Axis Camera Station (ACS) is Axis' traditional server based VMS, very roughly equivalent to Milestone, Genetec, Exacq, etc. However, ACS's competitive position compared to any independent VMS is quite poor.
The VMS itself is solid (see our old test) but the relative pricing and feature sets are not.
Typically, camera manufacturer VMS software that only supports cameras from that manufacturer (like ACS) are given away for free. However, ACS costs ~$150 per channel for 4 or ~$100 per channel for 10 or more. This has been fairly constant for years.
Until 2010, when entry level VMS pricing plunged, ~$100 per channel was not bad for VMS software. Open rivals started at $125 to $150. So getting ACS did come with a modest comparable discount. Now, most open VMSes have entry pricing far lower than $100 per channel and there are even quite a number of free options.
So for small systems, where price counts a lot, ACS is notably more expensive.
ACS is limited by design not to compete with Axis VMS partners. So no 3rd party IP camera support, no 3rd party access control, limit of 100 cameras, no enterprise management of multiple servers, etc.
So for large systems, where enterprise features are critical, ACS is not a realistic choice.
End to End Solution?
While there are many that like an end to end solution, Axis cameras are so widely supported and such a priority for third party VMSes who offer lower licensing costs, more features and broader camera support, that it's hard to imagine why one would need to stick with ACS.