ONVIF Blog

Paving the way for interoperability

November 7, 2019 by Per Björkdahl

ONVIF started a little over ten years ago after it was founded by Axis, Bosch and Sony. In that time, the organization has experienced many milestones as a direct result of member collaboration. Read on for a short interview, first appearing on the Security Industry Group website, to learn more about the progression of standards. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how we develop our specifications based on feedback from our member companies. As a member driven organization, our member companies are paramount in every step of the standardization process. The advantage of the profile approach is that a number of features and implementation specifics can be defined under one umbrella and with greater specificity. The idea behind going with the profile approach to standardization was that if manufacturers developed products in accordance with the profile, their products would work together regardless of the manufacturer of the VMS or camera. ONVIF Profile S was released in 2011 following two years in development. If a product is Profile S conformant, it will always be conformant, regardless of when it is manufactured. 

After decades of using proprietary protocols and interfaces it seems that the industry is now more open towards embracing industry standards. Do you agree with that perception? What is your opinion on what is the cause of that? How do you see this progress? 
Standards are contributing greatly to the growth of the physical security market, so in turn many manufacturers have embraced the initiative. With adoptable standards in place, developers and integrators can focus on creating the best solutions for their customers. Standards, such as those offered by ONVIF, foster innovation by providing a common language between different manufacturers’ products, in turn allowing security professionals to focus more on cutting edge, best of breed solutions. Without standards, the industry would face a build once and maintain forever business model, but standards set the foundation that can be built upon long-term. By embracing interoperability, users can commit to systems with the peace of mind that they are scalable, cost-effective, and easy to maintain.

ONVIF consists of six protocols. Which one is most popular? What is the current penetration ration in the relevant industry segment?
Profile S for basic video streaming is the most widely adopted profile on the market today, and was also the first ONVIF profile deployed in 2011, following two years of development. Profile S is responsible for most of the 13,000 conformant products available today. As the industry changes, however, so must the profiles provided by ONVIF to adapt to new technologies and needs. Profile S for video streaming has been the most widely adopted ONVIF profile to date, but its successor, Profile T for advanced video streaming, has been the most quickly adopted since its final release last year, with over 3000 Profile T conformant products available. In the long run, Profile T is intended to replace Profile S, and will support both H.264 and H.265 enhancements. It has many of the same features as its predecessor with room for new advances, such as bidirectional audio streaming, allowing the client to talk back to the camera, which was not possible with Profile S. 

How are you progressing with the profiles for access control? What is the general market response to it?
Two years after its founding, ONVIF extended its scope to include access control. Because of the framework established, the group’s scope for standards can include any discipline within the physical security industry and is no longer solely focused on video. ONVIF now has two profiles for access control: Profile A for access control configuration and Profile C for door control and event management. In contrast to the video surveillance market, access control technology has historically been slow to change in large part because of the high upfront costs to acquire and install a system and the longevity of the equipment — commonly between 12 and 20 years. End users and their need for open network-based infrastructures are driving recent changes in this market, as the line between physical security and IT continues to blur. Physical security systems are now often managed by IT departments and IT directors are rightfully demanding open architecture approaches (like IP networks) rather than the proprietary and sometimes duplicative design of traditional security systems. 

Any future plans you can share?
ONVIF is a member driven organization and operates on the basis of consensus. The next ONVIF profile will be developed based on feedback from ONVIF members and the physical security industry at large. A new profile is currently in development. Be sure to check the ONVIF website often for updates on progress.

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