The Battle For Bandwidth
Don’t drive your sports car on a county road
- By Minu Youngkin
- November 01, 2016
NOT TOO MANY YEARS AGO MANAGING BANDWIDTH
MEANT NOT KNOWING HOW MANY DESKTOPS WERE
CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET, AND SECURITY INTEGRATION
MEANT ONE OR TWO MONITORS THAT SHOWED
MULTIPLE CAMERA VIEWS OF AREAS THAT MAY HAVE
ALSO BEEN PATROLLED BY NIGHT WATCHMEN ON FOOT.
TODAY, BANDWIDTH AND SECURITY TECHNOLOGY GO
HAND IN HAND, MAKING INTEGRATION AS MUCH ABOUT
THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE NETWORKS AS THE DEVICES
“The biggest challenge we face is old networks that are being asked
to support new technology,” said Clifton Dorsey, manager of support
and technical services at M3T Corp., based in Mechanicsburg, PA.
“New systems are getting 10 gig backbones, but when we’re dealing
with an old network, bandwidth is our biggest problem.”
Dorsey likens managing an old network with new technology to
buying a Ferrari and racing it on a dirt road: you wouldn’t invest in a
top-of-the line sports car only to drive it down a rough country road.
You wouldn’t be happy with your investment in 20 new surveillance
cameras only to find that your people can’t effectively use the Internet
on their laptops because the cameras take up too much data.
Add to the mix a whole host of other devices—phones, tablets,
printers, wearable technology like watches and fitness bands, and the
connected routers, switches, cameras, monitors and even locks that are
on your network—and you’ve got a jam-packed road with no one
going anywhere very fast.
“Every minute of a slow network can mean 10-15 minutes of lost
productivity because someone steps away from their computer to get a
cup of coffee while they wait for an upload,” says Dorsey.
These issues are solvable, but there is not out-of-the-box solution. It
starts with identifying what each stakeholder is looking for from the
security technology solution. This typically breaks down into three
categories and their accompanying challenges:
Security. The system needs more network to support the cameras
and other technologies or it is not effective.
Network. IT often feels security is using too much of “their” network
to support the security system.
Physical security. Stakeholders must identify where and how the
technology will be protected, sorted and maintained, and the response
plan when an event occurs.
Dorsey points out that it’s common for customers to overlook the
physical security piece of the puzzle, but it’s a critical component to the
system’s health and operation. And support for addressing this need is
coming from an unlikely place—the payment card industry (PCI) and
its stringent rules and requirements.
For example, PCI requires every cash terminal to have a designated
camera, which feeds to a server, which has to sit somewhere and be
physically secured. This brings the discussion back around to the network
and its bandwidth—how does a system support a designated
camera for each cash terminal and still give the CEO enough power to
run multiple web-enabled devices, and give the office pool the bandwidth
to seamlessly connect to wireless printers and other devices
without lost productivity?
BRINGING THE BUDGETS TOGETHER
Helping customers understand the importance of effective bandwidth
management is the key to designing a system that truly supports their
needs and priorities. It takes budget commitments from every stakeholder,
as well as a realistic understanding of bandwidth challenges, to
bring everyone to the table.
One way to create this is through a demo. This can mean installing
a camera on a current network for 30 days so the customer can experience
and track its impact on data. Or it can be as simple as pulling
the main Internet line to see which devices work and which don’t.
For many customers, these can be eye-opening experiences that show
just what’s coming across their Internet feed and how it’s spread
across the enterprise.
According to Dorsey, this type of demo helps shift the conversation
about the budget, and bring all departments together.
“People realize that the Internet is a company expense, not just an IT
expense,” he said. “You have to treat it like a utility because everyone
uses it across the business.”
Guiding the budget conversation between four or five departments
puts integrators back into the role of consultant. The budget and goals
conversation can also create a platform for helping customers solve
their problems with flexible solutions that address all three parts of the
system. For example, a discussion with customers might include a
Security. Installing surveillance cameras for each cash terminal.
Network. Using cameras with local high-definition SD cards that
deliver a lower quality feed in real-time and hold seven days’ worth
Physical security. Store the servers in an access controlled location
and transfer data from the SD cards in the cameras onto the server
every seven days.
This kind of solution can help enterprises allocate bandwidth
appropriately, maintaining effective security without reducing performance
and production in areas of the business. In addition, the
customer can establish an effective security solution within a workable
budget—spending on cameras with flexible data storage rather
than rebuilding or installing a completely new network that may be
out of their budget reach.
Segmenting networks through V-LAN is another effective technique
that can support the network’s architecture and the business’s
data use goals, with one V-LAN for laptops and printers, another for
the C-suite, and another for security. Adding QOS to your network
will allow you to make sure not one thing is taking up too much of the
“Separated networks have gone from being a nicety to being a necessity,”
OPENING THE DOOR TO A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
Most customers have seen the grainy security videos and jiggly cell
phone camera footage shown on the nightly news. Virtually no customer
wants to be that organization—the one whose security system
offers no usable information, visually or otherwise. Stepping back from
equipment needs and focusing on bandwidth early in the conversation
not only ensures you can implement an effective system, it opens the
door to a strong and long-term client relationships built on supporting
the needs of the business over time.
“Bandwidth is a bigger issue than ever before,”
Dorsey said. “But once we show customers how it
can be managed, then the technology and hardware
fall into place and we’ve built a lasting relationship.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.