’

Before we dive into the pros and cons of each option, let’s clarify the terms. When we refer to edge-based analytics, this means that the camera or encoder is processing the image and creating metadata. In a server-based analytics setup, video streams are sent to and processed on the server, independently from the cameras. Each option is viable and effective, but choosing the best option will depend on your environment.

Streamlining analytics applications on the edge

When you process analytics on the camera, the main advantage is that you’re able to reduce bandwidth usage. You can set up a distributed system architecture and lower server costs too. That’s because the camera filters the information, so you avoid having to transfer all video data to the servers.

However, this is only true if you are only storing the video which the analytics solution has classified as relevant. This means that if you want to keep all video for a certain period of time, or just keep all video with motion-detected events, you would not gain much value from this option.

Buying cameras with built-in edge analytics can also be dissuasive. Typically, these devices come with a higher price tag. Depending on the camera model that you’re considering, you might also run into performance limitations or only have access to basic analytics applications.

Heightening analytics performance on a server

When you opt for server-based analytics, you’re free to choose any cameras you want. This can be particularly advantageous to anyone who is upgrading their security system and want to reduce costs by keeping existing edge devices. While it’s best to check with your analytics provider, server-based analytics usually work with most cameras, regardless of the camera vendor or model.  

Another main advantage is that you’ll get better performance. Servers have more processing power and are able to process more video and more analytics applications. In return, leveraging the processing power allows for the development of more advanced analytics.

Server-based analytics can be easier to setup and use as well. If you’re using a security platform with unified analytics, for example, you’ll be able to configure the analytics from the same interface as your video management system. This is also true for various analytics applications, providing the same user experience across all types of video analytics which simplifies configuration and operation. In larger deployments with hundreds or thousands of cameras, this can be a huge time saver. Instead of having to individually configure each camera using the vendor’s external configuration tool, what could you do with that time?

What’s right for you?

Choosing the right analytics technology really comes down to your needs. If you’re only looking to do basic analytics or you have a small to medium-sized installation, an edge-based solution might be the right choice for you. If you require high-end analytics or have a larger enterprise system, server-based analytics is the way to go.

Want to tap into the full potential of your video surveillance investment? Click here to read about our video analytics solutions.

 
 
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