Upgrading A Genetec Campus Wide System?

Our facility in Southern California has roughly 70 cameras running on a Genetec system. Most of the cameras are original to the initial installation 6+ years ago, when MJPEG was state of the art compression. The cameras run on 10 servers; one VMS server and one archive server in each of our 5 buildings on the campus. The entire system is on an isolated LAN.

The servers are beginning to fail and, rather than spend the $250K to replace them, I'd like to tie the cameras and VMS into our server center in Phoenix. I'm planning to replace the majority of the cameras with Axis Zpstream or other smart codec cameras over the next few years to save bandwidth.

I'm wondering whether, during the transition, my Genetec VMS will be able to run on both the on-site servers for the MJPEG cameras and the Phoenix server for the smart codec cameras and allow us to view cameras from different servers on a single client.


If I understand you correctly, it should not be any problem. Most open platform VMSes are made to run on any (Windows based) COTS machine.

I am a little confused about why it would cost "$250K to replace" the existing servers. Even if you needed 10 servers, how would that add up to $250k? Also, if you are switching from MJPEG to a smart codec, the bandwidth savings are likely to be so large, you might want to consider sending video back to a central location and reducing servers used. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks for your response, John. I was afraid I may have muddled the explanation.

What you suggest is really our ultimate goal: reduce the bandwidth through smart codec sufficiently to send all video back to our server center in Phoenix. But, it's too costly to replace all 70 cameras at once, rather we'll do it over a period of a few years (at least). So, there will be a transition period of a few years while we change the cameras during which we'll have the MJPEG cameras recorded locally in Orange County and the new smart codec cameras recorded in Phoenix.

My question is whether this transitional two-location model will work with a single VMS.

The servers have gone up sharply in price over the past 5-6 years. The 5 pairs of servers (VMS and archive) totaled about $130K when we bought them, and estimates to replace them now are about $250K

Apropos of something or nothing, we'll be upgrading from Omnicast to Security Center in a few weeks. I'm not certain whether that has any bearing.

In general, I think it's a good idea to upgrade from Omnicast to Security Center. Either way, it should be hardware agnostic to what new servers you add but in terms of camera support and troubleshooting any issues, being current makes it simpler / lower risk.

I still do not understand why you need to pay that much for servers. I may just not appreciate the details but the typical Genetec / Milestone / Exacq system of that size should run on servers dramatically less expensive.

Related, I asked Genetec to reach out to help on the specific migration details. We are happy to help as well on more general / broader questions.

That's perfect. Thanks, John.

Hi David,

Thanks for your question. I am the video line Product Manager at Genetec. First, I agree with John that the pricing outlined for the server replacement are outside the norm. If you have a chance to speak with one of our channel partners or sales manager, I’d expect that they could find a more cost effective solution.
Regarding the design of the system, centralizing your recordings to a central location is certainly possible.

There are different strategies in our architecture to achieve this, which will depend on your own preference and factors, such as the location where video is monitored, whether there is multicast availability, and the bandwidth available between the sites.

Assuming storage costs are the main consideration for you to move your archives to Phoenix, you can achieve this using the Archiver Transfer capability in Security Center (v5.3+). The capability would allow you to maintain a similar architecture as you have today, while transferring recordings from the h.264 cameras to your servers in Phoenix.

If your goal is to transfer system components to Phoenix, you could begin to deploy a new system (Directory + Archiver), connect your new H.264 cameras, and use Federation capabilities that would allow you to connect to the sites in California and centralize monitoring activities. The recording location for new cameras can then progressively be switched over to the Phoenix location, as they are added.

This is just a brief look at available alternatives. There are likely other ways to optimize your current architecture that may help you save costs, as you upgrade your system. If you allow me, I can pass your contact information to one of our system engineers to get in touch with you.

Thibaut, thanks so much for your response. My understanding from your note is that what I've envisioned is possible with the Genetec system; however, there are other options that may work for me, as well. I'd certainly like to explore those options. Please do pass along my information (below) to your systems engineer. I'll look forward to speaking with him.


When you can get a Dell R530, load it with 4TB drives, throw on an OS and VMS for well under $10k, I have no idea how someone can justify a $250k server budget.

Granted, we don't sell Genetec, but I can't imagine needing 10 local servers, plus the remote farm. We sell DW Spectrum and this scenario would probably call for a max of 5 servers (one per building). Even that is quite overkill. You could likely do it with two, maybe three if redundancy is needed.

With Spectrum, you can distribute servers anywhere and they all tie into one system. You can have any given camera record to any given server by default. Spectrum also allows for automatic rollover on server failure.

I have no idea what other features you need from your VMS, so this may all be for naught.

Thanks for the feedback, Jon. The 10 servers have to meet specific specs established by our corporate IT organization, so there's not much wiggle room on them. Having said that, even at a much lower cost, say $100K, it's still a pretty pricey proposition that we can avoid by remoting out to the server center.

We use the 5 pairs of servers so that each of the 5 buildings can have its own. Should a server fail, it impacts only that building.

But this model has disadvantages, as well as having the entire system on an isolated network. So, I'm reconsidering.

As for using both local and remote servers, that's really just during the transition period so we can avoid sending MJPEG data to Phoenix.