There are two different types of hardware platforms for a network video management system: a PC server platform involving one or more PCs that run a video management software program, and one based on a network video recorder (NVR), which is a proprietary hardware with preinstalled video management software.
PC server platform
A video management solution based on a PC server platform involves PC servers and storage equipment that can be selected off the shelf to obtain the maximum performance for the specific design of the system. Such an open platform makes it easier to add functionality to the system, such as increased or external storage, firewalls, virus protection and intelligent video algorithms, in parallel with a video management software program.
A PC server platform is also fully scalable, enabling any number of network video products to be added to the system as needed. The system hardware can be expanded or upgraded to meet increased performance requirements. An open platform also enables easier integration with other systems such as access control, building management, and industrial control. This allows users to manage video and other building controls through a single program and user interface. For more on servers and storage, see Bandwidth and storage considerations.
A network video recorder comes as a hardware box with preinstalled video management functionalities. In this sense, an NVR is similar to a DVR. (Some DVRs, often called hybrid DVRs, also include an NVR function; i.e., the ability to also record network-based video.)
An NVR hardware is often proprietary and specifically designed for video management. It is dedicated to its specific tasks of recording, analyzing and playing back network video, and often does not allow for any other applications to reside on them. The operating system can be Windows, UNIX/Linux or proprietary.
An NVR is designed to offer optimal performance for up to a set number of cameras, and is normally less scalable than a PC server-based system. This makes the unit suitable for smaller systems where the number of cameras stays within the limits of an NVR’s designed capacity. An NVR is normally easier to install than a system based on a PC server platform.