Stuart Rawling

Chairman, ONVIF Communication Committee

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Stuart Rawling is Chairman of the ONVIF Communication Committee.
May 11, 2015

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5 Things Installers Need to Know About ONVIF

stuart onvifSet up by Axis, Bosch and Sony in 2008 ONVIF has become the definitive standard against which vendors develop IP security products.

In an era where security technologies are ever-more integrated with one another the need for a global, open industry forum like ONVIF is only becoming more important.

So what do installers need to know about ONVIF?

1. ONVIF’s current profiles (standards)

A common interface allows system integrators to easily connect technologies made by different manufacturers or brands. ONVIF profiles group together sets of features to make product selection easier for end users and systems integrators.

In order to claim ONVIF compliance, products must be conformant with one or more of ONVIF’s specific profiles. ONVIF’s current profiles are: Profile S for IP-based Video and Audio Streaming, Profile G for Edge Storage and Retrieval, Profile C for IP-based Access Control and Profile Q for Easy Configuration and Advanced Security.

2.  Why ONVIF standards matter to integrators

A common interface allows integrators to use technologies from different manufacturers together. This concept of designing devices to work with other brands or technologies is often referred to as interoperability.

Interoperability typically equals a reduction in the time spent on the design and installation process, both in current and future installations or upgrades.

From the end user side, the benefit is freedom of choice. Using ONVIF-conformant products prevents end users from being locked into using solutions from a single manufacturer and being tied to that manufacturer for years to come.

ONVIF standards are gaining broad adoption across the physical security industry. ONVIF has grown to include more than 500 member companies and more than 4,000 conformant products. ONVIF is the largest organisation of its kind in the world.

Since its inception, the organisation has seen its memberships grow by a steady rate each year, with the number of conformant products increasing by 250% in the last three years alone. All of this growth shows the need for global interoperability.

3. ONVIF conformance

When a product is ONVIF-conformant, it means the client or device works with other products that are conformant. For example, a Profile C device is made to work with a Profile C client.

Manufacturers that are conformant have completed the formal conformance process and have submitted official documentation and product test results to ONVIF. As an integrator, the only way to determine if a product is officially conformant with an ONVIF Profile is to check ONVIF’s website.

Something to keep in mind is that ONVIF profiles determine interoperability between products, not the specific feature sets of the individual products. Therefore, one device that is Profile S conformant may be less expensive or have additional features when compared with another Profile S conformant device.

4. Profile Q

Profile Q, ONVIF’s newest profile, is especially relevant to system integrators. The two main features of Profile Q are easy set-up and advanced security features. Profile Q makes configuration and the use of advanced security features easier.

With an easy set-up mechanism and basic device level configuration, Profile Q manufacturers have ONVIF automatically enabled for products that are Profile Q conformant.

For the integrator, that means time saved, because the installer doesn’t need to activate ONVIF or search for instructions on how to do so. Profile Q conformant devices are also easily discovered and feature factory reset functionality.

Profile Q supports Transport Layer Security (TLS), the widely used cryptographic protocol that is designed to provide communication security. TLS uses certificates and asymmetric cryptography to authenticate the data transferred between parties.

TLS protocol allows Profile Q to manage certificates and keys on ONVIF devices themselves. Once set up, Profile Q devices and clients can communicate across a shared network without being vulnerable to tampering and eavesdropping.

5. We want your input

As an organisation, we recognise the importance of making ONVIF as inclusive as possible. As a result, in 2014 ONVIF introduced a new level of membership, the observer membership, specifically to provide access to the ONVIF test tool.

This basic membership level allows systems integrators to individually independently test products to determine their conformance with ONVIF profiles, which can enable integrators to impartially evaluate different products.

As ONVIF moves forward, it will be seeking more participation from integrators and consultants as new profiles are considered and tested. When it comes to interoperability, users now demand it, and as a result, established standards are mandatory.

As technology changes within the physical security industry, ONVIF and other organisations will continue to establish new profiles and standards, and the integrator’s perspective will become increasingly important. Integrators and system specifiers can provide a real-world perspective to the discussion within ONVIF, helping to shape the standards of the future.


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