Video Surveillance Synology Surveillance Station CMS for Large Companies with Branch Offices

In large organizations, there is often a need for centralized video surveillance management in branch offices, remote offices or retail stores. For such cases, when you need to build an entire video surveillance network based on IP cameras, Synology offers Surveillance CMS technology, which allows you to manage all your NVRs based on Synology NAS from a single window, dynamically distribute licenses to connected cameras, and set backup video surveillance servers in case of hardware failure.

Testbed

Within the framework of this article we will get acquainted with Surveillance CMS, as well as test the operation of this technology in real conditions. The following stand was used for testing:

  • Synology RS818 + (4x WD Red 2Tb SHR1 RAID)
  • Synology DS218 + (2x WD Red 2Tb RAID 1)
  • Synology DS1511 + (5x Hitachi 1Tb 7200RPM SHR1 RAID)
  • 4 unnamed Chinese cameras (1080p, H.264, ONVIF)
  • 1 camera Zavio D7111 (720P H.264)
  • Windows 10 x64 client computer

4 Chinese cameras were connected via ONVIF, and we added one of these cameras twice (Synology Surveillance Station allows it) to maximize license utilization on all three devices.

Well, the equipment is assembled and let's start by defining the Surveillance CMS terminology.

Terminology:

In the structure of Surveillance CMS, all NAS used in video surveillance are divided into three types:

    The
  • Centralized Management System is the master device that manages the entire surveillance network and to which the client terminal connects via the web interface or Surveillance Station Client. Can also act as a recording server.
  • The
  • Recording Server is the end device to which IP cameras are connected and where their recordings are stored. The recording server can be installed in the same subnet as the host server, or in a different city, while communication with the host server is carried out via the Internet or through the QuickConnect service.
  • Failover Server is a NAS that, if any of the recording servers fails, is ready to take over its functions, continuing to record from the cameras and then return them to the recording server when it starts up again .

Let's take a look at typical use cases for Surveillance CMS, but to find out how it works:

Option 1 - Headquarters and Branches

In a large organization, the head office is located in a business center, and the entire IT infrastructure is completely virtualized: images of virtual servers and workstations are stored on Synology RS-series storage systems, for which a small room is equipped for a data center. All IP cameras are grouped into a separate subnet and served by the same Synology NAS with Surveillance Station CMS installed. Thus, in the central office, in the rack and under the air conditioners there is a centralized control system for video surveillance.

Surveillance CMS Usage Scheme

The organization's small branches and retail stores are scattered across the country, and each has a basic 2-drive configuration, Synology DS218 +, with 2 IP cameras connected. Local NAS-s are used for backups and file exchange between workstations, but at the same time they store the video archive from cameras, since in Surveillance CMS they are assigned the role of recording servers .

The organization's security service monitors branches and retail outlets through a web interface or Surveillance Client for Windows, connecting to a centralized system installed at the headquarters. To view the history of events in any branch, the guard does not need to remember the IP address of this office and connect to it via a slow channel - information about the triggered motion detector is automatically synchronized between the recording server and the centralized server. When watching a video, it is played directly from the recording server over the Internet, and there is no need to download it locally.

In the screenshots below you can see how cameras are added from three NAS-s interface for real-time video viewing.

Such a solution is more cost-effective than a centralized video surveillance scheme with one server installed in the data center, to which IP cameras are connected via the Internet (you will be surprised, but there are also installations where people rent 100 - megabit channels with VPN, and then tell how they deal with dropped frames). When using the Surveillance CMS scheme, you save on the lease of communication bandwidth from the central office to the branches, IP cameras do not load the VPN gateway, but at the same time, all the records of the video archives of remote offices are easily accessible to you. as if they were stored on a central server, plus the centralized management system itself acts as a video recording server for cameras installed in the same office as it.

In addition, the single structure of Surveillance CMS allows you to dynamically distribute licenses for additional IP cameras among all installed video recording servers, as detailed below.

Option 2 - Back up recording servers remotely

One or more Synology NAS are added to Option 1 scheme to back up recording servers installed in remote branches. Communication with branches is carried out via VPN, which allows presenting IP addresses of surveillance cameras in a single local network. In case of failure of any of the remote video recording servers, the backup temporarily takes over its functions. The speed of modern Internet is enough to temporarily transmit a video stream from 4 cameras in 720p resolution, even over 4G/LTE.

Reservation Scheme

As soon as the failed video recording server recovers, the backup machine will switch back the IP cameras to it and write to its disks the videos that were taken while it was not working.

The only thing missing in this case is the ability to automatically lower the quality of the video from the camera to be sure that the video stream will pass through the Internet channel to the central office. The benefit from the centralized location of backup servers will be the higher, the more expensive it costs you for a specialist to visit the place of the DVR breakdown. That is, in those cases when you need to reduce the possible downtime of video surveillance to 10-15 minutes, you do not need a quick response service, and you do not need a service contract for 24x7 support. In the event of a server failure, the video recording process may be interrupted for a few seconds after which all functions will be restored.

By the way, do not forget that you can also configure central management server mirroring through the Synology High Availability service included in the standard Disk Station Manager operating system utilities.

Option 3 - migrating cameras between recording servers

Let's say you decided to upgrade one of the recording servers, or decided to consolidate instead of two Synology DS218 + to install one RS818 +. It couldn't be easier - install the Surveillance CMS package on the new NAS, assign it the role of a video recording server and select the cameras you want to transfer to the new product on the "Migration" tab. At the same time, if you have stored licenses for additional cameras on the management server, then they will also remain activated, and the process of replacing the old NAS will not affect them.

Camera migration

As a result, not only all the settings of IP cameras, but also their video archive will be transferred to the new NAS, after which the old NAS can be safely disconnected and disposed of.

But here it must be borne in mind that camera migration is "not transparent" , that is, initially there was no concept of migration in Surveillance Station, and the developer did not introduce it, but during the transfer IP cameras, each of them is first removed from the donor server, then added to the acceptor server, after which the video archive is moved between the devices. This leads to the fact that remote devices appear in the list of available IP cameras, each with its own archive, as a result, in the `` timeline '' view mode you see both active and remote IP cameras, and if you first migrated a camera from an active host to a backup one, and then returned it back, then confusion arises.

Another unpleasant moment was that during the migration of the camera with the name "Unseen beast" the encoding in the device name was violated, and instead of the letter `` s '' a question mark appeared. Had to make a UTF8 compatible camera title. I really hope that in the future the developer will make a truly transparent migration of IP cameras along with archives and preserving the unchanged device ID.

How many devices are supported on one network?

As the saying goes, commanding is always easier than building, and even the simplest NAS Synology, in centralized management mode, can provide a video surveillance network of hundreds of IP cameras. When choosing a NAS as a centralized management system for Surveillance CMS, you can refer to the following table:

Model name Maximum number
recording servers
Maximum
number of IP cameras
RS18017xs + 300 5000
RS3617xs 150 2000
DS1517 + 40 1000
DS718 + 15 300
DS218 + 5 100

Moreover, these figures are not software or licensing restrictions, but the values ​​obtained based on the manufacturer's tests. We have already said that there is a general account of IP camera licenses in the common CMS infrastructure, so let's see how this is implemented.

Distribution of licenses for IP cameras in the pool

Each Synology NAS supports up to two IP cameras by default, each one requires purchasing and activating a license pack. Each license is activated for a specific device and is tied to it for the entire life of the NAS. The Surveillance CMS structure summarizes the licenses of all video surveillance servers and the centralized management server. In our test conditions, we used three Synology NAS devices: DS1511 +, DS218 +, and RS818 +, each of which only had the default licenses. Having installed RS818 + as a management server, and DS1511 + and DS218 + as video surveillance servers, we were able to use 6 IP cameras, which we can distribute between all three NASs at will, we use 5 physical IP cameras, one of which is connected twice (there is also such a possibility), so in total we have spent 6 licenses.

Shared license pool

But if we set the DS218 + to failover server mode to back up the 7-year-old DS1511 +, its licenses will not count towards the shared pool and Surveillance Station will issue a warning that the number of available IP cameras is exceeded. The recording process in this case will continue, but the timeline and live video view for 2 cameras out of 6 will not work.

What about the commercial licenses if you first installed DS218 + as a video recording server with 10 cameras connected to it, and then decided to change its role to a backup server? To do this, you first need to de-activate licenses for DS218 + and activate them, for example, on RS818 +. We can now change the role of DS218 + by setting it up as a failover server.

Client software and Home Mode

For terminal control, it makes sense to use Surveillance Station Client, available for Windows and Mac OS. Outwardly, it completely repeats the web interface of Surveillance Station, but it works much faster, and the video quality when viewed in it is slightly better, therefore, for weak computers, using the client program is preferable to working from a browser.

The DS Cam client application is available for smartphones, its functionality is limited to playback of recordings and photographs from cameras, as well as viewing live video from all IP cameras combined in Surveillance CMS.

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When using client applications, you must specify the IP address of the centralized management server in the connection settings.

A very interesting and useful function is Home Mode, which allows you to send instant notifications to your mobile phone about what is happening in the protected object when you are not around. A typical use case for such a function: let's say you have an IP camera installed indoors and aimed at the front door. During the day in the office, staff go back and forth, and Surveillance Station CMS just records in normal mode. But when you go home, taking your mobile phone with you, the video surveillance system sees that you have left the office and now you need to not only register the events that are taking place, but also notify you directly to your phone. For example, a camera has detected movement above the front door - you will immediately receive a notification so that you can view the video from your phone and, if necessary, call the police or security. Also, notifications will be sent in case of malfunctions in the CMS structure, both on the server side and on the side of IP cameras.

Of course, Home Mode cannot replace an alarm system and an agreement with departmental security, but it can significantly increase the efficiency of the private security company at the facility, and the security of a house or apartment.

Issue question

Surveillance CMS comes standard with Synology NAS's free features and is free of charge.

Synology RS818 +

In conclusion, I would like to say a little about the NAS-e Synology RS818 + used for testing. This is a 1-unit solution based on a 2.4 GHz Intel Atom C2538 4-core processor. The standard 2GB memory can be expanded to 16GB, which makes sense when deploying virtual machines using Synology Virtual Machine Manager. This NAS is one of Synology's most affordable rack-mount solutions, and the storage capacity can be expanded with a single 4-bay RX418 enclosure.

This is the starting level of a low-power rack-mount NAS that can be kept as a backup server in a surveillance structure. The device has 1 PCI Express Gen2 4x expansion slot (in 8x slot format) that can accommodate an optional network card. We tested the 10-gigabit Intel X520-DA2, and it worked like a native one, and in the web-based storage interface, two 10-gigabit ports were added to the 4 built-in gigabit ports.

When 6 test cameras were connected with constant recording at maximum quality, the total network flow was about 30 Mbps, while the maximum load on the data section ranged from 2 to 80 IOPS and the average value over an hour about 30 IOPS. We can say that RS818 + does not notice our test cameras, neither in terms of the load on the processor, nor in the load on network interfaces, nor in hard disks and can safely work as a NAS.

Conclusions

The larger your video surveillance network, the more you will feel the benefits of the centralized Surveillance CMS scheme implemented in your enterprise. This technology can be considered not only as a way to facilitate the work with a large number of servers and IP cameras, but also as a way to save money on the devices and communication channels used with remote branches, and what is important - without losing functionality or quality of security.

What we liked about Synology Surveillance CMS:

  • Convenience of working with the entire video surveillance network from one window
  • Ability to backup any Synology servers across your entire infrastructure
  • Using a central server is also like a recording server
  • Ability to batch add video surveillance servers
  • Home Mode Function

What I didn't like:

  • Pre-installed IP camera licenses for backup servers are not counted in the shared pool
  • No built-in redundancy for Surveillance CMS Management Central Server

What I would like to fix:

  • I would like to see the native migration of cameras without interrupting the recording process and without the appearance of disabled cameras with the status of "deleted" in the system.

Most importantly, Surveillance CMS functionality is not only free, but also saves on IP camera licenses, and activating Surveillance CMS does not affect other DiskStation services in any way - you can use file sharing in parallel , use a media server, iSCSI volumes and all other developments of Synology.

Official Synology Website - www.synology.com

Mikhail Degtyarev (aka LIKE OFF)
05/30/2018


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