<span class=”as-appeared-in”>This is the 34th article in the award-winning “Real Words or Buzzwords?” series about how real words become empty words and stifle technology progress.</span>
By Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III
A definition for “high-performance” must account for the fact that high-performance characteristics will vary considerably from one type of physical security product or system to another. Thus, it would necessarily have to be an abstract definition that could be easily applicable to various products or systems, and account for the fact that any product’s or system’s performance may be subject to factors that require adjustment over time, so that the initial high-performance was sustainable. That addresses the type of complaint we would often see from end-user customers who were initially satisfied with a product or system but found that over time its performance dropped to an unacceptable level.
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Real Words or Buzzwords?
The Award-Winning Article Series
#1 Proof of the buzzword that killed tech advances in the security industry—but not other industries.
#2 Next Generation (NextGen): A sure way to tell hype from reality.
#3 Customer Centric: Why all security industry companies aren't customer centric.
#4 Best of Breed: What it should mean to companies and their customers.
#5 Open: An openness scale to rate platforms and systems
#6 Network-friendly: It's much more than network connectivity.
#7 Mobile first: Not what it sounds like.
#8 Enterprise Class (Part One): To qualify as Enterprise Class system today is world's beyond what it was yesterday.
#9 Enterprise Class (Part Two): Enterprise Class must be more than just a top-level label.
#10 Enterprise Class (Part Three): Enterprise Class must be 21st century technology.
#11 Intuitive: It’s about time that we had a real-world testable definition for “intuitive”.
#12 State of the Art: A perspective for right-setting our own thinking about technologies.
#13 True Cloud (Part One): Fully evaluating cloud product offerings.
#14 True Cloud (Part Two): Examining the characteristics of 'native-cloud' applications.
#15 True Cloud (Part Three): Due diligence in testing cloud systems.
#16 IP-based, IP-enabled, IP-capable, or IP-connectable?: A perspective for right-setting our own thinking about technologies.
#17 Five Nines: Many people equate high availability with good user experience, yet many more factors are critically important.
#18 Robust: Words like “robust” must be followed by design specifics to be meaningful.
#19 Serverless Computing – Part 1: Why "serverless computing" is critical for some cloud offerings.
#20 Serverless Computing – Part 2: Why full virtualization is the future of cloud computing.
#21 Situational Awareness – Part 1: What products provide situational awareness?
#22 Situational Awareness – Part 2: Why system designs are incomplete without situational awareness?
#23 Situational Awareness – Part 3: How mobile devices change the situational awareness landscape?
#24 Situational Awareness – Part 4: Why situational awareness is a must for security system maintenance and acceptable uptime.
#25 Situational Awareness – Part 5: We are now entering the era of smart buildings and facilities. We must design integrated security systems that are much smarter than those we have designed in the past.
#26 Situational Awareness – Part 6: Developing modern day situational awareness solutions requires moving beyond 20th century thinking.
#27 Situational Awareness – Part 7: Modern day incident response deserves the help that modern technology can provide but doesn’t yet. Filling this void is one of the great security industry opportunities of our time.
#28 Unicity: Security solutions providers can spur innovation by envisioning how the Unicity concept can extend and strengthen physical access into real-time presence management.
#29 The API Economy: Why The API Economy will have a significant impact on the physical security industry moving forward.
#31 The Built Environment: In the 21st century, “the built environment” means so much more than it did just two decades ago.
#32 Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure has been a hot phrase in IT for several years, but do its promises hold true for the physical security industry?
#33 Software-Defined: Cloud-computing technology, with its many software-defined elements, is bringing self-scaling real-time performance capabilities to physical security system technology.
#34 High-Performance: How the right use of "high-performance" can accelerate the adoption of truly high-performing emerging technologies.
#35 Erasure Coding: Why RAID drive arrays don’t work anymore for video storage, and why Erasure Coding does.
#36 Presence Control: Anyone responsible for access control management or smart building experience must understand and apply presence control.
#37 Internet+: The Internet has evolved into much more than the information superhighway it was originally conceived to be.
#38 Digital Twin: Though few in physical security are familiar with the concept, it holds enormous potential for the industry.
#39 Fog Computing: Though commonly misunderstood, the concept of fog computing has become critically important to physical security systems.
#40 Scale - Part 1: Although many security-industry thought leaders have advocated that we should be “learning from IT,” there is still insufficient emphasis on learning about IT practices, especially for large-scale deployments.
#41 Scale - Part 2: Why the industry has yet to fully grasp what the ‘Internet of Things’ means for scaling physical security devices and systems.
#42 Cyberspace - Part 1: Thought to be an outdated term by some, understanding ‘Cyberspace’ and how it differs from ‘Cyber’ is paramount for security practitioners.
#43 Cyber-Physical Systems - Part 1: We must understand what it means that electronic physical security systems are cyber-physical systems.
#44 Cyberspace - Part 2: Thought to be an outdated term by some, understanding ‘Cyberspace’ and how it differs from ‘Cyber’ is paramount for security practitioners.
#45 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning: Examining the differences in these technologies and their respective benefits for the security industry.
#46 VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: At first glance, VDI doesn’t seem to have much application to a SOC deployment. But a closer look reveals why it is actually of critical importance.
#47 Hybrid Cloud: The definition of hybrid cloud has evolved, and it’s important to understand the implications for physical security system deployments.
#48 Legacy: How you define ‘legacy technology’ may determine whether you get to update or replace critical systems.
#49 H.264 - Part 1: Examining the terms involved in camera stream configuration settings and why they are important.
#50 H.264 - Part 2: A look at the different H.264 video frame types and how they relate to intended uses of video.
#51 H.264 - Part 3: Once seen as just a marketing term, ‘smart codecs’ have revolutionized video compression.
#52 Presence Technologies: The proliferation of IoT sensors and devices, plus the current impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have elevated the capabilities and the importance of presence technologies.
#53 Anonymization, Encryption and Governance: The exponential advance of information technologies requires an exponential advance in the application of data protection.
#54 Computer Vision: Why a good understanding of the computer vision concept is important for evaluating today’s security video analytics products.
#55 55 Exponential Technology Advancement: The next 10 years of security technology will bring more change than in the entire history of the industry to now.
More to come about every other week.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s website contains the contents of a book titled, Performance Specifications Strategic Roadmap: A Vision for the Future. Chapter two is titled, Performance Specifications. Naturally, the book talks about the mechanical properties of concrete and other building materials. But what about a high-performance software product or a system? We’re writing performance specifications about them. Is there a way to make a requirement for “high performance” meaningful?
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) publishes guidelines and standards for specification writing, including guidance and requirements for the famous three-part CSI specification, with the very familiar Part One, Part Two and Part Three headings.
The following text is taken from the SectionFormat™/PageFormat™ 2009 document, from Section Format page 21, in a slightly different order than in the document.
“Any section that specifies a product should include ‘Design and Performance Criteria’ in Part 2.”
“Include performance-related characteristics of products.”
“Performance characteristics may apply to systems, assemblies, components, and materials.”
“Include appropriate methods of substantiating performance characteristics . . .”
“Performance should be capable of being verified by observations or tests and stated as: (1) a property name; (2) a value and units of measure, if applicable; and (3) a method of evaluating or verifying performance, such as a test method.”
The challenge with high performance to develop a definition that would provide or characterize performance-related characteristics that would be objectively verifiable.
A definition for “high-performance” must account for the fact that high-performance characteristics will vary considerably from one type of physical security product or system to another. Thus, it would necessarily have be an abstract definition that could be easily applicable to various products or systems, and account for the fact that any product’s or system’s performance may be subject to factors that require adjustment over time, so that the initial high-performance was sustainable. That addresses the type of complaint we would often see from end-user customers who were initially satisfied with a product or system but found that over time its performance dropped to an unacceptable level.
Note that it’s “high-performance” with a dash when an adjective, such as “the system has eight key high-performance characteristics”, or “high performance” as two separate words, when a noun, such as “the system achieves high performance through six key capabilities.”
Here is a definition for high performance that addresses those requirements for systems:
High Performance: System performance that is demonstrably and sustainably higher than what is typical in the system domain, providing (a) performance metrics, (b) performance logs, and (c) controls for performance factors, to facilitate ongoing performance management and troubleshooting.
That would be a system with meaningful high performance. Such a definition, then, gives the specification writer the task to define the performance capabilities as design, performance or functional requirements with enough specificity that they can be verified through inspection or testing. For a product promotional piece, to be effective the piece must describe what the high-performance factors are – relative to competition if that can be done – and what the value of each high-performance element is. Performance test results can help, especially if comparative to (a) other products in a product line, (b) competing products, (c) a known standard or (d) a deployment constraint (for example, for something to happen within a specific time frame).
Cloud VMS Example
Customer Internet service usage and security video on-premises network usage can change over time. Thus, there must be a way to be proactive in ensuring that video management systems and their networks perform as intended regarding network bandwidth usage. Standard IT tools can’t present the security systems-specific information that is needed, which must include per-camera metrics as well as overall aggregate system metrics. Respecting the available bandwidth is a critical requirement for a networked security video system.
The Eagle Eye Networks Cloud VMS provides a dashboard graphing 13 cloud video system performance metrics for that reason. When transmitting video via the customer’s Internet connection to the Cloud VMS, its on-premises video buffering appliances will store video for up to two days (for example), utilizing configured network bandwidth usage allowances, such as using only 20% of available bandwidth during normal business hours, and 75% of available bandwidth during off hours. Per-camera and overall aggregate metrics are provided in a 7-day graph, for both Internet bandwidth usage and buffer disk space usage. Service providers can be alerted when either usage approaches a specific threshold, and when business network traffic or camera network traffic changes, appliance configuration can be adjusted if needed.
The Eagle Eye high-performance factors include providing optimum usage of available bandwidth, related metrics, and configuration controls that allow the appliance performance parameters to be adjusted. The costlier alternatives for cloud system appliances such those capabilities would be (a) over-provisioning of both network bandwidth and local storage for worst-case scenarios, to provide assurance that video will always be transmittable in real-time to the cloud, or (b) reducing image resolution and frame rates – neither of which would be necessary with a well-engineered cloud video management system. System performance capabilities should never restrict security system operations capabilities and should always have the capacity to support the desired performance of the security devices that are part of the deployment.
A&E specifications should identify all the performance factors that contribute to the system’s high-performance capabilities, so that the basis of high performance can be understood. Some performance factors may be user-configurable or selectable. Some system high-performance functionality may be dependent on external factors, such as switch configuration and capacity. The effectiveness or accuracy of some video analytics can be dependent upon controllable or uncontrollable factors in the target area being monitored.
Specifying or Selecting Products Based on High Performance
As the physical security industry continues to mature, we’ll see a greater percentage of high-performance claims being documented in ways that make product evaluation and selection an easier task than it is now.
The next Real Words or Buzzwords? article will address a powerful data fault tolerance technology whose name provides no clue as to its meaning or value—but whose use can significantly revolutionize the resiliency and availability performance of security video systems.
Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities (www.go-rbcs.com). In 2018 IFSEC Global listed Ray as #12 in the world’s top 30 Security Thought Leaders. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is a Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (SEC) and an active member of the ASIS International member councils for Physical Security and IT Security. Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.
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