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Cisco offers virtualized video surveillance

Cisco today announced a virtualized version of its Video Surveillance software for use on its Unified Computing System platform for enterprise- or government-operated video-camera deployments.

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Based on the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) platform, the Video Surveillance Manager on UCS is being packaged several ways to appeal to either simpler branch-office use or in large data-center deployments that support hundreds of thousands of video cameras for urban surveillance and protection, in campus environments, the energy sector or the healthcare industry.

The first offering Cisco is making available is the simpler virtualization-ready Cisco Video Surveillance Manager for UCS Express, based on Video Surveillance Software v.6.3.2,which is intended for branch offices. It supports a maximum of 32 cameras at a bit-stream rate of 1Mbps, or 15 cameras at 2Mbps or seven cameras at 4Mbps, according to Cisco. The UCS Express software, which starts at $2,500, requires VMware vSphere 5.0 or higher with VMware ESX or ESXi.

By this summer, Cisco will be rolling out virtualized CVS for UCS in modular software packages primarily for data centers with management capabilities that will support hundreds of thousands of cameras, says Geetha Dabir, vice president of Cisco's physical-security business unit. The Cisco video-surveillance software is said to support not only Cisco surveillance cameras, but several others, including those from Sony.

The Cisco Physical Security Storage series as well as storage options from EMC and NetApp will be available for use with Cisco's virtualized video surveillance as it's extended out to what Cisco calls its USC B-Series and C-Series platforms.

Dabir added this step into virtualization and video surveillance technologies is also expected to eventually help take Cisco into cloud-based offerings perhaps by as early as next year.

Cisco's Video Surveillance software runs on the VMware platform for now. However, Microsoft's Hyper-V and the open-source Xen is expected to be supported at some point in the future, though no specific timeframe was given.

While buying virtualized Cisco VSM for UCS is not expected to be a pricing advantage compared with licensing it in a non-virtualized form, acknowledged Greg Carter, Cisco's director of safety and security solutions practice, he added there should be cost-savings in virtualization due to smaller rack space and cooling cost needs.

As to whether it would be advisable to try and operate in a mixed environment where the video surveillance software runs on both virtualized and non-virtualized servers, Carter says it would be possible but not recommended, except perhaps to test it out as part of a migration strategy.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


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