I got a look at the new BVMS 4.5.1 at Bosch’s Huntingwood HQ with test pilots Stevan Malesevic and Phil Brewer. This is an evolutionary solution – Bosch has been developing its BVMS for many years and the result is an intuitive layout with excellent performance specifications.
The key thing with BVMS is that Bosch now has an enterprise level solution that really lets integrators and security managers pull together multiple new and legacy Bosch sites into a single video wall. It’s an important step for Bosch and the boys are justifiably excited about it.
“Having come from tech support and lived through the evolution of BVMS, where we are right now, everyone has a grin on their face, everyone has 2 thumbs up,” says Malesevic.
“It’s just so exciting for us to have this mature platform that can spread enterprise and mobile connectivity across our whole range from the old Dibos DVR to the new VRS platform, the Advantage line range of DVRs. New BVMS allows centralisation of all these devices onto a single workstation.”
BVMS has some serious grunt. The latest version can manage more than 10,000 cameras and up to 100 operator client connections and the system allows authorized users access to cameras at any connected sites using workstations or mobile clients.
Importantly, while BVMS 4.5.1 is designed to work with all Bosch surveillance products it supports all ONVIF Profile S conformant devices, including HD and megapixel cameras, too. That means BVMS is not a proprietary solution.
End users out there with older Bosch VMS installations rejoice. You can upgrade to BVMS 4.5.1 and enjoy its multi-site architecture by simply upgrading to the BVMS enterprise software. It’s a simple process. When you upgrade the management system to this latest version, the migrates the previous configuration to the latest database format. Sweet.
It goes without saying that BVMS supports multiple methods of storage and playback employing iSCSI storage, Secure Digital or Compact Flash cards in Bosch encoders and IP cameras — as well as all the Bosch gear including Bosch Video Recording Manager iSCSI storage devices and appliances, Bosch Recording Station (BRS) and DiBos Digital Video Recorders.
Something that’s neat from an operational standpoint is that with BVMS you get high system availability and reliability because sites are not dependent on each other for clients. If the central server connection is lost, the operator client continues remains and you still have live playback.
“With the latest version of BVMS V4.5.1 we’ve got a lot of great new features,” Malesevic explains. “Obviously we’ve been working on a few versions but we’ve nailed a couple of the benefits that are coming out now and it’s really exciting in terms of our video management platform.
“BVMS is now a full enterprise solution and we’ve got access through iPad and iPhone with transcoding to manage different link bandwidths – that’s terrific for low bandwidth situations and it’s controllable with the mobile application.
“We’ve also got access via remote connection – instead of a VPN we can get in over a routed network via a NAT – so just standard port forwarding – ideal for sites without a VPN. There’s also a video streaming gateway which allows us to record third party cameras that are ONVIF S compliant.”
According to Malesevic, BVMS also supports VMWare and he points out that as many organisations already have VMWare infrastructure this allows gives users significant flexibility in system setup.
As part of the demo, we drive the system. Fundamentally, BVMS links authorized remote sites allowing what Bosch calls collaborative operations. This means there’s single sign on for authorized operators that can include any combination of sites and systems. Once you’re authorised, away you go.
Now we are online we can check out system operation and it’s immediately clear that this solution is a major improvement on earlier versions. Management is via a directory on the left hand side of the screen and you drill into the directory – multi-site root directory, local site, then folders of camera groups and camera tree.
Control of the video wall is very intuitive – it’s drag and drop allowing the operator to design on the fly the layout of the video wall to meet changing needs. There are a range of screen layouts available and there’s a slider control on the top right of the screen allowing selection of the most common options. If you need to make an image larger, you can select a screen config that makes a scene bigger.
Other controls include timelines, snapshot functions, video export, print images and all the usual Jog/Shuttle type functionality we expect in a solution like this. Something else that I liked was CPU and RAM tachometers in the top right of the screen. These allow operators to check system load at a glance – especially if they notice a performance lag – allowing them to confirm cause.
Important, too, live and playback video can be shared between geographically distributed sites within one large entity or between installations belonging to different operational entities. That’s a neat feature that allows operational redundancy or sharing of operations with emergency services.
Another feature I liked was integrated alarm management that routes critical events to selected user groups. Supporting this feature is a map that’s positioned automatically in accordance with a selected camera.
Overall the client is simple, familiar and functional. As part of the demo room Bosch has set up a video wall monitor adjacent to the client control workstation and this displays cameras of interest so they can be monitored at all times. This display is very clean with selectable display options.
“Something that’s very important is the ability to look over different time zones in enterprise solutions and BVMS now has this capability,” Malesevic explains. “If there are multiple sites covering different time zones you can select a server and then choose to display the local time at the remote server or set it to time at the control room. This is important if images are going to be used as evidence.”
Another key feature is Bosch Mobile client and Transcoding technology which is optimised to meet network constraints. Configuration and operation of these functions is undertaken using the system’s server client architecture coupled with iSCSI streaming. Set up can be handled by any operator workstation or mobile client on an IP network.
“Our transcoding is a great feature,” says Malesevic. “When the mobile device connects to the system, the system asks the mobile client how much bandwidth is available and then advises the optimum video stream it can transmit – that’s dynamic transcoding. The system is always asking what it is sending data to – you don’t have to set a hard limit, the system does this for you.”
Another feature that supports remote viewing is that if you are doing a digital zoom, the system crops that part of the scene from the image stream and this reduces the bandwidth. The result is higher resolution or faster performance on zooms.
As part of our demo, Malesevic pull outs an iPad and we have a play with camera views on a mobile device. This interface is really simple. You get your camera views in a stack on the right hand side of the screen. There’s a nice simple timeline. Performance is not as sharp as it would be with a cabled solution but that’s typical of any mobile device. Most importantly, the stripped down mobile client is a breeze to manage.
Something else that’s very important for many integrators and end user clients is SDKs and BVMS comes with a full toolkit. These allow integration of access control, PSIM, lighting, air conditioning – whatever is required. There’s also bi-directional sharing of information as needed and the APIs and sample codes are available for serious developers.
Among these are a consolidated API interface to systems beyond the BVMS, including a new cameo SDK providing live, playback and export and a client SDK promoting the development of a custom remote control operator client. There’s also a server SDK to receive events and alarms, as well as a remote control system.
“It’s just so exciting for us to have this mature platform that can spread enterprise and mobile connectivity across our whole range”