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Sizing Serious CCTV Servers

Phil

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Just a quick note sharing some jottings with you about sizing serious servers for IP CCTV usage:

Use the JVSG bandwidth and storage calculator to calculate how much storage you will need for the planned number of cameras (you'll need to select the resolution of each camera, the video compression standard that you'll be using e.g. MJPEG/MPEG4/h.264, and you'll need to set some asumptions about the scene complexity and likely activity).

Consider carefully the images per second per camera that you actually need. With Megapixel IP cameras and increasing image file sizes, the chosen frame rate has a great effect on the bandwidth and storage requirements. If you double the frame rate, you double the bandwidth and storage required. Or looked at from the opposite direction, if you have a set amount of storage, then doubling the frame rate will halve the retention period that you can keep for that set amount of storage.

The JVSG calculator will tell you both the bandwidth needed for your collection of cameras AND the storage requirements.

Keep an eye on the bandwidth result, as a rule of thumb a SATA drive volume can manage a maximum write rate of about 32 Mbits/second. So, in order to keep your throughput write-rate per volume below this, you might need to consider multiple volumes within your total storage allowance.

A volume is a group of physical hard drives.

Also bear in mind that if you want to use RAID you may need to allow for an additional drive (within each volume) to manage the RAID.

At the time of writing, the optimum big drive for price/performance is the 2TeraByte SATA HDD.

Make sure that you allow for sufficient capacity in terms of drive bays in your chosen server.

You might want to consider 'Enterprise' HDDs, allegedly more resilient to the long-term 24/7 continuous usage of IP CCTV storage.

It's quite standard for storage server motherboards to have dual gigabit LAN ports (2 ports of 1 gig each).

Check the Operating System required for your selected CCTV Recording Software. Some will run quite happily on Windows XP (although the software manufacturer might specify XP Professional). Others will require a version of Microsoft Server, if that's the case then check whether you also need to purchase Microsoft CALs for the planned number of connections to the server. Check Microsoft Storage Server OS as a more cost-effective option which should not require CALs.

Check that your CCTV Software is licensed for the total number of cameras that you have planned.

Check whether you need to purchase additional client licences. A client licence is normally needed for each PC/workstation/user that wishes to access the server.

Check whether there are any annual fees for the software.
 
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