Subscriber Discussion

An Unlimited License For VMS Software?

The company that I work for is looking to puchase new IP camera software. Is there a software out that you don't have to buy a license for each camera that you want to put on the server that you will be using? We just want to buy the software and then add the cameras as needed.

We received a quote today and it was a sticker shock to find out that there was a charge per camera.

Please be professional about this because we need everyones help.


Do you have an idea of how many cameras you will be using? Will they be at different locations, or can they all be on the same server?

As of right now we have around 100 cameras in different locations. We have 13 servers and they are in one location.

One obvious way is to use cameras/encoders from a single camera manufacturer. Often, the manufacturer will give away VMS software for free.

Beyond that, Luxriot has a unlimited camera license option (for a single machine) and NLSS simply charges per appliance, allowing you to manage as many cameras as the box can handle.

Have you considered a standalone NVR? They generally don't charge per channel, although some only work with their own brand cameras.

Some "NAS appliances" don't have per-channel licensing either - I believe (not sure) that QNAP's "dedicated NVR" offerings don't use a per-channel license either.

You could also look at cameras with onboard recording and free central management software, like Dahua's cameras and PSS (which can also work as a very limited NVR).

Other than that, John's got probably your best suggestion: cameras whose manufacturer provide free (but proprietary) NVR software.

NVRs are still pricing per channel, in the sense that they typically constrain the number of channels per box, even if the hardware could support more. For example, here's the QNAP VS-6016 which only allows 16 per box.

True, but at least you go into it knowing how many channels you're buying and not getting hit with an additional charge just to add another camera. In other words, no surprises.

You have 13 total servers for 100 cameras and all the servers are in one location? This matters because it impacts software features needed to manage servers/systems (see this recent discussion on managing multiple servers).

To my knowledge, the only way to do that is to get married to one certain brand of product. Still, from what i have seen, even if you do this, there is usually a limit (16-32) of cameras you can put on there if you provide your own server. If you have multiple sites (13 servers for 100 cameras?? - Are you sure that is right), you could deploy the manufactures NVR appliances. (Some vendors that come to mind include ACTI and Vivotek). You could also go to a full edge recording topology (Axis and Bosch have SDXC storage with client software - not sure if there is a limit to the cameras - Bosch and their new Alliance series are very competitive). Of course, it is not know how you plan to use this (how many end users, mobile access via smartphone, storage duration, etc).

Note: Not sure if Zoneminder is still around and supported but the open source community worked on that for years. Free and unlimited cameras. Could also virtualize (13 servers) and run it with VMWare.

To paraphrase an old saying, Zoneminder is only free if your time is worthless.

Zoneminder is fine for a technical hobbyist but the extra time and effort to deploy and maintain it would make purchasing licenses far more attractive. Also, I don't think Zoneminder can compare on features to even mid tier commercial offerings.

Did you look at JVC 32 CHANNEL NETWORK VIDEO RECORDER VR-X3200U? This is an advanced HD capable 32-channel recorder with pre-installed XProtect Enterprise software.

In the price of the unit you get 32 licenses (camera from any manufacturer as long as supported by Milestone). Licensing is done by number and not MAC address. You can disconnect a camera and replace it with a totally different one without any calls to JVC or Milestone. Multiple units can work together in a master-slave configuration

The online price for that JVC recorder is $9,000 so if this end user is looking to save money, this might not be the best option?


If you go by online price you have to add:

32x 1 Mileston camera license + Milestone Enterprise base license + Windows7 license + Hardware to support 32 cameras + installation/configuration cost + capability to change camera manufacturer without buying any more licenses

I think this will value more than $8900 on line price. For me the bigest advantage is, the unit comes preinstalled, prelicensed, working with almost any camera good to be look at...

I am not saying it's more or less expensive than buying these parts individually. My point is this end user is evidently trying to minimize price and, relative to other VMS software, this is clearly expensive.

There is no doubt that Milestone Enterprise is better than many VMSes but this user will have to determine if its worth the premium. Also, if they want high end Milestone, I think Corporate is a far better overall offering.


Was not my intention to start a new conversation regarding advantage of Corporate vs. Enterprise, etc.

I just indicate another source for some "free" licenses,



Adrian, My major point here is that it is not free. That is one of the most expensive options in the market. Just because something is pre-bundled does not make it inexpensive. It may be inexpensive compared to buying Milestone Enterprise licenses individually but those are some of the most expensive in the entire market.

Crucial to this question must be the brand(s) of the current 100 cameras installed? As John and Jeffrey mentioned if they are all from one manufacturer the cheapest option by far is to get that manufacturers VMS/NVR software. Even if there is a mix and the significant majority are from a single manufacturer its should still be cheaper to replace some of those cameras that would become unsupported. Of course the function and flexibility of the "free" VMS will vary significantly and may not be up to the job. Additionally if the cameras are a broad mix then there is little choice but to pay for one of the system suggested above. I would be tempted to suggest an evaluation of Onvif conformance for the existing cameras as this may have an impact on the choice (and price) of the VMS but I'm guessing this is not a viable route for this end user and may well muddy the waters even more!