As video surveillance usage grows in urban centers, so does the need for networked storage. The problem for most metropolitan areas is that they consist of multiple municipalities, each a city in its own right. These inter-cities often do their own thing when it comes to video surveillance and storage. Yet crime, emergencies, and many other incidents do not recognize borders, which makes it a laborious process when one municipality needs to see video recorded in another municipality to solve a crime, collect evidence, or gain insights on problems such as commuter traffic.


I recently read about an interesting solution linking eight inter-cities containing more than three million people and covering 200+ square miles around the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. They engaged a system integrator to help them network the various municipalities’ video surveillance systems using XProtect* video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems.


XProtect VMS uses the scalability of Intel® processors to provide a wide range of solutions for single locations to multi-site installations. An open architecture, XProtect products are compatible with COTS storage servers, as well as many IP cameras, encoders, digital video recorders, network video recorders, recording servers, and clients allowing users to mix and match hardware to fit their needs and budget (Figure 1).


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Figure 1. Milestone XProtect video management software provides an open architecture for connection of surveillance system devices.


In the Minneapolis project, every municipality adopted software from the Milestone XProtect platform, and then the project’s system integrator centralized these systems using a common IT backbone. This connection enabled everything from sharing live camera feeds to providing access to archived video.


For large installations, such a citywide system, versions of XProtect such as XProtect Corporate support an unlimited number of recording  and storage servers in a distributed system that balances the load. A video archiving feature automatically moves recently recorded video from high-speed, live video storage volumes to a series larger, long-term video storage arrays on a regular schedule and retains it for pre-set periods of time, such as 30 days, 90 days, or a year or more (Figure 1). At each stage, video can be groomed to decrease the frame rate and save space in the storage system. The reasoning behind grooming is that the older the video, the less likely it includes anything important.


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Figure 2. Diagram of a storage container with three levels of archiving.


XProtect systems are highly flexible when it comes to utilizing high capacity external storage, such as network-attached storage (NAS), disk-attached storage (DAS), and storage area networks (SANs). Video content can also be archived on a recording server, allowing it to do double duty. Obviously there’s a lot to optimizing a storage solution for a large-scale surveillance operation that I don’t have space to go into here. I recommend reading the Milestone white paper: Storage Architecture in XProtect Corporate.


Powerful Processors for Storage Servers

To provide best-in-class network and storage I/O for demanding video surveillance storage requirements, manufacturers are turning to the Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v3 product family. These processors offer up to 20 percent more cores than the previous generation, 30 MB of last-level cache (LLC), and up to 3x the memory bandwidth through support for DDR4 memory. To enhance scalability the processors support key storage processor features, including x16 non-transparent bridging (vs. x8 NTB). They also support accelerated RAID for implementing RAID 5 and 6 without a custom ASIC.


For strong, fast data encryption – vital for municipal privacy concerns – the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 product family includes Intel® Data Protection Technology with:


  • Intel® Secure Key for high-quality security keys
  • Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) to enable encryption without sacrificing application response times
  • Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (Intel® AVX2) to enhance performance of compute-intensive cryptographic algorithms and efficiency in large integer arithmetic operations such as the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA)


A second excellent processor choice is the Intel® Xeon E3-1200 v3 family. These processors have integrated graphics capabilities that make short work of transcoding when reformatting is required. This processor family also includes the same Intel Data Protection Technology described above.


Storage Servers

For lots of storage flexibility, the ProLiant DL380 Gen9 from HP is the place to start (Figure 3). Its flexible redesigned chassis includes new HP Universal Media Bay configuration options with 8 to 24 Small Form Factor (SFF) and 4 or 12 Large Form Factor (LFF) drive options. Additional rear drive support provides further expandability for investment protection.



Figure 3. HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9

Designed for performance, the ProLiant DL380 Gen9 features the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family and supports up to 1.5 TB HP DDR4 SmartMemory. The redesigned HP Flexible Smart Array and HP Smart Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) HBA Controllers provide a choice of the optimal 12 Gb/s controller most suited to your environment. The system can be set up with embedded 4x1GbE, HP FlexibleLOM or PCIe standup 1GbE to 40GbE adapters for flexibility in networking bandwidth and fabric.


Another storage option featuring the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 product family comes from Intequus. Their S4336 V3 4U storage server is a fully customizable storage server with dual Intel® Xeon™ processors, up to 512GB DDR3 memory and 36 SAS/SATA bays for a total capacity of 288TB (Figure 4). The S4336 V3 is specifically designed for use in high-density, high-compute environments such as digital surveillance. To keep the beast fed, it offers a range of network adapters up to 10GbE.



Figure 4. Intequus S4336 V3 4U


The 24-bay TS-EC2480U-RP from QNAP is an excellent example of a network-attached storage solution using the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3 family and providing an enormous amount of archiving storage (Figure 5). The TS-EC2480U-RP is 10GbE-ready, delivers exceptional performance, and supports cross-platform file sharing, comprehensive backup solutions, iSCSI, and virtualization applications. An ideal choice for municipalities collecting lots of video data, it delivers 3,700+ MB/s throughput and 410,000+ IOPS in a scalable design that can provide up to 760TB raw capacity. It includes two internal cache ports and up to 4 SSDs for caching.



Figure 5. QNAP TS-EC2480U-RP

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HP and Intequus are Associate members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance. QNAP is an Affiliate member of the Alliance. Milestone is a General member of the Alliance.


Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine