How to use ONVIF profiles to ensure interoperability

November 13, 2023 by ONVIF

Interoperability has long been an important focus of the security industry. End users, integrators, and manufacturers alike recognize the value of security technology that can talk with products from different vendors. They also recognize the importance of security technology that can effectively use different feature sets from these technology sources.

Until the introduction of profiles from ONVIF, interoperability assurances were limited. It was often difficult for an integrator, consultant or those in the architect and engineer community to know if a feature from one product would truly be supported when paired with a product from a different vendor. This has grown particularly important as security professionals recognize the value of not being locked into a specific brand for each device that is part of a surveillance system and the ability to adopt a best-of-breed approach.

Over the past 15 years, ONVIF has developed seven different profiles that address video surveillance, access control and alarm management features and capabilities. Profiles provide a fixed set of features that are grouped together for different uses – video streaming with Profile T and Profile S, video recording and storage with Profile G or metadata and video analytics event handling with Profile M. Products that are both conformant to a specific profile – for example, a video management software client and a device, such as a camera –  will support the features included in that profile. 

Ensuring feature compatibility

One important thing to note is that some features are mandatory while others are conditional. Support for events triggered by motion detection in Profile T is mandatory for the software client and the device. Support for PTZ control in Profile T is mandatory only for a client and not a device, as not all Profile T conformant devices are PTZ cameras, but could be box and bullet cameras or other devices that stream video. When pairing different products, integrators, consultants and end users can verify which features are mandatory or conditional by consulting the ONVIF Profile Feature Overview to see a comparison of the features supported by all ONVIF profiles, and whether the features are mandatory or conditional for a conformant device or client.

Integrated Product Choice

While many manufacturers in the security industry boast robust product lines with multiple offerings – such as different camera lines, NVRs and video management software –  implementing a single source solution can seem like an easy choice. For many, this isn’t the best option as this locks an end user into using only products from that one vendor.

End users find value in being able to leverage best-of-breed technology and having the ability to select which products work best for their evolving security needs. By leveraging profiles from ONVIF, end users can leverage a variety of different devices from multiple vendors.

Future Proof

One of the biggest challenges faced in the security industry is how to ensure that the security devices installed today continue to remain usable in the future, whether the goal is to retain the technology for three, five or 10 years.  It’s not uncommon for an end user to have a strategic plan in place to adopt new technology as their budget allows, but this process can be problematic when working with a proprietary system. 

Specifying and installing security devices that leverage ONVIF profiles can take the guesswork out of whether any future additions to the system can be supported. With ONVIF, an end-user who wants to swap out one brand of megapixel cameras for another brand with newer capabilities can do so as long as their VMS and the cameras are profile conformant. This gives them the assurance that the new camera technology will work with their existing VMS system. 

By selecting ONVIF Profile conformant products, end users, integrators and consultants can build a system based on the unique needs of a specific application with the knowledge that it can be scalable, flexible and last well into the future.

Want to learn more about ONVIF profiles and the specific features of each? Click here for the complete list.


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