Member Discussion

Selecting A VMS For Short Term Events?

I've found that most VMSs are focused on permanent installations, but what about multi-camera short-term deployments? When you have multi-site events (marathons, community events, etc) that you want to centrally monitor but each deployment is unique (in number of cameras, make/model cameras, number of monitoring locations, type(s) of data transport infrastructure), which VMSs excel in these dynamic deployments?

I am not sure why some VMSes would be better for short term events vs permanent installations.

Is there something specific that you do not like about the existing VMSes that you use for short term events?

Fundamentally its about the level of effort by higher skilled labored required for each deployment.

Here are some of the unique challenges for short term deployments:

When you use a camera then repurpose it's license repurposed to another camera for several events, there can be problems bring the first camera back online when you need it several events later. Licensing every cameras you own to operate with a VMS when you only use a dozen or 2 at a time can result in $10Ks in unneccessary additional annual costs.

Adding and removing cameras also create challenges accessing recordings. The recording is there, but it becomes a process requiring an administrator to restore the file before it can be reviewed.

Also, some of the VMS architectures become complicated when you have sites using VPNs and different IP space. For Milestone Corporate we had to edit a buried file assocated with the VMS to bring a location/camera online. That's not a huge issue when sites IPs stay the same, but when your transport IP addressing changing with each deployment, that adds additional layers of complexity.

I was thinking exactly about your issues.. but it is hard to recommend a VMS without being biased and John removing the post....

But I will try anyway, I will give you technical facts about Digifort and how it could be used in a very dynamic environment

First, the licensing, we know some VMSes requires a license attached per device, but with Digifort you are required a license per active camera and it is a floating license, so, if you have registered 100 cameras in a server but has only 10 activated, you only use 10 licenses, and you can just deactivate those 10 and activate another 10 cameras, the licenses will work because they are not linked to a specific hardware

When adding a camera you can specify the recording path for each camera, so if you remove a camera and add another camera into the same path, you will be able to access the old recordings. You can also playback manually recordings from a specific folder without too much hassle

As for IP addresses, it is easily changed in the camera register... just change the IP address and the system should be able to access the new cameras, easy and quick

I cannot comment on other VMSes structure, but I expect that many VMSes has the same flexibility as we have for what you are looking for, maybe John can do a better comparison as they have tested many VMSes...

Do you need Milestone Corporate for this? Is it part of a big surveillance system? Otherwise, it just seems like overkill.

In general, appliances are easier for this type of scenario because there's less licensing / configuration issues involved with them.

Thanks for the clarification / expansion, very helpful.

Big is questionable from a concurrent camera count standpoint - up to couple of dozen small event sites are online at 1 time, but less than 64 cameras.

I would agree that at the edge appliances work well for local viewing and recording, the challenge becomes federating the sites (somes a site may only have 1 camera) together into on common operating picture and centralizing recordings.

Synologies architecture seems interesting for these scenerios.

I would think Xprotect Go would work well for this. The cameras don't need a license, just keep it under 8. You license the software for free once a year. The drawbacks are the 5 days retention and the giant Milestone logo on exported video.

*after reading your second post, I see you already use Milestone and your sites are much more complicated than I originally thought they might be.

I'd recommend looking into "Edge" solutions. Exacq Edge is one option. Since the license is tied to the cameras MAC, and runs on the camera itself, moving cameras around shouldn't require wasted license expenditures. The cut sheet for Exacq Edge says it works with their "Enterprise" level software, which is supposed to allow for username management across multiple devices. Enterprise also has provisions for LDAP and Active Directory Integration. We haven't used it in your context so I'd recommend testing it first.

Your next best option would be any VMS that licenses to the server MAC and doesn't care what the camera MAC is. Exacq works this way (except for edge). Basically, if you buy 16 channels for a particular server, you can trade out cameras at will without needing additional license keys. You are going to be wasting some money on licensing if you take a server from a 16 camera site to a 2 camera site. But at least you won't be trying to keep specific cameras with specific servers.

My recollection of OnSSI's licensing scheme was that you needed to get a new key every time you added or swapped a camera. Licenses were tied both to the MAC of the server, and the MAC of the connected cameras. That seems like the worst possible licensing scheme for your setup.


That is certainly how it used to be with OnSSI (Ocularis), and camera licenses still need to be updated when replacing dead cameras (as the camera's MAC is indeed tied directly to the camera license).

However, since Ocularis 3.5 (4.0 is current version), recording servers in an Ocularis environment (except for our lowest level - PS) share the same SLC - which the camera's license is tied to (not the server MAC) - so swapping out cameras to different servers (with the same SLC) requires nothing extra be done.

In addition, the licensing process is now completely automated (if you have an internet connection on the recording server) - there is no need for our people to update anything manually anymore.

Now... with all that said, since A is already using the same recording component that Ocularis uses (except for the wolf head logo), I'm not sure that moving to Ocularis would solve any of his/her pain points.

Now... with all that said, since A is already using the same recording component that Ocularis uses (except for the wolf head logo), I'm not sure that moving to Ocularis would solve any of his/her pain points.

Marty that brings up a good point, (though this might not be the right place to discuss it), do ONSSI's ties to Milestone/Canon end up painting them with the same brush?

Specifically, ONSSI's driver packs, which are stable and extremely comprehensive and essential, do those .dll's come directly from Milestone or are they in-house? What would ONSSI's recourse be if Milestone dropped support for say Avigilon?

Answers to those all those things exist well above my pay-grade.

I have absolutely no idea.

Well to throw in my two bits here: my first suggestion from a usability standpoint would be 3xLogic Vigil... since I'm extremely familiar with it and I think it would fit all your criteria, including being easily configured by an on-site tech, and offering great central management with a fully-featured Windows client app that can show cameras from multiple sites all together, and the "RapidStream" feature would be handy if you're monitoring multiple sites over WAN.

It also doesn't tie specific cameras to a license, so if you bought, say, a 16-channel Hybrid system, you could plop that in any site and connect and combination of any brands of new or old IP and analog cameras, and be off to the races.

The downside is, it's not a cheap system. Not HORRENDOUSLY expensive either, but not cheap.

My other suggestion - and it may not be a popular one - would be Dahua-made (and sold under various other names outside China) DVRs, NVRs, or hybrids... again, extensive remote management, and viewing and playback of multiple sites using both main and sub-streams via the PSS client, direct configuration of both recorders and Dahua camera from PSS, which gives you the ability to connect to cameras directly from the same interface on small sites where you may only need one or two cameras and don't require a recorder.

If you use one of the NVRs with built-in PoE, cameras plugged into them will automatically grab an IP from the internal DHCP server (assuming the cameras are set for DHCP), and the system will find and add all Dahua and most ONVIF cameras with a couple of clicks - just click Search, click Select All, click Add, and you're done. Or drop the recorder on site, give it an internet connection (recorders support UPnP), plug in your cameras, give the WAN IP to the person on the remote site, and walk away - it can all be configured from PSS.

Best part is, it's a reliable yet extremely cost-effective setup and if something gets broken (being moved around to various environments, including outdoor), it won't cost a fortune to replace. And again, no per-camera license fees, and certain no tying of camera licenses to specific cameras.

Downside is, it's not the most user-friendly interface, with a lot of Engrish, BUT... once you're familiar with it, it's not bad to work with, and the configuration is pretty consistent across all the recorders and cameras.

I'm going to make my pitch short and sweet. From the sound of your application you need lightweight software that is quick and intuitive to install, configure, manage and utilize. The VMS software that was used this year to manage the temporary (30-50 camera) installs for festival surveillance systems for this year's Coachella Festival, Stagecoach Music Festival and the Isle of Wight Music festival in the UK was HD Witness.

The entire system is ~70MB to download and only takes about one minute to install. There are four free trial licenses to test out the recording and advanced features and it should work with pretty much any IP camera you connect it to. If it doesn't auto-discover them let us know and we'll take a look at why not.

I'd be happy to put you in touch with the owner of the group that does those festival surveillance and event intelligence video projects. Just let me know.

Hope you give it a try.

Nathan Wheeler
Network Optix

keeping a copy of your various events seems to be of importance. One suggestion is to find a VMS that is connection based and not MAC based, license the VMS for your largest channel need and use a imaging software to create an image of the disk. Then purchase a new disk for each festival/event, reimage the new disk, remove it after the event and repeat for each event. A disk or even two will only run you ~100.00 for a 1TB drive. Cheap all in all. my 2 cents...

Interesting idea. I wouldn't image the OS drive every time, just the video storage drive. (You do keep video and OS on separate drives I hope). Preferably put them in hot swap bays that you can by extra trays for, keep at the shop, and format before you send them out. Your field techs can then swap the drives easy. Offer the customer an option to purchase the drive, or just reformat and send it out on the next gig.

in this situation i would keep everything on the same drives and simply partition the logical disk array into system drive partition and data partition. that way I can remove/replace all drives and system settings with data and the DB together for integrity. Also it may be easier to replace all disks for each project and start fresh for each site.

How many days is short term? I ask because several VMS offer 30-60 day demos and as many as 99 channels.

In there a need to keep the data after the event?

Milestone/Onssi has 30 days for 8 channels (10 maybe?)

VideoInsight allows 60 days for 99 channels.