True Open Platform VMS Alternatives To Milestone

Now that Milestone is the open platform child of a camera company, many are looking for alternatives, both on the integrator side, who want a VMS that does not push them into using that company's cameras, and on the camera manufacturer side, so that they don't get screwed over.

So, we're putting together a list of 17.

Here are companies that are out: Milestone (Canon), Exacq (AD), VideoInsight (Advidia), Avigilon, Cisco, Bosch, DVTel, IndigoVision, March, Verint (all 'solution' companies).

HD Witness?

Only available in the Americas from Digital Watchdog who makes cameras as well.

I know it's sort of a stretch, but figured relevant if we weren't using geographical limits, and if we gave certain flexibility in relationship similar to Milestone (camera company) and OnSSI (not camera company). Just my thoughts.

You can buy OnSSI from OnSSI. You can only buy Network Optix's VMS in the Americas through DW, who makes cameras.

Hi John,

I recommend Digifort.

Digifort added. Promo text removed.

Never used them, what about Nuuo?

Smartvue too, while it isnt a robust system and IMO doesnt work well they could be considered a VMS.

Thanks John, Nuuo added. Yes, they are the biggest VMS from Taiwan.

Smartvue, added. They used to make cameras, but it looks like that's discontinued now.

I would be interested to know who the True Open Platform Camera alternatives are... Axis claims to be the cheerleader of that "CLUB" but in recent weeks (post Milestone acquisition) we have seen a big push on Axis Camera Station.

Regarding open platform cameras, it's an interesting and equally valid question, especially if you are a VMS developer :)

I can't think of a camera manufacturer without some form of VMS / NVR, though, in fairness, most are fairly limited / uncompetitive. I am not sure I'd take ACS unless they gave it away for free :)

Axis Network Video Fundamentals:

Course objectives: You will learn a wide variety of video surveillance basics, such as:

> Camera technology and setup

> Selecting the appropriate camera type and placement

> Ways to save bandwidth and storage

> Intelligent applications

Cost: $599

You Get:

Breakfast and Lunch both days

A FREE Axis Q-1604 Camera and 28 ACS licenses

That's interesting, A.

I think any more than 28 cameras on one ACS server will break it.

This have changed in recent versions, but just a few years ago you could have some real trouble if you loaded more than 20 cameras on a box.

If they are really giving you a $1,000 camera and $3,000+ worth of software licenses that's quite an incentive.

They do and it is the only reason I send two people everytime it is in Grand Rapids. We have yet to use any of the software though. We go just for the cameras.

"We have yet to use any of the software though."

Resell VMS Software Licenses To Another Customer?

Thats the trouble with software and IT hardware it changes fast in response. So dont hold your breath too long blaming a mfg for a problem 2 to three years ago. Everything has changes. Do the thought of quad core processors with 21 streams and onboard video compression and handling ring a bell. How many gig of RAM can you get?

You must define what is a "Open Plataform Camera"?

I think his point is about camera manufacturers preferring their own VMS.

Just like camera manufacturers are worried that companies like Avigilon and Exacq will flip it to their house camera brands, VMS developers are worried that camera companies will flip deals to their own internal VMS offerings.

Camera manufacturers prefer their own VMS because it ensures camera vendor lock-in while an Open/ONVIF based VMS does not.

John, over the last week or so, we've been experimenting with cameras from different manufacturers - Samsung; Hikvision; Vivotek; Dahua; Arencont; - as well as some budget cameras from Longse in China.

Using the VMS software that's available for each camera, as well as those from NUUO and Exacq, it's been quite a frustrating excercise. It goes without saying that camera manufacturers prefer to restrict the use of their VMS, but when the Hikvision software couldn't find the Hikvision cameras I thought that a bit too restrictive!

Next on the agenda is to see how well NUUO dvr cards, Exacq VMS, and a variety of analogue and IP cameras all play together - if at all!

I'm beginning to miss my old VHS recorder.......


For HikV to discover it's own cameras, you will need to install the full suite VMS, even if you don't plan to use the HikV VMS

NICE? Open???

NICE is about as open as the NSA's executive washroom.

NICE doesn't sell cameras and supports third party ones.

Yeah, but they also can't decide whether they want to be a VMS company or a PSIM company.


It's not only IP cameras that are a problem. How about encoders? NICE has their own encoders and, at least as I understand it, has limited support for other brands of encoders. In fact, I cannot find a list of supported devices anywhere on NICE's website, making me question exactly how "open" NiceVision really is.

As long as they don't deem those 3rd party cameras to be a threat to any other part of their business.

Why do you exclude Video Insight from your 'open' list? I have used the software for years, and have come across only a handful of instances where I could not bring a customer's existing camera online (and these were all long-discontinued and out-of-date models). Like other VMS platforms, these cameras require a license. While Advidia cams include a license built-in, that bundle doesn't negate VI's very, widely open approach. You can see a complete list of 2,500+ supported camera models here.

Michael, if the definition of a 'true' open platform is simply supporting lots of 3rd party cameras, then basically everyone counts.

The fact of the matter is VideoInsight promotes and bundles their own (OEMed) IP cameras.

The point isn't whether VideoInsight or Milestone/Canon is good or bad, it's whether they have conflicting interest of selling their own IP cameras.


I have a different take on "True Open VMS". This needs clarity on definition of "True Open VMS". This should essentially mean "Technology Neutral & Vendor Independent". The VMS should not be just limited to camera selection but it should be agnostic to operating system, database and browser interface etc. Most of the so called "True Open VMS" software platform supports only Microsoft technologies which defeats the purpose of "Openness".

Avinash, another undisclosed ad for your company. Do you guys not get it? Sigh.

If you want to suggest your company, just be up front and disclose your affiliation. And try not to do it in such an over the top way. Promotional part removed.

"The VMS should not be just limited to camera selection but it should be agnostic to operating system, database and browser interface etc."

I think that's splitting hairs. That'd be similar to saying a toaster isn't truly universal to bread because it only supports US NEMA 1-15 sockets and not all AC power sockets around the world.

Seriously folks. If I gave this thread to Bill gates or Steve Jobs they would be laughing till thier sides hurt. Give oracle a call some time and have this discussion with them and SAP.

"Give oracle a call some time and have this discussion with them and SAP."

Oracle and SAP are two of the most infamous companies for lock-in, super higher costs and complex projects. Not exactly something to aspire to or compare favorably.

Lenel? A few large end users in Michigan (including me) use OnGuard. It would not be my first choice, but you can use anyones cameras.

Ross, interesting suggestion. Does Lenel sell any cameras? I thought they did in the past.

Of course, Lenel has its own issues on the video side...

Lenel is part of UTC, who also owns Interlogix.

The old GE Stuff. They just hired a bunch of Bus dev people to handle just video.


As far as I know, Milestone is still an open platform or do I missed something? I don't understand this John...and I'm not a Milestone employee.


They are owned by a camera company now.

I assure you a month ago, Milestone would have scoffed at their competitor VMSes owned by camera companies claiming to be true open platforms. And now they are the same.

But it makes no sense to cut a business model that was 72M$ in 2013! I don't believe that it would happen or we are talking in long term...where nobody knows. Canon bought many companies in the past and they did not change their business model...nobody can tell what you are saying or the opposite.

It is unfortunate that none of us have a crystal ball to predict how this will turn out. I do think it is important to have a backup plan and that is a sound premise for this thread.

Maybe Canon will puchase Axis next! Wouldnt that be a interesting news day.

But it makes no sense to cut a business model that was 72M$ in 2013!

It makes perfect sense to change a business model that after 17 years and tens of millions of VC funding only did $72 million in 2013 revenue. This has already been covered / argued / debated in Winner and Losers of the Milestone Deal

Perhaps you are right...that is true from business point of view but do you really think that breaking this business model will permit them to grow faster ? On a close platform ? I don't think that's why I'm still sceptical on any change that Canon would do...

I'm still sceptical on any change that Canon would do...

On the other hand, regardless of whether or not Canon actually does anything to Milestone's business model or not, it sounds from what Glenn is saying that some customers are not waiting to see what Canon has in mind, and are looking for alternatives already. Because the potential of Canon to even do something down the road a year or two is enough for some to bail now. So since every thinks your a theif, you might as well be, no?

There are probably dozens of solutions out there. One that I used prior to Milestone (for home / residential) was NetcamWatcherPro

I haven't kept up with this publisher and I don't know if they are still actively publishing. I actually stumbled upon it when one of the crooks I was investigating used it to record his cameras ;) I used it for a while and it worked well.

Now that Milestone is the child of a camera company, many are looking for alternatives...

Ironically, since Milestone was itself the poster child of Open Platform VMS, the argument could be made that the value of being an "Open Platform VMS" now actually diminishes, not increases, with their exit. Why? Because their sell-out cash-out was unexpected by most, partly because of their stance and also because they were not in dire straits and could have conceivably raised money in the public market (as many believed they would). Thus the transaction underscores the impermanence, and therefore degrades the value, of the classification itself.

In a nutshell, if the purportedly idealistic Milestone will sell the crown jewels to the highest bidder when times are good (meaning profitable, cash-flow positive), who's next? And if that's the way the industry is going, then it might be time to get off your high horse and pick your pony instead...

Sure seems like a lot of Milestone bashing before the facts are known. We've been installing Milestone for over a year and love the product, especially since they squashed Avigilon's one advantage of 4 analog cameras for 1 license. Milestone is 16 analog cameras for 1 license. For those bashing Milestone before even 1 change has been made I'd say this is capitalism at its best, there was nothing stopping anyone from buying Milestone then or even now and doing it your way.

EJ, As a point of clarification, it's 1 license per IP address of an encoder. Many 16 channel encoders come with 4 IP addresses, that would require 4 licenses. There are some 16 channel encoders that only require a single IP address. I agree with you that it eliminates an Avigilon historic advantage.

As for bashing them, it would be imprudent for Milestone 'partners' not to properly assess and create backup plans given this situation.


I contacted Milestone for the two 16 channel encoders that we use and though they can physically accept more than 1 IP, they only charge 1 license.

I'm not sure how the breakout is done, but Milestone has a list that tells them then number of IPs for that model.

So it's up to the integrator if he wants to spend 1 license fee for 16 cameras, seems like he has at least 2 options and I'm sure more.

EJ, is that the Axis 16 channel model that comes with 4 Ethernet ports for load balancing but also lets you use just the one if desired?

Exar/Stretch and Bosch are the ones we use.

If you call Milestone sales they can give you the number of licenses for your model encoder, that's what I did. I expect they would even email you the list if you asked.

Hi John,

I think you left 1 VMS from USA, that is HD Witness, am I right?


Marcus, we discussed Network Optix / HD Witness at the beginning of the thread.

Yes, I overlooked it.

So... you are saying those VMS manufacturers that is not selling its own branded cameras are worthy to be on the list, because they consider to be practising Open Platform business model, where any kind of branded IP camera is intergrated and supported in their VMS software?

To be included on this list, a VMS company cannot sell its own cameras because:

  1. Selling one's own cameras motivates manufacturers to sell their cameras at the expense of their rivals.
  2. Having one's own cameras motivates manufacturers to prioritize support / integration for their cameras over their rivals.

One can certainly choose such manufacturers, and obviously many many do but, for this list, I am keeping it limited to manufacturers who do not make / sell their own cameras.

I recommend Synology

Synology Surveillance Station supports open platforms of all kind of branded cameras. There is no doubt about it.

But...if are talking about Synology Surveillance Station v6.3, can it consider as a True VMS? To me, SS v6.3 is a NVR, you need a PC dedicated for doing Live Viewing, doing play back, doing exporting video recording. Unless you are referring Synology VisualStation, then it is the whole package, meaning it does comes with its own video output, so that you can plug in a monitor directly to the back of VisualStation and used for doing live viewing, play back....etc...etc but the no. of cameras connected are limited, may be about 8 cameras max, comparing to SS v6.3 NVR can support over 10 cameras (64 cameras, as Synology claimed to support, but depending on Synology NAS/NVR hardware and of course your dedicated PC's hardware as well)

I spent the last 7 years managing the Milestone UK office before I was moved on. I had built up good relationships with hundreds of resellers who love the open platform discussion. Now I am out of the VMS space (In access control & IP Audio) and I am having to persuade resellers not to leave Milestone for their competition. I have had calls from Genetec saying that they are receiving up to 3 calls a week from my old resellers asking to see them. So much so that I had a meeting with Genetec at IFSEC the other week to discuss integrating our technology with them. I have had calls from numerous Milestone resellers saying that they are talking to Kentima who is supposedly an open platform VMS company in Sweden. I had never heard of them till now. Axis told me that they are going to treat Milestone as a Gold partner from now on as a result of the Canon buyout, which is the same as their relationship with Avigilon. This is a shame because it is the end of that special relationship. So I feel that there is a lot of nervousness in the market here now about Milestone and a great opportunity for competition.

For me - I want to get back into the VMS space - but have no idea now whether to go for a so called open platform VMS, or a single vendor solution that has an open protocol approach.

What Milestone has done is add concern and confusion into the marketplace and I guess in the next 6-12 months we will start to see if this will have an impact on the number of resellers who stay with them or start to jum to other VMS manufacturers.


Thanks for the feedback! I am hearing the same types of concerns and actions.

Good tip on Kentima. I had not heard of them before. They are literally 10 minutes away from Axis HQ, so that should help ;) We'll take a look at them and do a post.

Is open really an issue that goes beyond features, support, and perhaps other intangible? Isn't onvif supposed to cure those ills? Perhaps Open is another word for least common denominator. If the term OPEN is used in the sense of OPEN SOURCE, then the closest thing you have out there is that's been around a very long time. I haven't seen any reviews if this. Of course it's extremely difficult to criticize something that is free, as it makes one look extremely judgemental. Over ten years ago, ZM had both motion and alarm zones, something that most VMS still don't have to this day.

I've been having trouble with the 'open' definition & list and the connection to camera preference. I may be dating myself, but to me the definition of "open" is relative to "closed". Just like, in the early days of the PC, buying into Apple's iOS means you were stuck with their iOS ecosystem. If you went with the Win/Intel architecture, you could expand or customize a system with all sorts of other makers' components. (In our business, I believe the choice of server Operating System is moot - the discussion is really about which VMS application software is 'open' or 'closed' to which cameras, and vice versa)

One example of a 'closed' or 'locked' camera system would be DVTel, because their cameras only work with their software. If you install them, you're stuck with their VMS -- it's a one way street, however, because the DVTel VMS works with other cameras. As a customer grows their system, every DVTel camera tightens the handcuffs against leaving for another VMS. I've not used Mobotix, but understand that it is largely a two-way lock, with proprietary hardware and software requiring each other to form a system.

To me, Canon now owning Milestone may make that VMS more 'closed' over time if it grows to preferentially support Canon cameras, but they're still currently 'open' in the sense of interoperability. Their acquisition seems more a play to get Canon hardware into the surveillance business, either by offering bundled pricing with Milestone licenses or, as Glenn Fletcher suggests above, by opening up the specs and secrets that other camera-makers have shared with MS up until now. I wouldn't blame those brands if they choose to cinch their Kimonos a little tighter now that they know Milestone's parent will have visibility to their privates. Over time, Milestone's loss of market share will likely follow the decline of preferential 'market-leader' treatment by Axis and other camera makers. I expect this decline will be faster than any growth of revenue that Canon hopes to see in the surveillance hardware marketplace.

With complete disclosure is mind, let me first note that I am the VP of Strategic Alliances at Intelligent Security Systems (ISS). ISS is the headquartered in Woodbridge, NJ, and is currently one of the largest VMS and Video Analytics suppliers in the world. The last IMS reseacrch report I have available shows us as the number 1 VMS in South America, and amongst the top ten in the world.

We're currently ramping up our efforts and presence in North America considerably. Its a completly open platform, one of the strongest embracers of ONVIF, with thousands of cameras supported, a variety of access control systems and PSIMs, and third party servers and storage; we have always embraced the notion of being agnostic when it comes to all systems that make up a security eco-system. We have gone so far as to even make our VMS work with several manufacturer's NVRs.

Suranjan, I added ISS to the list. As you allude, to date, we have not seen a lot of promotion / efforts in the US.

Btw, what manufacturer NVRs do you integrate with?

John, thanks for adding us - our COO and I are laser focused on developing a greater presence here in North America. Its the very reason I joined the company. I guarantee you that you'll shortly see more efforts and success stories in North America by ISS.

Currently we integrate with Samgung and the Pelco Endura line of hybrid recorders. Keep in mind we have a generic RTSP driver, and so, we should realistically be able to connnect with other NVR solutions that support RTSP as well.

I haven't had time to review all the comments, but I noticed that DigiEver is not on the list. They are similar to NUUO. I'm testing the products now. Downloading their spreadsheet from the website, they have 2188 rows of approved devices. Seems like most major camera manufacturers are listed aside from Pelco...

They only have linux based appliance boxes, no windows based VMS software. Sorry, I'm not disclosing my name as I'm a rep and don't want my current manufacturer to know I'm testing this box as a potential replacement.

@Tom McFeely, there is one VMS manufacturer that I know of on the list that will allow you to take the RTSP URL of a camera manufacturer as an alternative when the camera driver is not available. There may be some limitations for example as far as PTZ controls but it will allow for live stream and recorded video capabilities. I posted this comment without disclosing my name but if John is comfortable sharing with you who I am, my guess is he knows and can share my contact with you.

Undisclosed E, lots of VMS manufacturers support connecting to IP cameras via RTSP streams. As you allude, though, you just get a stream with RTSP and cannot configure / control it in any way by RTSP. It's an integration means of last resort.

Of the "Outs" - how many support only their cameras and how many support other manufacturers? I.E. VideoInsight will work with a lot of manufacturers and the Advidia line is more of a "convenience" and potential to get opportunities that are budget sensitive?

Who of the "Outs" will only work with their own cameras?

I know this is a bit silly, y'all, but everytime I see this one, I have the same question

  1. Milestone is the child of Canon
  2. ONSSI is Milestone's step-brother

So in relation to Canon, what does that make ONSSI?

Screwed? :)

Rukmini, Ken LaMarca here. I am OnSSI's VP of Sales and Marketing and just wanted to clarify, OnSSI does not rely on Milestone at all in the new Ocularis 5.0 release. All software components are 100% owned by OnSSI.

what about Arteco?

The VMS / Camera market is so “whored out” that the manufactures have to find strategic ways to solidify growth for the next few years. Personally, I don’t see the overwhelming value add with a VMS that is considered open vs. the big players like Milestone. The solution based manufactures are going to have to support the new major name cameras to stay relevant in the market. Sure, they will certainly try and position / align themselves strategically with their camera partners to provide value outside of just being “open.” What I mean by this is that like Video Insight, there are license deals when packaged with their cameras. This is just a competitive advantage, not so much a product disadvantage. Another point do draw attention to is whether the specific VMS actually develops and manufactures their own cameras (like Avigilon) vs. a company like Video Insight that OEM’s cameras from Advidia. Why? First, they have no control over the development of new cameras and hardware features. Second, the cameras are not supported solely by VI and can be used in a multitude of other VMS’s (easy to change VMS’s).

"The solution based manufactures are going to have to support the new major name cameras to stay relevant in the market."

That significantly oversimplifies the risk to users. We regularly talk to super large end users and even they have problems with 'solution' manufacturers supporting third party cameras they want to have. There will be delays, sample cameras will be lost, calls will not be returned, etc. Manufacturers know they have power in these relationships and will implement tactics to diminish / delay / stop 3rd party cameras from being sold.

Although Dvtel offers cameras, their VMS is touted as being "open platform." They play well with others.

Same thing with Avigilon, Honeywell, Pelco, etc. Manufacturers that sell cameras and VMS try to argue that they are 'open platform' but, to most, that is not as strong an open platform as manufacturers who do not sell cameras.

Does anyone know what the max live display connections are on Milestone Professional? We have a customer that only has the ability to have 128 Live View connections...meaning if they have a system with 25 cameras only 5.12 users can watch all the cameras live.... is this a limitiation for Milestone?

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: What Is The Max Live Display Connections For Milestone?

Besides ipConfigure, which definitely does, do any of these VMSs have Linux OS versions?

If you're looking for Linux on the server side, Exacq, Netavis, and Wavestore support it. NUUO's Crystal (but not Mainconsole) does as well, but not sure if they've released that in software form yet.

For clients, Exacq again does. I don't know of others that do, aside from web clients, and for the purposes of this list we aren't counting them.

Missed this earlier; than you Ethan for the response.

Shouldn't "open" also mean making APIs publicly available and complete?

John I would say absolutely. IPConfigure Orchid VMS was built on this premise...

The level of Openness is important to acknowledge too.

Or you could take 'open' to mean making the source publicly available and complete.

From the perspective of integrators and partners, the most common request / need is for the VMS to not sell cameras / be in competition with them.

As for who makes APIs publicly and completely available, I bet the list in the industry is short. Yes, we could have a list like that but it would disqualify almost everyone.

I get that, but if open only means that the manufacturer doesn't also sell cameras, I'm wondering what the point of the label "open" really is.

Because companies that sell cameras and recorders, tend to favor their own products over competitors. This is often a practical problem for integrators who want to mix and match other products and for partner manufacturers who find themselves in competition with the company selling both (e.g., everyone and Avigilon, or Genetec, now that Canon owns Axis and Milestone).


Would you consider ranking these?

We generally stay away from rankings unless they are survey responses (the opinions of others) or the ranking is something quite specific and measure. We would not do "these are the 10 'best' open platform VMSes" as it's so broad and legitimately open to lots of debate.

That said, Brad, if you are looking for something specific (i.e., ranking the best VMSes at doing X, Y or Z) we could provide guidance.