Linksys, the longtime network equipment provider to the small business world, virtually disappeared when it was swallowed up by Cisco Systems in 2003. Now, as part of Belkin International Inc., Linksys-branded products are back in a big way to help small and midsize businesses once again. The new LCAM0336OD 1080p 3MP Indoor/Outdoor 360 Mini-Dome Camera, for example, offers security resellers a midmarket product for a small business budget, at least when talking about stepping up from the $100 cameras not fit for professional surveillance systems.
Labeled "vandal-resistant" rather than vandal-proof, the LCAM0336OD can be mounted on the ceiling, wall, or at ground level. Paper templates to guide the hole-drilling are handy, although the Boss of the Lab (wife) refused the introduction of drill to drywall. With my carpentry history, that's the smart choice. Just make sure your installation tech can handle minor construction. It is an IP camera, but low-tech drills and tools are part of the process.
This model camera runs with PoE (Power over Ethernet) supplied by the network cable. An external power source is optional and not included in the base package. Record-only audio is supported, but we don't have the equipment to test that feature.
Like all good IP cameras, the Linksys unit works with just a browser. In this case, the browser must be Internet Explorer, and even then the camera doesn't seem completely happy (Figure 1). In the browser view, the default is snapshots every five seconds. Clicking the Motion Detection item on the left menu tree turns on what is essentially live streaming when there's motion in the coverage area.
Very Microsoft-centric, the Linksys Video Surveillance Monitor program demands both a .NET framework and Microsoft SQL 2008 Express, meaning a ton of new files load before the software starts its installation. Once the Microsoft files flood your disk, the Linksys software installs quickly and normally.
Starting the Video Surveillance Monitor software begins the search for available cameras, which are listed on the right. Check the box by the camera name in the main display area and the program will enable the camera.
For home security use, Linksys includes a generic map of a house. If you have a map of your client's business, you can customize the management program to a specific location. Generally, businesses are more likely to have such a map than a homeowner, but either way you can personalize the display.
Configuration options inside the software are numerous and unusual to data-only network folks (Figure 2). Before offering too much customization to your clients, learn about video surveillance done with dedicated, non-IP equipment, or consider working with a video-oriented security installation company. It could be a good partnership, especially if you're adding surveillance and managed services all at once.