Recommendations For Health Monitor Software, Not Exacq

Hey there,

We're looking for some software that will monitor the health of 6 NVRs and 13 IP cameras connected to a LAN. Most likely the NVRs will be running Exacq on Windows 7, but we could use Ubuntu 10.04 or 12.04 instead if needed.

We had planned to use Exacq's ESM (Enterprise System Monitor) running on custom-build NVR hardware for this task, but the Exacq RSM is refusing to allow the sale of Enterprise VMS licenses because he "needs the hardware sale on this one" (referring to selling 6 Exacq LC series boxes).

If we can find a good free or paid alternative NVR/IP cam health monitoring software (and ultimately an alternative VMS after this project) then we can ditch Exacq Enterprise and use Pro. We don't need anything crazy fancy, just something that will monitor 19 IP devices and send an alert of some sort if a device is not responding to a ping for example. It's a requirement of the tender for this project.

If anyone has any advice it would be hugely appreciated.


but the Exacq RSM is refusing to allow the sale of Enterprise VMS licenses because he "needs the hardware sale on this one" (referring to selling 6 Exacq LC series boxes).

Wow. Is this the main barrier stopping you from using Exacq here?

Yes - we would use our own server with Exacq Enterprise VMS and use Exacq ESM for health monitoring if the RSM didn't want the hardware sale. He specifically told me they won't sell the Enterprises licenses if we don't give them the hardware. Frustrating.

He won't sell you Enterprise unless you buy the hardware? That's insane. I don't think the folks above him would like that too much.

That is interesting because I could probably sell it to you with no sale of hardware? Somehow that doesn't make sense. Just tell them that you'll find another VMS if that is the case.

A, B,

I've reached out to Tyco / Exacq management for a response. It would seem the straightforward answer is to just allow the sale as is, but we will see.

They would be crazy not to sell it since it is their big ticket item. The entire program itself it just a very simple web interface to boot. It's functional but nothing fancy about it for your money. Something is definitely fishy and that salesman is pulling a fast one to push the hardware sale. Not the smartest tactic since it was just exposed on this forum and like Ethan said I doubt this would be supported by his/her superiors. I'm sure there are many people here that can you a license with just the MAC of the system you want to install it on.

Once question does come to mind though. Why so many NVR's for so few cameras or am I missing something? You could easily run that many on a single PC.

Agreed, the salesman is being greedy, definitely not looking at the big picture. I realize they make more money on hardware sales than just licenses, but it's one thing to encourage a hardware sale and another to essentially blackmail us.

As for the high number of DVRs, it's a large spread out geographical area with cameras in a few keys places with only 1-2 cameras per NVR all linked together with a radio network.

The DVR/Cameras are only a small part of the cost of the overall job. There's a lot of other things to figure out, fighting with my Exacq rep is one I'd prefer to not have to do.

ESM and enterprise are typically used to meet our largest customers most complicated needs. In order to increase end-user satisfaction, we limit the installation of these products to our most experienced and trained dealers. If a non-certified integrator wants to buy the product, we prefer that they use our hardware to ensure the integrity of the ESM/enterprise installation. Ultimate goal is to have a solution that the end-user and our integrator partner can count on. -John Becker, Tyco Security Products - Video Portfolio

He specifically told me they won't sell the Enterprises licenses if we don't give them the hardware.

It's sounds like there are now two choices when it comes to the Exacq bundling program:

  1. Purchase our cameras and NVR's and we will let you have Exacq Pro!
  2. Purchase our NVR's only and we will let you buy Exacq Enterprise!

Hmmm....

That is not the case; no limitations on sales or requirements to buy our cameras. The dealer, in this case, is not a certified Exacq dealer. When an installation fails, we get the ire of the end-user. To mitigate this, we allow certified dealers to install ESM, but require non-certified dealers to purchase it along with the server. -John Becker, Sr. Director of Sales, Tyco Securiy Products - Video Solution

To mitigate this, we allow certified dealers to install ESM...

So integrator A needs only to find someone certified to run the install for them?

To ensure that the COTS server is configured correctly and to same degree as the Exacq NVR would have come from the factory, with ESM pre-installed?

Yes. We require somone with advanced training to ensure proper configuration of the COTS server. For this reason, the dealer needs to be certified or they need to sub it out to one of our certified integrators.

It sounds like SNMP monitoring may help. Without getting too simplistic here, maybe PRTG could handle this for you.

You are only looking for simple notifications (i.e. if a device stops responding to ping), and depending on what specific results you're looking for on the NVR's, PRTG might get you there.

The good part about this is that PRTG now allows up to 100 sensors free forever, well within your 19 IP devices (essentially each device could have 5 sensors on it, plus a few extra).

Only a single sensor (a ping sensor) would be 'needed' on the IP cameras, while the NVR's can have additional sensors tied to it (such as CPU health, disk usage, etc.). You could possibly even benefit further from the additional sensors by monitoring your switches (throughput, etc.).

PRTG is not the only free solution, but it's one I've used lightly in the past. Others such as Spiceworks and SolarWinds have solutions also (either free trials or outright free software).

Here are some links to them in case you're interested in looking into them further:

Thanks, this is a huge help. I'll check out those links and report back with what worked the best!

Matt's got good suggestions. So, not to take anything away from his suggestions..

My experience with SNMP management tools is that they can be quite tedious and 'techie' with many features and potential that is frustratingly difficult to manage.

One catch-22 with network monitoring is who monitors the monitor? Often more complex tools are so brittle themselves that you don't know they're not working until your stuff fails and you then find out that your monitoring tools have been broken for who knows how long.

So the rule of thumb is--the best monitoring is the simpliest monitoring that you can understand well and thus trust.

There's really three degrees of what you can monitor in this case:

1. Are the devices accessible on the network and appear alive? (A simple ICMP ping does this)

2. Same as number 1 but gather more information about the devices' status/health/functionality (SNMP is designed for this)--but the SNMP tools tend to be more complex and in some regard the device needs to facilitate that status information or it's of limited utility.

3. Same as number 1 but is the camera's video actually being streamed/recorded? This is probably something you're only going to get from your VMS.

Unfortunately, simplicity/reliablity and utility are basically in conflict or at least trade-offs here.

Related:

Network Monitoring / SNMP for Video Surveillance Guide

I should have added this earlier.

ESM and enterprise are typically used to meet our largest customers most complicated needs. In order to increase end-user satisfaction, we limit the installation of these products to our most experienced and trained dealers. If a non-certified integrator wants to buy the product, we prefer that they use our hardware to ensure the integrity of the ESM/enterprise installation. Ultimate goal is to have a solution that the end-user and our integrator partner can count on. -John Becker, Tyco Security Products - Video Portfolio

Nice spin.

There is no spin. There are other, certified integrators bidding on this particular project and they are free to use our hardware or their own COTS solution. There are benefits to investing in advanced certification with Exacq and this is one of those benefits.

The frustrating thing is being held hostage because of the desire to sell hardware. The benefit to being Exacq certified is what, 75% less blackmail?

Also, when we inquired about getting certified (vs. authorized) the rep told us due to the high number of systems we have installed that there is no point. Turns out not to be the case.

A, if you are already selling a lot of Exacq, what is the downside of getting certified? You probably already meet most or all of the requirements, no?

I'm sure there is no downside - I inquired with the Exacq rep about the upside and he basically said there isn't one.

Well, now evidently there is an upside :)

Putting the Exacq EHM completely aside I would recommend a device made by a company called ihiji. You simply plug it into the network and it will find all the devices on it. You can monitor IP cameras, switches, routers, etc. and can setup notifications to be sent if any device stops responding. It is pretty unique. You can see the health of all devices via a web portal. If I remember correctly you can even log into the local webservers of the cameras and such via a cloud-based portal with no port forwarding or anything required.

It's worth looking into and it is much simpler than configuring some of the other ones like Spiceworks and the rest. There is a charge for the device and a monthly but it is way cheaper using the EHM and it will monitor more besides the server and cameras. Also, you get web access via their portal to all of your devices so it actually does more if you want on the monitoring side.

Well, it's not an ad-hoc requirement, it's listed clearly on the website...

The good news is that I expect that the 'within the first 90 days' statement is evidence of a good-faith fast-tracking of the certification process. Do a little extra paperwork, promise to go to training soon, and you could be good to go.

I'm a PM at Aimetis and perhaps our Enterprise Manager product could be interesting. More info is here: http://www.aimetis.com/EnterpriseManager/

It provides health monitoring in addition to automated software updates, etc.