Subscriber Discussion

Most/Least Trustworthy VMS Vendors

When you read brochures (do people read those?), press releases, tweets, discussion group entries or even articles written by CEOs of companies etc. which companies do you believe to be the most and the least trust-worthy?

This is an interesting question, though relative to analytic and camera vendors, VMS ones are relatively low key and less hype - probably because it's more "meat and potatoes" than super megapixel or detecting suicide bombers.

3VR comes to mind for their Boston Bombing PR campaign, though that's obviously more on the analytics side than their VMS.

Over the years, OnSSI has been confusing with their obscuring of the Milestone relationship (improved now), the PSIM / PSIM Lite marketing, etc.

Milestone's distorted the IMS ranking for years, now Genetec has taken up that flag.

And Avigilon's spin is more on the camera side, though HDSM is clearly more spin than reality (especially for H.264 cameras, where it's multi-streaming like everyone else though not as good as some others in our test).

Of the larger, more prominent VMS companies, Exacq has been the most technically accurate in their marketing, so that certainly makes them trustworthy. That said, I think most VMS companies are fairly trustworthy.

In our practice we use primarily OnSSI, Milestone and Axis depending on the size and complexity of the system and application demands. All are solid VMS performers, particularly for their respective sweet spots but a potential client without a strong experience base to draw on is going to be impacted by marketing claims and published success stories. No one ever puts out an ad or brochure claiming "Our stuff works GREAT if you're lucky".

I'm mostly enterprise IT with an occasional side of basic needs IPcam. Other than the toy VMS which come with the Shenzhen onvif IPcams I buy, Milestone has been it for me. Maybe it's the Microsoft-centric world I live in professionally, but I find XProtect to be 100% Windows compliant, stable, solid. It runs on virtualized servers, with clients running across town on fiber WAN to achieve 2MP@15fps. Functionality is great, the UI makes sense, and the server runs strong like an NVR. It's been fun. No compliants. The only issues I've run into were license related, where changing cams would blow out my device limits. Those few emails to Milestone were answered with resolution within hours.

Confident enough with Milestone to buy 5-year device licenses.

Like David, I'd agree Milestone has a solid product.

My definition of trustworthy is: Does the manufacturer make claims that it can't support in reality and just as important when there are problems do they step up and take care of it (every manucaturer has problems). Higher number is better, I'd rate:

Avigilon 3

Milestone 10

Pelco 8

UTC/GE Security 7

What about VMS manufacturers that say they have a feature, but its really half baked at best. Would you consider those trustworthy if they told you that they have that feature?

Also, I'm curious as to how buggy a VMS may be and if its a turn off to someone else like it is to me.

Recommend you do your labs before committing. A reputable VMS will have trial versions for download and evaluation. It won't take long to determine your comfort level.

Since you're posting as undisclosed, please detail the VMS and the issues you had. I like to know what problems other installers had so we don't have to deal with them. If you're hinting that it was with Milestone I'd especially like to know those. For the record, I like and install Milestone but I'm not affiliated with them.

I was more interested in hearing your experiences; my questions were not directed towards Milestone specifically. Have you worked with some VMS manufacturers that had problems, half baked features, installation headaches, etc? and even if they say they'll fix them its a constant back and forth- shouldn't their QA find those issues? Aren't you concerned that while you're evaluating the software you are essentially a free tester?

I'm trying to gauge if my quality standards are too high and if buying decisions take into account overall quality or not.

As integrators quality of product has to be the first and foremost consideration if you're going to be profitable. Time spent on the phone with endless layers of tech support, a try-this-then-call-back response and preventable site return trips all impact negatively on already thin margins. A reliable product that delivers on expectations, is scalable, relatively easy to configure and stable over the long term will trump low price or proprietary products every time in our organization.

I hope that addresses your question on the roll of quality in buying decisions. We give equal votes to the Network/IT team, Installation team and Sales team on product decisions. Any of the three can impact the selection process.

Thanks Jack for the feedback.

least: the ones with the worst interoperability stance

second least: the ones with the worst security (TLS over TCP to the cameras, PLEASE, with reasonable credentials, not root...)

third least: the ones trying to sell appliances based on embedded Windows

Why would a VMS company be considered NOT TRUSTWORTHY because they sell an applicance using Windows Embedded? I do not see the correlation.

I am sure Rodney has an answer :)

The issue I have seen with appliances using embedded Windows is that they try to pass it off as secure as a truly embedded system.

I see.

Does Milestone or the others take over the camera and make changes to suite itself? We have a new very large Verint deployment and to our suprise the software has to have admin rights to the cameras (Axis) then it limits the streams to 3. This stops other applications like video intercoms from working (no available streams left for the intercom). Nothing in the sales data said that was going to happen.

Hi Bill,

It's generally best practices to not connect an IP camera to anything but a VMS (when a VMS is being used). This is because resource contention can cause problems (quality / fps degradation, etc.).

That said, I can't recall a VMS totally blocking 3rd party applications to a connected IP camera.


Which camera model from Axis are you using? Some of the M-Series only allow 3 streams, but the P and Q series allow 8 streams if I remember.

-Robert Ansell