VMS Vendors Shore Up Their Flank

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Established video management software vendors, fighting pricing pressure from a new crop of low-end suppliers, are realigning their product lines into scalable tiers in hopes of offering small- to mid-size enterprises more robust and scalable products at might cost more out of the box, but promise a lower total cost of ownership over the long term.

For vendors of any software built on open standards and designed to work across multiple platforms, the principal competitive threat has always been commoditization. This has proved no less so for software that manages surveillance systems. Indeed, small companies such as Nuuo (Taiwan), Argus Surveillance (Canada), Digifort (Brazil) and Luxriot (Latvia), offering DVR, NVR and VMS software for PCs that can be purchased and downloaded off the Internet, are peeling off customers at the low end. They can offer operations, which typically use 20 cameras or less, price points at about $50 to $100 per camera, according to research by IP Video Market.

In response, major North American, European and Israeli companies are adopting a three-pronged approach:

* Use of a single core software engine as a common foundation for a line of tiered VMS offerings targeted at different levels of the market;
* Accommodation of multiple inputs, such as analog and digital, and video formats, such as VGA, H.264, MPEG and HDTV; 
* Support of emerging industry specifications such as ONVIF and PSIA, which not only promise greater interoperability among other video equipment, but are likely to extend into the broader ecosystem of IP-based security technology.

In general, these companies see the low-end competitors as a particular threat to sales to customers who have decentralized, dispersed operations under semi-autonomous management. These can be retail and restaurant chains, state university systems, large corporations, and state and city governments. Through new scalable, tiered product lines, the larger vendors hope to pre-empt onesy-twosy buys of low-end software by local management at smaller operations, and instead present corporate or regional security directors with a solution that offers a better cost equation when it is applied across the organization. This not only serves to solidify a long-term relationship between vendor, integrator and user, it provides a way for vendors to protect their distribution channel from Web-based competitors.    

At the 2010 ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits last month, vendors such as Avigilon, March Networks, NICE Systems, Milestone Systems and Genetec discussed their responses to the more competitive low-end, and showcased new or recently-introduced products that aligned with their new strategy.

Avigilon's New Edition

Avigilon, for example, unveiled a smaller version of its Control Center VMS, essentially creating two tiers, the Enterprise Edition and the new Standard Edition, both designated Version 4.6.

The Standard Edition is designed as a cost-effective solution to users with limited requirements now but who expect to grow, said Dave Tynan, vice president of global sales and marketing at Avigilon. Like the Enterprise Edition, the Standard Edition incorporates Avigilon's core software engine, known as High Definition Stream Management, supports ONVIF, third-party IP cameras, and Avigilon's HD, H.264 and panoramic cameras, and analog encoders. It can be more cost-effective because users can opt for an initial install with less features than the Enterprise Edition, then add those features as they need them, Tynan said. "The ability is there," he said. "You don't enable it until you need it."

The Standard Edition is aimed at installations between 20 and 50 cameras. The price is 40 percent less than the Enterprise Edition, Tynan said. It is also easier to install. Tynan acknowledges that low-end players are commoditizing the market, and he believes those vendors will be successful in when it comes to small, stand-alone installations--storefronts and small offices that need less than 10 cameras. However, for users who see video surveillance as a component of overall risk mitigation, "expectations have changed," he said. Low-cost VMSs will not meet the performance or compliance requirements needed. "They are not addressing the needs of the user who asks, 'how can I use [video management] to keep my business thriving.'"

March Networks' Command

Meanwhile, March Networks introduced an end-to-end video management system that brings together its existing NVR and VMS line under a single umbrella, from both a marketing and operational standpoint. For its current customers, its new Command software unifies management of all March Networks NVRs they are currently using under a single interface. For new installations, Command offers and enterprise VMS solution without the need for immediate rip-and-replace of analog or VGA cameras and their management systems.

"If you are an existing March Networks NVR customer, we are giving you an evolution path forward, as Command Enterprise will manage not only our VMS solution as well as our existing NVR line," said Net Payne, chief marketing officer for March Networks. "Over time all the features and functions that our customers have come to know as well as the applications that run on top of our NVR platforms will be part of Command Enterprise." 

Here, again, the strategy is to provide a common framework on which users can grow a video surveillance system. "We took the same things we are known for and made sure they are in there," Payne said. "You can migrate at the pace you want to."

At the same time, with Command, March Networks, which has a strong presence in retail, banking and transportation, aims to offer a lower total cost of ownership through the software's mass configuration and management capabilities. Command supports ONVIF-compliant cameras and devices and open SQL database standards. It enables users to access video from a variety of operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows 7 and Mac OSX, via the browser, which incorporates the Microsoft Silverlight framework for supporting rich media applications.

Play the embedded video for more of Net Payne's comments on Command's migration strategy.



 


NiceVision Net 2.0

NICE Systems coins term "entry-to-enterprise" to describe the single scalable architecture concept. At ASIS, the company introduced NiceVision Net 2.0, which designed to deliver more of the core features of NICE's higher end Smart Video Recorder (SVR) software to NiceVision eXpress, the company's bundled package of VMS software for small and medium-sized video surveillance systems.

Page:   1   2  Next  »

Established video management software vendors, fighting pricing pressure from a new crop of low-end suppliers, are realigning their product lines into scalable tiers in hopes of offering small- to mid-size enterprises more robust and scalable products at might cost more out of the box, but promise a lower total cost of ownership over the long term.

For vendors of any software built on open standards and designed to work across multiple platforms, the principal competitive threat has always been commoditization. This has proved no less so for software that manages surveillance systems. Indeed, small companies such as Nuuo (Taiwan), Argus Surveillance (Canada), Digifort (Brazil) and Luxriot (Latvia), offering DVR, NVR and VMS software for PCs that can be purchased and downloaded off the Internet, are peeling off customers at the low end. They can offer operations, which typically use 20 cameras or less, price points at about $50 to $100 per camera, according to research by IP Video Market.

In response, major North American, European and Israeli companies are adopting a three-pronged approach:

* Use of a single core software engine as a common foundation for a line of tiered VMS offerings targeted at different levels of the market;
* Accommodation of multiple inputs, such as analog and digital, and video formats, such as VGA, H.264, MPEG and HDTV; 
* Support of emerging industry specifications such as ONVIF and PSIA, which not only promise greater interoperability among other video equipment, but are likely to extend into the broader ecosystem of IP-based security technology.

In general, these companies see the low-end competitors as a particular threat to sales to customers who have decentralized, dispersed operations under semi-autonomous management. These can be retail and restaurant chains, state university systems, large corporations, and state and city governments. Through new scalable, tiered product lines, the larger vendors hope to pre-empt onesy-twosy buys of low-end software by local management at smaller operations, and instead present corporate or regional security directors with a solution that offers a better cost equation when it is applied across the organization. This not only serves to solidify a long-term relationship between vendor, integrator and user, it provides a way for vendors to protect their distribution channel from Web-based competitors.    

At the 2010 ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits last month, vendors such as Avigilon, March Networks, NICE Systems, Milestone Systems and Genetec discussed their responses to the more competitive low-end, and showcased new or recently-introduced products that aligned with their new strategy.

Avigilon's New Edition

Avigilon, for example, unveiled a smaller version of its Control Center VMS, essentially creating two tiers, the Enterprise Edition and the new Standard Edition, both designated Version 4.6.

The Standard Edition is designed as a cost-effective solution to users with limited requirements now but who expect to grow, said Dave Tynan, vice president of global sales and marketing at Avigilon. Like the Enterprise Edition, the Standard Edition incorporates Avigilon's core software engine, known as High Definition Stream Management, supports ONVIF, third-party IP cameras, and Avigilon's HD, H.264 and panoramic cameras, and analog encoders. It can be more cost-effective because users can opt for an initial install with less features than the Enterprise Edition, then add those features as they need them, Tynan said. "The ability is there," he said. "You don't enable it until you need it."

The Standard Edition is aimed at installations between 20 and 50 cameras. The price is 40 percent less than the Enterprise Edition, Tynan said. It is also easier to install. Tynan acknowledges that low-end players are commoditizing the market, and he believes those vendors will be successful in when it comes to small, stand-alone installations--storefronts and small offices that need less than 10 cameras. However, for users who see video surveillance as a component of overall risk mitigation, "expectations have changed," he said. Low-cost VMSs will not meet the performance or compliance requirements needed. "They are not addressing the needs of the user who asks, 'how can I use [video management] to keep my business thriving.'"

March Networks' Command

Meanwhile, March Networks introduced an end-to-end video management system that brings together its existing NVR and VMS line under a single umbrella, from both a marketing and operational standpoint. For its current customers, its new Command software unifies management of all March Networks NVRs they are currently using under a single interface. For new installations, Command offers and enterprise VMS solution without the need for immediate rip-and-replace of analog or VGA cameras and their management systems.

"If you are an existing March Networks NVR customer, we are giving you an evolution path forward, as Command Enterprise will manage not only our VMS solution as well as our existing NVR line," said Net Payne, chief marketing officer for March Networks. "Over time all the features and functions that our customers have come to know as well as the applications that run on top of our NVR platforms will be part of Command Enterprise." 

Here, again, the strategy is to provide a common framework on which users can grow a video surveillance system. "We took the same things we are known for and made sure they are in there," Payne said. "You can migrate at the pace you want to."

At the same time, with Command, March Networks, which has a strong presence in retail, banking and transportation, aims to offer a lower total cost of ownership through the software's mass configuration and management capabilities. Command supports ONVIF-compliant cameras and devices and open SQL database standards. It enables users to access video from a variety of operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows 7 and Mac OSX, via the browser, which incorporates the Microsoft Silverlight framework for supporting rich media applications.

Play the embedded video for more of Net Payne's comments on Command's migration strategy.



 


NiceVision Net 2.0

NICE Systems coins term "entry-to-enterprise" to describe the single scalable architecture concept. At ASIS, the company introduced NiceVision Net 2.0, which designed to deliver more of the core features of NICE's higher end Smart Video Recorder (SVR) software to NiceVision eXpress, the company's bundled package of VMS software for small and medium-sized video surveillance systems.

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As reported the week of the show, the eXpress system is a hybrid platform and up to 64 of its 128 ports can be analog inputs. These inputs can then be gradually switched to digital as the organization changes out cameras.

As with the other VMS suppliers, the goal is provide users with a VMS line with an underlying architecture on which they can build. "Use the same platform of your high-end packaging and licensing, but keep it priced for the low level," said Pat Kiernan, director of marketing for NICE Systems. "As their requirements grow, you supply additional licenses."

Although the per-channel price for NICE software is higher, Kiernan points to cost risks that organizations face if too many of their local operations opt for low-cost PC software--it ends up isolated at their respective sites. "It's a danger zone," he said. "These are small offerings on different platforms. In the end, to move up [to an enterprise-wide system] you're going to end up doing a rip-and-replace." Only then, the systems being replaced will be relatively new IP-based systems, not fully-depreciated analog gear.

Milestone Broadens XProtect Line

While NICE is positioning a high-end product for the mid-sized market, Milestone is taking its highly successful XProtect Enterprise VMS, the market share leader in the mid-size segment, and attacking the high-end. Milestone Corporate 4.0, introduced at ASIS, will scale to handle thousands of cameras, using a federated architecture similar to an approached used by Genetec, its principle competitor at the high end.

Federated architecture unifies the management of "islands" of video systems dispersed throughout an organization, said Christian Bohn, vice president of marketing and product management for Milestone.

"The benefit of the Milestone Federated Architecture [is that] we now have the ability to interconnect all these islands into a huge federated hierarchy," Bohn said. "That means a system administrator will have the ability to go off and create federated hierarchies that can encompass different retail outlets, or it could be a Fortune 100 customer which is creating federated sites covering different countries, different campuses and so forth."

More from Bohn on federated architecture in the embedded video below.




At the same time as it is pursuing the high-end, Milestone is packaging XProtect for the low-end. This summer, the company unveiled XProtect Essential 1.0 and XProtect Go. Essential is designed for small businesses and supports up to 26 cameras. License fee is $99 for the first two cameras, $49 per channel after that. A single server configuration--something of an out-of-the-box VMS--runs on Windows 7 and can support a variety of camera formats, including MPEG-4, H.264 and megapixel.

XProtect Go is a free downloadable package although registration is required after 30 days. That the package supports a maximum of eight cameras, limits recording storage to five days and will not send video to thin clients such as smartphones. 

So nominally, at least, Milestone offers the broadest range of configurations under its XProtect platform, although its smallest-scale offering can be more accurately viewed as a demo system. Nonetheless, the company is attempting to provide a low-cost entry into IP video while hoping to tie that sale into a viable user migration path.

'Powered by Genetec'


Not to be outdone, Genetec, the high-end market leader, was showcasing its Omnicast SV-16 version for small installations, which it introduced in September. Described by the company as "a network security appliance powered by Genetec's software," the product is essentially a version of Omnicast targeted for installations of under 16 cameras.

The SV-16 is a component of the so-called "Powered by Genetec" initiative designed to create a migration path to higher-end versions of Omnicast. The small version supports all compression formats available on the Omnicast platform, including H.264, MPEG-4 and MJPEG. The SV-16 also supports wireless connectivity and offers up to 500 GB of internal storage.

The per-camera software license allows customers to purchase the number of licenses they need initially and grow their system over time. SV-16 deployments can also be tied into a larger corporate VMS system through Genetec's federated architecture, said Francis Lachance, product manager for Genetec. "It's a good value for small-scale installations, but also for multisite operations," he said.

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