Australian security integrator PMT Security Systems, headquartered in Tullamarine, Victoria, was faced with a difficult problem for one of its customers — a large shopping center undergoing major renovation and refurbishment of everything from décor to video surveillance systems. The company that managed Eastland Shopping Center wanted to upgrade to the latest state-of-the-art video monitoring and analytics systems, but was having trouble finding a solution that would fit Eastland’s budget and the space in its data center.
The old system was used primarily for monitoring current activity in the major public areas, so the network, storage systems, and data center were all designed with that load in mind. But, the customer wanted to make the new system perform on an entirely different level.
“They wanted to cover more areas and have much higher resolution images to make identification of activities and individuals much more specific and reliable,” explained Darren Taylor, managing director at PMT Security Systems.
The new system needed to provide higher resolution images, provide additional levels of recognition, and fit the customer’s budget and existing space.
“The extra resolution, additional cameras, and longer retention were essential to giving the analytics software the data to provide an additional layer of business intelligence,” explained Daniel McMahon, project manager at PMT. It meant upgrading from relatively simple video appliances to a full-blown enterprise-scale network and storage system.”
PMT came to Anixter seeking a high-resolution, scalable solution that would meet the growth required as Eastland completed phase 1 of redevelopment and continually added cameras through phases 2 and 3 in the coming years. This solution was the combination of Axis Communications cameras, Milestone VMS, and Quantum storage.
“Axis provides premium IP cameras with the range of resolutions that we needed for different applications,” Jack Caponnetto, operations manager at PMT, noted. “They offer pan, tilt and zoom, protected dome mounting for areas needing that feature, and they do an incredible job of pinpoint autofocusing — even in really challenging light conditions.”
The team chose Milestone Systems for video management software (VMS), and RetailNext for business analytics software. “Milestone is really the best choice we found for managing the network and all the pieces, and making sure that everything came together,” McMahon said. “RetailNext gives end users what is probably the most advanced set of point-of-sale, big-data analytics on the market. Both Milestone and RetailNext work together via open architecture APIs to provide maximum flexibility and value over time.”
All of the data from the cameras, however, substantially increased storage requirements. “We could see immediately that we were going to have a full 600TB of data when the system rolled out and that it would increase over time when we added more cameras to more areas of the shopping center,” Taylor recalled. “The data needed to be able to be streamed to the disk at an incredibly high rate.”
“Data is ingested around the clock from many different sources at the same time, so a system needs to have very high input performance,” explained Simon Vagg, systems engineer at PMT Security Systems. “But once the data is set, it has unusually low I/O requirements.” The team looked at storage products designed for general-purpose IT environments, but discovered they would be expensive and more complex, which would lengthen the project timeline and delay the rollout of more cameras and features.
“The very best solution that we found for the storage side of our solutions was Quantum’s StorNext software and QXS-5600 disk,” McMahon said. “The StorNext M440 appliance is easy to install and maintain. And its StorNext 5 software includes a high-performance file system specifically designed for video applications, so it writes data over many parallel streams for maximum performance.”
The QXS disk, besides providing cost-effective capacity, works with StorNext to provide very high-streaming performance, industry-leading density, and easy data retrieval through the VMS — all features that are critical in many security applications.
In the new system, data is streamed from the 600 Axis IP cameras to the QXS-5600 storage through the StorNext software under the control of the Milestone VMS solution. Data is written from the disk to the RetailNext server for analysis and to portable storage when files have to be retained or viewed in a third-party security setting.
“We have implemented the system. It is up and running, and it has been flawless,” Taylor said.
Just as important to PMT and the customer as the individual pieces of the solution is the fact that all of the pieces work together easily in an open architecture, the companies’ support teams can collaborate effectively, and additional storage can be added easily as more data is created.
“There are lots of people that say they can work well with others, but it really is true for Axis, Milestone, and Quantum — the three key foundations of this solution,” McMahon said. “We had cooperation from all the partners during the whole process. Once the system was up and running, it took almost no admin time at all — that is incredibly important for retail settings, which typically have limited IT resources. We have been so happy with this solution that we have already proposed it to several more customers. We plan to make it the standard solution that we recommend.”