The Migration Path from Analog to IP Video Surveillance

 In Video Surveillance

Analog video surveillance systems are still widely used. IP video surveillance is however slowly taking over the market, being the choice for most integrators for new installations. Many older buildings still have analog surveillance systems installed, which will require a move to IP surveillance cameras sooner rather than later. These upgrades can be extremely costly, especially when wiring has to be replaced, as well as all of the cameras and the heart of the system, the VMS (Video Management System). The question arises, whether there is a less costly way to swap over to IP surveillance, or even a way to make the change in stages. Luckily, we have an answer to that exact question.

The Migration Path

The rise of IP video surveillance also paved the way for further innovations in the surveillance field, allowing software and cameras to perform more advanced features than ever before. Analog systems cannot take advantage of these functions, which honestly is a shame because these features can save time and money while protecting the premises more efficiently. Upgrading to IP doesn’t have to be a one-time purchase, but instead, can be done in stages. The stages are:

  1. Upgrading the Video Management System and migrating the existing cameras to the new VMS with the help of Encoders.
  2. Replacement of broken cameras with newer IP cameras.
  3. Upgrade cameras in stages to IP cameras, as budget allows.
  4. Integrate external systems, such as access control and alarms.
  5. Complete the migration to IP video surveillance

Upgrading the VMS

The first step in the migration is to change the heart of the video monitoring system. The video management system is either as easy as a DVR or as complicated as multiple servers running multiple instances of software. For the migrations, we always recommend our VMS partner Milestone Systems, because of their easy to use software and numerous other advantages, such as the need for fewer camera licenses and the capability to install the software on the existing server hardware. Replacing the VMS will offer access to the latest features available to new surveillance setups, while also increasing the image quality, though minimally, of the existing analog cameras.

The migration will work by having the primary server(s) or the DVR replaced by new software, such as XProtect by Milestone Systems. The analog cameras themselves are unable to talk to the new software because of the older standards they supports. That’s where the Encoders come in.


An Encoder is a device that takes an analog input from a surveillance camera and outputs it as aAxis Video Encoder Line-upn IP signal. In the process, the image quality is increased by converting the image from a TV Line image to actual pixels.  The encoders are available as single-channel, 4-channel or 16-channel configurations, spanning the capacity of small businesses to enterprise installations.The beauty of the migration to encoders is the minimal need for camera licenses. Milestone XProtect, for example, will require one license per MAC address or network port. In the case of Axis’s 16-channel encoder, only four network ports are outputting the signal of the 16 cameras plugged into the other side. In turn, only four camera licenses are required, saving massively on the initial migration costs.

The only labor that will initially be required is the physical unplugging and reconnecting to the encoders, as well as some programming for the video management software. The initial cost very much depends on the size of the setup, but it is usually around a tenth of the cost to upgrade the entire system in one go. This makes for a very affordable, yet feature-rich migration in the right direction towards IP video surveillance.

Replacing Cameras

To reap the full benefits of IP surveillance, there need to be IP surveillance cameras within the property. Once the VMS is in place with the encoders, cameras can be gradually migrated over to IP cameras. Whether that is done as analog cameras fail, or as budget allows for it. Our recommendation is to swap out the cameras in the sensitive areas, such as entrances, high traffic areas, and problem zones sooner rather than later. Installing IP cameras in those areas allows the system to capture all the required details within the video.

Replacing the cameras is very easy, as our proper design will include a PoE switch in the initial setup already. That means the network infrastructure is already in place, and in some cases the setup is already wired with Category 5 or 6 cabling, minimizing the labor required to install new cameras. In other situations where the wiring is still coaxial cable, which is primarily used for analog cameras, new wiring will have to be run. If the wiring has to be replaced, it is usually more cost effective to replace cameras in clusters, allowing multiple wires to be pulled at the same time. Cameras can then be replaced in pairs or counts of four, for example, making the migration still cost effective over time.

Integrating Systems

The beauty of IP video surveillance systems is the integration with other systems. Access control and Alarm systems can be tied together through one central software. Milestone, for example, will allow for multiple systems to be monitored via the same interface which opens a full opportunity for further video analytics and easier management. Tying access and video together allows for immediate identification of the person trying to gain entry. The two systems linked together can provide an image of the cardholder upon their swipe. From there an event will be created that allows for easy viewing later on, as well as snapshots that can be sent via email or saved locally.

These solutions are available even if the cameras are still analog cameras, as long as encoders are used and a full blown video management software. Switching from Analog to IP can be done gradually, and so can the integration of different systems. When upgrading the VMS, it does not automatically mean the access control add-on has to be included right away. Instead the solutions can be added at any time when budget allows or the need for it arises.


When looking to upgrade your video surveillance setup from an analog system to an IP system, we recommend to find out about all the options. Often integrators will push you to spend money on an entirely new system, while there are solutions that will help slowly migrate your system. Our offering includes both, slow migrations or the option to jump right in with a brand new system. We can contribute to integrate both solutions and will stand by your side during the migration period. Whether slow or a one-time investment, IP video surveillance solutions are worth the investment. Not only will they bring more clarity to all recorded video, but they offer a myriad of functions that are impossible with an analog system.

Call or email us today to discuss your setup. We can provide a few different quotes, which will make it easier to decide whether a slow migration or a one-time investment is the best way to go. Call us at 1-844-230-2730 or email us at [email protected]. Our team is ready to help you with your video surveillance upgrade.

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