The upside down network

EtherWAN Systems Inc. provides Ethernet connectivity products that with an emphasis on hardened environments and fiber optic interface flexibility.  What we have observed about Security and surveillance applications is that the communications network is upside down.  Traditional information technology (IT) networks consist of a central location with servers, routers and switches that provide services to users.  All of the resources are centrally located with the users out at the edge of the network.  There are generally a few resources and numerous users.  This is a logical and native configuration for information flow and service management for data, voice and video distribution for information services.  It works well for the management of information technology.


Enter physical security systems that now want to reside on this same network.  Security systems have badge readers and keypads and door locks and CCTV cameras that are dispersed all over a facility, generally at the edge of the facility.  These are the resources for a security system, now we want to use the IT network to communicate between these dispersed resources back to a central location where the users are located.  It’s upside down, the native configuration for security systems is to put the resources at the edge of the network and the users are at the center.  There are numerous resources and a few users.  Some of the resources, video cameras, also require a lot of the network’s resources as well, generally much higher bandwidth than was originally planned for.


Putting a full security and surveillance system on an existing IT network requires some preparation and thought or the network will be crowded and slow.  IP cameras are great but they tend to stream data constantly and if the security manager wants to see video in multiple places they will stream multicast data, which will flood your network if it is not configured carefully.  A few IP cameras placed on the edge of an IT network can cause a major traffic jam.  Think backwards when designing your security network, resources at the edge and users in the center.


Because the resources are on the edge network elements are also installed at the edge of the network.  In many cases network elements are mounted in outdoor cabinets, along with other system elements.  These applications require environmentally hardened network elements that operate in harsher environments than standard networking equipment.