Should the Security Camera Network be Separate from the Enterprise Network?
In the era of analog security cameras, the network connections were via coaxial cable and not the twisted pair copper cabling used for most enterprise network applications. This meant that enterprises needed to build a separate and dedicated security network to connect these devices to monitors and video management systems (VMS).
But the latest security cameras are digital and support the same IP network protocols as most corporate enterprise networks. This raises a network design question: should an organization stay with a separate network for security cameras? Or, integrate these devices into the enterprise network?
Each option provides different benefits but also has some challenges in terms of bandwidth impact, human resources and overall network security. Let’s review the pros and cons to having the security network separate from the enterprise network:
Pro: Separate Networks Means No Impact on Enterprise Network Users
Keeping the bandwidth from security cameras from impacting other users on the enterprise network is one of the best reasons for creating a separate security camera network – especially in a large surveillance network with many video feeds. The bandwidth required by new full-color, high-definition security cameras can significantly impact a corporate network. This has the potential to negatively impact other bandwidth-intensive activities within the corporate environment.
Pro: With Separate Networks, IT Can Maintain Focus on the Corporate Network
Many corporate IT teams are stretched thin and don’t have the capacity to manage security equipment. They may not even have the knowledge of the different applications and tools used by surveillance equipment. When there is a problem with one of the cameras, corporate IT might not give it the same priority as the security team since they are most likely dealing with other network challenges. This means a fix could take longer than necessary.
Con: Separate Security Networks Require Security Team Training
With a separate surveillance network, the security team can take the network maintenance burden off of the IT team. The security team will have knowledge of the surveillance applications and tools in place and will likely be able to handle the issue immediately rather than waiting for a ticketing process through IT.
However, this does mean that security teams will need IT training or need to hire or contract a dedicated technical resource which adds the expense of network upkeep onto the security team’s budget.
Pro: With a Separate Network, Hackers Have Greater Difficulty Accessing Sensitive Data
With a separate security network, hackers can’t access sensitive company data by hacking the cameras and other security devices. Because they are in an outdoor location, cameras could be more vulnerable to hacking. Keeping the devices on a separate network, however, eliminates reasons for the hacker to access the surveillance network.
Pro: Separate Networks Mean Lower Cost of Equipment
Video camera traffic is generally local to an enterprise campus and can thus be switched at layer 2. This means this network can be built utilizing lower cost layer 2 networking systems. But many corporate networks utilize layer 3 routing, which is significantly more expensive. Extending the enterprise network to connect the security cameras drives up the networking cost significantly when compared to building a dedicated layer 2 network for this application.
What One Customer Did
One Transition Networks customer evaluated these pros and cons and determined it was better to install a separate security network.
The decision came about when it was time to add IP-based digital cameras to the network. Company management initially wanted to add the cameras to its corporate LAN, but they couldn’t accommodate video cameras within their strict corporate LAN security policy. In addition, the company determined that training costs involved with getting the IT team up to speed on video surveillance technologies outweighed the costs to train the surveillance team on the basic networking skills. They also bolstered the security team with a support contact with Transition Networks that added support expertise and resources.
Although there are benefits and challenges to having the security network separate from the enterprise network, our point of view supports a separate environment to allow optimal performance for both environments by minimizing shared bandwidth- especially given the increase in more sophisticated security and surveillance requirements. However, Different enterprises have different goals for their surveillance networks and these pros and cons can help make the decision on what can work best for your needs. For more information on how Transition Networks can help with your physical security and surveillance needs, visit https://www.transition.com/solutions/physical-security-surveillance/
I’ve used Transition Networks’ products in my customer installations for years. I’ve always found their products, customer service, sales, and tech support to be top-notch. I wouldn’t even consider using another brand.