How To Evaluate/Select From 10 Vmses?

Hi all. It's been on my todo list for quite a while, but the time has finally come to upgrade our VMS from a Synology system that I'm very unhappy with. Between other responsibilities, I've demoed and read up on Exacq, Genetec, Avigilon and the rest, with Milestone currently sitting at the top due to the super easy to use web client.

Current deployment is spread across 6 buildings on 2 campuses, with 5 more buildings going up within the next 12 months. I believe we're at ~250 cameras at the moment, but that's going to shoot up to 400-500 shortly. I inherited a bunch of Vivoteks, and have recently started installing Hikvisions both internally and externally.

Reliability and performance will be the top 2 requirements, followed closely by ease of use (for operators and admins) and then finally feature set. I've ruled out Genetec since they couldn't work with our Vivoteks for some reason, and Avigilon for a general discomfort with recent news and the fact that I'd have to swap out existing cameras to really take advantage of it. Budget is not really a concern as long as it's not outrageous.

Now I'm looking at DW Spectrum and IPConfigure as contenders, too. I feel like every time I turn around, there's a new player, but no reasonable way that I can give them all real-world testing. Help!

Hi Jason,

I have done three similar projects to yours with both Milestone and Luxriot. DW Spectrum looks to be a very good contender as well (based on IPVM reviews and my own playing around with the software). Luxriot is releasing a new software on July 1st which will hopefully bring them into 2016 with the user interface and search functionality.

It's a matter of finding 3-4 hours to play around with each software package to see what works best for you. I found all three software packages I mentioned very easy to set up and use. All three seem to work with ONVIF cameras if the cameras themselves are not supported in the software.

Best of luck - sounds like a fun project.

Avigilon for a general discomfort with recent news

Did I miss something?

What Vivotek cameras do you have which Genetec doesn't support?

Some may disagree but I would recommend sticking with one or two camera manufactures at the most for systems like this. Managing firmware and compatibility can be large waste of time when you have a mix match of different camera manufacturers in an enterprise system.

I should have listed them in the opposite order as proprietary hardware is the bigger issue, but plummeting stock, retention time on execs, etc. is troublesome.

I believe the Vivoteks are IP7361 and FD8131 or something similar? Our integrator spent several months going back and forth with Genetec and Vivotek with custom firmwares galore, before eventually giving up.

I agree that sticking to a small number of manufacturers or models is beneficial, but when I can get the Hikvision models at half the price with twice the features, it's a no-brainer.

Those 7000 series Vivoteks still work?

I had like 1 in 3 or 4 fail after 2-3 years after install in every site I put them in.

Yeah, they're chugging along. I've had a couple go down, but overall these are still running great. It probably helps that we're in SC vs. ME or FL.

Understand your concern, and knowing what works with what up front does make sense. I am looking at entirely new systems that eventually can communicate to central location nationally, and Genetec seems to fit that bill, Salient may be a possible. I did find that Genetec and Avigilon don't mix, from the Genetec Rep., so it helps to know works together.

I do agree with previous comment on mixing types of cameras doesn't make sense, and then you want to add Hikvision to the mix. I will probably use a Hikvision camera on my personal home, because I don't care about it getting hacked, but I don't about putting them up in the environment your describing. Your adding a new camera manufacturer to the mix and one with known issues on security.

Have the manufacturer reps do a proof of concept for you using your camera type and their software. If they want to sell the product they will put in the time.


From your list of priorities, it sounds like DW Spectrum fits the bill. I don't know what set of abilities are essential, but DW is about as simple to use as could be, for the end user. Some have complained here that the admin side is more complicated, but I disagree with that. I think it's a case of us being so familiar with it that we don't see a reason to change it.

Performance wise, I think you will find that Spectrum does require more server resources than other VMSs due to the server side motion. But, this cost can be offset by the one time license buy vs annual/incremental fees. We have about 64 cameras per server as a maximum. If that fits your needs, give it a try. Scaling to more servers is simple, but only if you have the rack space, etc.

proprietary hardware is the bigger issue

I believe the Vivoteks are IP7361 and FD8131 or something similar? Our integrator spent several months going back and forth with Genetec and Vivotek with custom firmwares galore, before eventually giving up

Though it does look like the "open hardware" isn't working out so well for you right now since it looks like you are switching to another VMS to get "open" cameras to work. The whole "open vs proprietary" holds little weight IMO.

On the contrary, my "open" hardware is working very well; my VMS is the problem. I don't have the budget or desire to replace 200 working cameras, so this negates a good chunk of what Avigilon has to offer (maybe this is an inaccurate assessment).

I hoped that someone here may have had a similar scenario and could provide helpful info on any of the systems listed, systems not listed, or general tips on separating the wheat from the chaff. Head to heads between Milestone, IPConfigure, and DWSpectrum, where they excelled and fell short - that sort of thing.

Jason, thanks for the question. Sorry about Mike. Mike, stop commenting on this thread.

In terms of what to choose, I'd run through this list to better determine what to use:

  • How important is easy enterprise management of servers / cameras? I am guessing this is high given your expansion. DW Spectrum is far less expensive than Milestone Corporate and has some enterprise elements but Milestone Corporate has many advanced enterprise management features.
  • How many different third party cameras do you plan to support? You have a few older Vivoteks. Is that it? Milestone is relatively great about supporting random and older cameras. DW Spectrum has to get it from Network Optix and they are not close to being as deep.
  • Any 3rd party system integrations needed or planned? Access control? Intrusion? PoS? PSIM? Milestone is better here. But if you don't need any of that, lots more options to choose from
  • Video analytics needed / wanted?
  • Video Wall wanted? Video push from mobile phones?

As for Avigilon, they certainly work with other cameras but other cameras are second class citizens and rivals to Avigilon's own offerings. If you love their VMS' usability, it's worth strongly considering even with your non-Avigilon cameras. Otherwise, there are open alternatives more appropriate here.

Perfect. Thanks, John!

Enterprise management is probably just a nice-to-have, but I do have a mandate to provide a single pane of glass for all buildings.

Besides the Vivoteks, I have maybe half a dozen other cameras that I inherited from an old building, but I have no attachment to them and would just as soon replace them as try to force them to work on a new VMS.

Access control integration is the only item of interest, but again that's a nice-to-have. I'm of the mindset that I'd like both to perform well individually. If combining them results in a usability hit, I'd rather keep them separate. For the record, we're now using OpenOptions.

Negative on analytics. Aimetis had some cool features, but I found them overall extremely expensive and mostly gimmicky.

No video wall needed. Mobile access would be another nicety.

I have a Milestone POC that I'm only about ankle deep in, and waiting on an IPConfigure ESM demo. Am I missing anyone?

Jason, in that case, you get a single pane of glass / one UI for all cameras from lots of providers.

From what you describe, you may very well be fine with DW Spectrum, especially given its relatively low cost (compared to Avigilon, Genetec, Milestone, etc.).

Am I missing anyone?

There's lot of other VMSes so, depending on who you are talking to, sure :)

Exacq is a common choice but it's pros and cons are fairly similar to Milestone. As for IPConfigure, I thought they were concentrating on Orchid now, not ESM, so if you are going to consider IPConfigure, take a look at Orchid.

Hi Jason,

Please send me an email so I can ensure you get a demo of ESM and Orchid, our newest VMS, for your evaluation.



IPConfigure CEO


What is... a pirate's favorite letter?

"What is... a pirate's favorite letter?"

"That's correct for $100, choose again."

"I'll take 'things that rhyme with VMS' for $200, please..."

At this point, I think your best options are as follows:

1) Milestone (more expensive, but more features and compatibility)

2) DW Spectrum (low fixed cost, has enterprise features for user accounts, but lacks some other features found in other VMS, like access control integration, widespread analytics, etc.)

3) Avigilon ACC (medium costs, analytics integrated if using H4 cameras, some access integration if using their ACM, lacks deep support of third party cameras)

We recently moved to installing Spectrum. I spent a couple of years evaluating many different VMS's and had some experience with Avigilon and Video Insight.

Avigilon is a stable platform, no question about it. Video Insight is OK. My experience with Avigilon was limited to 5 small power plants.

We moved to Spectrum because it was incredibly easy to use, our first install was in a small campus environment with four buildings. I went to train the customer on the system, and he told me not to worry about it and sent me a check for the balance. He said it was so easy to use he did not think I should waste my time.

Here're a few things I like about Spectrum:

Video Export is awesome; it is easy to do. No training required. I love the server side motion detection; it is powerful indexing capabilities make playback/motion search a breeze. Camera setup is easy. Merging multiple servers into a single system is easy. This is important in a campus environment. Limiting what different users can see/do is easy across all servers. All in all, it is easy to use.

To answer your question, how to test systems. Most of the companies will give you a handful of demo licenses, try them out. See what you think. What's right for one company may not be right for you.

"I love the server side motion detection"

really? why?

The server indexes all motion detection events as they happen when you search through playback for motion events of a particular area of the camera's field of view the search results come back almost instantly. Makes playback very easy for the end user.

I like it so we can have homogeneous VMD across all brands and models. Also, DW Spectrum offers smart search for server side VMD. Huge bonus. Just need a little more server power, but that's cheap enough.


If you would like to discuss DW Spectrum or obtain additional evaluation licenses please let me know. I can be reached via


Patrick Kelly

In the past when we have faced this issue on behalf of a client, we have developed a matrix with all of the features and functions that we required in the system and then started to investigate the capabilities of the major VMS providers out there to determine who was and was not capable of meeting critical system requirements. The next level of investigation involved a cost analysis for transition and sustaining costs. Jason, I am happy to share one of those with you. Reach me at and I'll send one along.

From an integrators perspective, I suggest properly vetting and understanding the "tier II" VMS players "go to market strategy", sales channel and be very wary of questionable and "unethical" tactics. I recently had a very bad experience with IP Config. If you are considering using their product, please go into the opportunity with your eyes open and with extreme caution.