Avigilon Openness Is Maybe A 3 / 10

From a member's comment here:

"If there were a measure of the "openness" of a software my personal view is Milestone is about 7 out of 10 while Avigilon would be a 3 maybe. Still Avigilon seems to be doing quite ok(ish) so there are enough Owners and Partners who are not so bothered by the closeness of it.... thus our fear that Milestone would go more closed in the future ( maybe down to 5 ) could be a bit paranoid ( maybe it won't get to 5 or 4 or maybe it won't be so bad for Partners once it gets there )... at least this was my (too long) logic."

I am moving this here so it does not derail the Milestone / OnSSI breakup post. Feel free to comment and give your own take on Avigilon's openness.


I'll copy my comment from the other thread over here:

Vlad - I don't want to toally derail this thread, but I'm curious why you think ACC is "closed" (or a 3 open-ness ;) )

ACC supports a variety of non-Avigilon cameras, encoders and other software integrations.

What features/functions make Milestone more open in your view?

How often does Avigilon do direct integration with 3rd party cameras these days vs using ONVIF? Related, how widely supported is 3rd party camera VMD support?

In general, I think the preference is to use and promote ONVIF. A "direct" integration would most likely be driven by market (customer) demand.

I honestly don't have much info on 3rd party camera VMD support, for what I'm involved in (analytics-driven sales), it's all AVO cameras and software. If a 3rd party camera is used it's for a non-critical area (interior shot, etc.) where the motion-detection requirements aren't a driving factor.

If motion-detection is important, IMO you can't beat the granularity and flexibility of the AVO cameras (and I'm not saying that just because I work for Avigilon :) ). Within the Avigilon product line you have the ability to go from motion detection to full-analytics (which can be used for motion-based recording, and/or analytics-based alerts and alarms). Device configuration is fully integrated into the UI, and the search UI also leverages this. I know that there are other options in some segments (eg: 2MP or 3MP cameras) where 3rd party cameras are cheaper on the camera side, but their VMD is going to be less reliable and easy to tune (IMO/IME). It's a "you get what you pay for" situation, you can save on cameras, and spend it on time and storage. And of course there are some form-factors where Avigilon may not produce a camera that meets the requirements, but these seem to be very small numbers in practical applications.

"If motion-detection is important, IMO you can't beat the granularity and flexibility of the AVO cameras (and I'm not saying that just because I work for Avigilon :) )."

This may well be true but if Avigilon believes this and drives customers to use their own cameras instead of VMD / analytics from 3rd parties, it does not help the 'openness rating', right?

There are integrations to other analytics products (Analytics category on this link).

And there is motion recording support for a wide number of other products, it's even called out in a separate column on the supported devices list.

But, to my original point, if motion record and search are *important* to you, I don't think you'll find a better net end-to-end option than using Avigilon cameras with the ACC software. I don't think this makes it "less open".

This was my perception too: while Milestone and ACC are both "integrating" some devices ( Milestone quite a lot) , the level of integration is not always the maximum one for all devices.

I would give a 9 to Milestone if most of the cameras in their integrated list were working with Edge recording, and there were a decent number of DVRs. And then there is openess towards other stuff: access first, some intrusion, other IP stuff which would easily be integrated.

PS I obviously don't have any hands-on experience with Avigilon, but as the comments above show, it is at least the symbol of a closed system if not a 100% true one, but this is not a bad thing at all.

"I would give a 9 to Milestone if most of the cameras in their integrated list were working with Edge recording, and there were a decent number of DVRs"

The only company that clearly supports more edge storage and DVRs is Genetec. So while I agree that what you are asking for is desirable, relative to the state of the market, Milestone is on the high end of support here.

How many third party camera edge storage or DVRs does Avigilon support? 0? 1? Handful?

I don't have direct experience with Avigilon, but I have a lot with closed/propriatary systems. As an end user of these products for many years, I just can't understand why a customer would want it (my guess is lack of industry knowledge). I don't mean to knock the product since I haven't used it, but the system type quite honestly drives me mad. End users end up with a handful of camera choices, small pool of other integration partners, and the biggest one to me, there is no competitive pricing/bids after the system is in place. If you are getting a bid on 20 additional cameras, the only possible significant difference in cost is going to be labor. It's a no-win situation for the customer in my mind.

For integrators, I guess I can see why you would sell it. It removes the costant research and need for continued knowledge of industry products because that's all been decided for you (not trying to offend anyone, I know we're all busy, I just couldn't think of a diplomatic way to state this). Other than that though, I think many of the popular systems out there can run circles around closed systems on just options alone.

As for ONVIF, my personal opinion is it's a "sales feature" or a way to circumvent the fact that there is no true integration. Through the cameras I have setup using this, I view it as a shallow solution to a much deeper issue. It's a good tool if you need it, but I don't think it should be the sole path solution.

We have taken over many "open" systems with Avigilon becuase the customer was tired of issues with 3rd party VMS/cameras. Avigilon does support alot of third party cameras via ONVIF and direct drivers but only supports on camera motion detection. IMO only having on camera motion is the main limitation for having consistency across the system with 3rd party camera. Avigilon's on camera motion detection is one of the best as it is very easy to configure and is very relible unlike other manufactures on camera detection which takes alot of tweeking to work reliably and sometimes never does. If Avigilon added server based motion intergration would be a non issue.

"Avigilon's on camera motion detection is one of the best as it is very easy to configure and is very relible unlike other manufactures on camera detection which takes alot of tweeking to work reliably and sometimes never does."

True or not, that does not make Avigilon open.

"We have taken over many "open" systems with Avigilon becuase the customer was tired of issues with 3rd party VMS/cameras."

True or not, this does not make Aviiglon open, just justifies why not being very open is ok or good.

All those statements are true FYI

Having taken over ONSSI, Milestone, Exacq and soon a Genetec system we have yet to find a camera we couldn't get working with ACC. Though like I said consitanty across the system is key.

"we have yet to find a camera we couldn't get working with ACC."

How about Sony SD card edge storage recording?

Dahua camera motion detection?

Axis Q6000-E multi-imager / PTZ combo?

Video analytic events from Bosch or Hikvision cameras?

Perhaps one wants to integrate Briefcam analytics with a camera?

Just because you have not found a camera, do not try to represent that there are not real limitations that rival VMSes do not have supporting 3rd parties.

If you are honest and try to look for limitations, I am sure you will find them.

You love putting words in my mouth. Alot of people think Avigilon only supports a couple of cameras and this is simply not true. Yes other VMS manufatures have deeper intergration with 3rd party cameras but that comes as a cost (price, time to implement and long term support).

We test a significant amout of cameras with Avigilon which I would put a large wager on is more then what IPVM tests with ACC.

How about Sony SD card edge storage recording? NO

Dahua camera motion detection? Not the last time I checked but I was told there was firmware to fix it

Axis Q6000-E multi-imager / PTZ combo? NO and havn't tested it.

Video analytic events from Bosch or Hikvision cameras? Yes we can make this work :)

Perhaps one wants to integrate Briefcam analytics with a camera? I have been told by Briefcam that they support Avigilon though I haven't had time to test it yet.

"Yes other VMS manufatures have deeper intergration with 3rd party cameras"

And that's the point. You can say it doesn't matter, but to many other people it does. Thanks for your feedback.

Honest question, what is defining "open" here?

There is a difference between "open" and "depth/breadth of 3rd party product support".

ACC is *very* open in that there is a robust SDK/API (yes, I know you don't like hearing that, but wait...) that almost anyone can leverage to add functional integrations to the platform. Camera support is *mostly* done via ONVIF. While not a perfect example, we also at the same time hear many people claim that the industry needs to do more to adhere to standards instead of custom 1-offs. Avigilon uses ONVIF heavily in their own cameras, though I'm sure some things (like pixel-motion) are not ONVIF yet.

I bring up the SDK, and really this is essentially the same version of "open" as Milestone (the primary example being used here). At VideoIQ when we wanted to integrate our edge storage, analytics alerts, and customizable meta-data overlays on video it became clear that "open" was kind of a misused term. There was no easy or direct path to get full support for these features in Milestone (or several other "open" VMS platforms).

If Milestone is so "open" (and I don't mean to pick on them specifically), then show me how you can implement your own custom video codec into Milestone easily. Show me how you can integrate your own edge-store API/format into Milestone easily. Show me how you can add customizable meta-data overlays to a video stream easily.

Open, for essentially all the VMS's on the market, tends to mean "we have some formats for you to interface to our primary functions. you most likely have to do all the work yourself, and sometimes get it certified, and then scheduled for release in a driver pack/update"

I don't think there is any VMS that is open to the extent any random hardware startup can create entirely new functionality or innovation and leverage it directly into the VMS.

"I bring up the SDK, and really this is essentially the same version of "open" as Milestone (the primary example being used here)."

It is not.

Milestone supports more in their SDK, e.g., plug-ins into their client (e.g., adding Briefcam directly into their client), deep access control integration, location metadata integration for Milestone Push, etc..

Please do not respond that these are not important. Of course, not everyone cares about this (this is why Hikvision sells boatloads of cameras and NVRs) but it is a differentiator when it comes to openness that matters to many larger, more sophisticated users.

"There is a difference between "open" and "depth/breadth of 3rd party product support"."

Yes and Milestone is better on the later as well, which for practical purposes is critical to what users want when they want open. "Open" in our industry does not simply mean can it be done theoretically but is it available out of the box without having to pay or negotiate with the vendor to add it in.

"Open" in our industry does not simply mean can it be done theoretically but is it available out of the box without having to pay or negotiate with the vendor to add it in.

I'm not sure that there is universal agreement on that.

As in my example above about trying to get edge-storage and meta-data overlays integrated into Milestone's "open" platform. It was by no means an easy or direct procedure.

I would also expect Milestone to have a more broad SDK than many other companies. They've been at it the longest, and being that they are/were trying to compete only on the VMS play, they had to support as much as possible to broaden their addressable market.

To my knowledge, everything Milestone supports, every feature and fuction in their SDK was the result of a gated decision by their product management team. EG: there is no way for an outside developer to add support for some new functionality without going through a Milestone approval process of sorts.

Use the IC Realtime 720 degree camera for example, could you add full support for that into Milestone using nothing but the SDK and release some sort of integration without having to go through a Milestone approval/release process?

Let's say there is a universal ideal of openness, which is auto / magical connection of any device to a VMS. Yes, Milestone does not do well on that absolute criteria.

But on a relative criteria, it does far better than Avigilon and most VMSes.

"They've been at it the longest, and being that they are/were trying to compete only on the VMS play."

There were many recorders already existing when Milestone started - Verint, Intellex, DM, NICE, just to name a few and out of all of them that did have some form of SDK, none of them have come close to Milestone in that.

"there is no way for an outside developer to add support for some new functionality without going through a Milestone approval process of sorts."

Disagree. For example, that is what the Smart Client plug-ins allow.

And Milestone and Genetec do not have the built-in conflict that a solution provider like Avigilon has.

And Milestone and Genetec do not have the built-in conflict that a solution provider like Avigilon has.

Fixed that for you

Thanks Mike. Milestone has no signs yet of any conflict with their partners.

Avigilon remains the industry leader in 'partner' conflict.

Wow, i am almost sorry i started this. I didn't mean to bash Avigilon and not even Milestone which are both nice mature products just going on different routers about the same issue. But it seems somehow the market (or the subset who are following this site at least ) is very much concerned about how Avigilon is and will do business if there are so many threads ending up discussing them.... I would have bet Milestone's future would be more of a concern as it should affect a lot more partners, resellers, owners, etc....

The main point is open equals how many or how deep you can integrate 3rd party cameras encoders or DVR/NVR? IMO if you have a project big enough the integration can be done with help from producers of VMS. In the long run the battle will be decided by the depth of integration with 3rd party and also by real working analytics ( camera side or VMS side)

Words hold a lot of meaning... Open, in my vision/scale means more than number of cameras+DVR integrated...i think i will take the risk and state : performance and innovation need openess. Thus, an 'open' VMS , in 2 years when some new technology will come to the industry will either be the first to support it or will say " ok, we are about to, check back in 3 months ". And that should be appreciated by partners and be successful on the market. But money not always work this way, at least short term. To name another manufacturer, ( though again i have nothing against them ! ), here it is : Mobotix. I would say they are 1/10 open and as strong as they were a few years back saying their way is the future....well, it is not.

Milestone has no choice but to be open since they generate no revenue from the sale of endpoint devices.

Avigilon and Mobotix are a good deal less dependent on working with other people's stuff, so they spend a good deal less on 3rd party integration.

Maybe Canon will change the Milestone model now, but as of yet I haven't seen anything to suggest that Axis and Milestone are any cozier than they were prior.

Instead of looking at what works now on those systems, why don't we look at how easily and quickly the vms companies will help integrate cameras that we know don't work into their respective vms if we are trying to win a job or have won a job

Eg taking over a 100 camera dahua/uniview site.

will avigilon put their engineers to work to get camera motion side working or will they say like they do right now, it's onvif and not our problem, go talk to the camera maker it their problem...

Will milestone release a device pack and make sure the cameras connect and record properly or will they do the same as avigilon?

I think this is where the openness score comes from

I have tested dahua and uniview on avigilon and motion doesn't work

I have tested uniview on milestone (latest device pack 8.1) and the camera connects but does not display in the client or record

"how easily and quickly the vms companies will help integrate cameras that we know don't work into their respective vms if we are trying to win a job or have won a job"

Ashley, good feedback.

I agree that's important. That is one of the elements where Avigilon has shown itself to be much riskier than Genetec or Milestone. Because, as the answers above show from Avigilon, the immediate reaction to integrating competitor's cameras is "Hey but Avigilon's image quality / resolution / VMD / analytics / features / cameras are better." Whether or not it is true or Avigilon really believes its true, for someone who wants an open platform and the maximum probability of getting a 3rd party device integrated, this is a negative.

It seems like a large majority of the discussion of a vms openess rating is based upon server side motion detection, I would be curious to know where integrators stand in regards to the survey that Ethan did in 2012 about motion detection location preference. The majority of integrators preffered camera side vmd I would be curious to see if that is still consistent or if most are now looking for vms side vmd support.

Keefe, good point. We'll put it in queue to do another survey on that.

As for camera vs server side VMD, part of the issue is that some VMSes do not offer server side VMD at all (e.g., Avigilon and Exacq) which makes camera side VMD support critical.

Also, of course, ONVIF's inability to make camera side VMD work out of the box :(

What you folks are calling "open" was the definition of "open" when Novell was big.

IT persective on OPEN:

More than one vendor does it and nobody thinks that's a big deal. Technically we used to look for "3 genetically separate implementations" for an IETF standard.

Standards publically available for free or for some price the marketplace finds reasonable.

Normal mainstream embraced-by-the-vendors use of multiple implementations that interoperate with no excitement all the time. So yeah you gotta troubleshoot onvif once in a while. You should have tools and processes for that, not some story about how your SDK has the foobar feature better implemented than the standard does it. If your foobar feature is of use then the standard should be able to facilitate using it or the standard's got gaps.

Nobody talks about how my DHCP client works better with a D-Link wireless ap's DHCP server than with a Netgear wireless ap's DHCP server.

SO if you can hang 3 random non-Avigilon OnVIF cameras off an Avigolon VMS then I'd call that "open". ("Random" meaning random known legit onvif-capable cameras from different engineering teams.)

SO if you can hang 3 random non-Avigilon OnVIF cameras off an Avigolon VMS then I'd call that "open". ("Random" meaning random known legit onvif-capable cameras from different engineering teams.)

So that's it? It's binary? True or False? Connect 3 random devices?

What about the dozens of other camera manufacturers, the numerous capabilities that ONVIF does not support or supports poorly? How about video analytics (as an example of that), access control integration, PSIM integration, intrusion / alarm system integration?