Webinar: Achieving Interoperability with ONVIF

January 11, 2018


On Thursday, Jan. 11, the SIA Webinar series covered various topics surrounding industry standards in a webinar titled “The Standards War: Is it Over?” Speaker Per Bjorkdahl, current Chair of the ONVIF Steering Committee, discussed the following topics:

  • Overview of ONVIF
  • Emergence of IP-based standards
  • Differences between ONVIF and other standards
  • Keys to establishing a successful standard
  • How systems can be built using multiple standards
  • Standards taking security beyond security

Overview of ONVIF

ONVIF was founded in 2008 by leading video firms Axis, Sony and Bosch to standardize network video product interfaces. The company’s first conformant product launched in 2009. By 2011, ONVIF began to release profiles in addition to specifications. Bjorkdahl discussed how the idea of a profile is that it is immune to version changes within specifications. Profiles are a way to keep conformance for as long as the profile is “alive.” ONVIF currently has more than 9,000 conformant products.

Emergence of Standards

Bjorkdahl discussed how products must be able to connect to an IP network. It is driven by analytics, real-time decisions and complete connectivity. Full utilization of standards provides true IoT, openness and unlimited interoperability.

Benefits of Standards

One of the benefits of standards is increased flexibility and greater freedom of choice by having the ability to select interoperable products from various brands. This means you are no longer locked into one manufacturer, brand or vendor.

Another benefit is that companies can futureproof systems and have a more secure investment. Companies can rely on the system for years and years by turning to conformant products without having to worry if a manufacturer is still supporting that specific product for your system.  

Bjorkdahl discussed that reliable interoperability is a benefit of standards because it is an easy set-up mechanism and advanced security for flexible, cost-effective solutions.

Lastly, benefits of standards provide simplified installation, IP-based physical security products that are easily installed and deployed.

Differences Between ONVIF and other standards

Bjorkdahl stated that standards within the security industry are complementary, not competitive and can be used together. ONVIF operates on a client level/system to system, whereas other organizations operate controller to keypad (device to device), credential management or wireless device connectivity. ONVIF is committed to working in tandem and collaboration with other standards organizations. Benefits of ONVIF standards include the following:

  • Service-oriented architecture
  • Replace/update components as needed
  • Separate configuration from control/monitoring
  • Interdisciplinary interoperability
  • Interoperability between access control and video

Also, an ONVIF client will expect that all information is store on end-devices and can be changed by others.


How systems can be built using multiple standards

Proprietary vs Open

  • Proprietary Approach
    • Long development process and life cycle
    • Allowed companies to capture market share
    • Unable to take advantage of new tech
  • Open Approach of IP and Open Interfaces
    • Let ONVIF/other standards handle specialties
    • Focus on development of features instead of interfaces
    • Provides platform for business growth

Standards taking security beyond security

Bjorkdahl stated that there are a lot of features that can be far more efficient if we can build those integrated systems and open standards, where we don’t have to worry is defining and developing the specific drivers for the specific manufacturers.

  • Logical and physical identity management
  • Workflow automation
  • Utilization optimization and data analytics
  • Building automation
  • HVAC
  • Elevator control
  • Fire detection and suppression and mass notification systems

Some of the barriers to wider adoption of open standards include:

  • Supplier concerns about their competition
  • Open systems lack of advanced functionality
  • Security system end users are slow to trust and adopt new technology
  • Cybersecurity concerns over integrating multiple systems

Bjorkdahl discussed how open standards are the key to the future for three specific reasons:

  1. End users are becoming increasingly educated on importance and value of open systems approach.
  2. Open standards enable users to protect their investments by ensuring freedom of choice as the market innovates.
  3. Open standards live ONVIF are mature and proven in the market.


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