99 Cents to Configure an IP Camera

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 12, 2015

Just 99 cents?

Distributors have offered configuration services for many years but now one is practically giving it away for free.

Inside this note, we examine distributor ScanSource's new offer to configure Axis IP cameras for just 99 cents each, looking at its advantages and limitations.

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Comments (16)

I've never understood the need to have a third party configure an IP camera. It just seems like you would spend more time getting all the information together and getting it to the right person at Scansource than just doing it yourself. Maybe this makes sense for large jobs where the time spent to configure 100+ Cameras would exceed an hour. Do many people use this service?

Scott

For 99 cents per camera on a 60 camera job you do not see the value of this service? Let's just use an arbitrary time of 5 minutes per camera to configure the IP address. 5 minutes x 60 cameras= 300 minutes= 5 hours.

You're telling me you would not want to save 5 hours on a job for the cost of 59.40 + tax?

How long does it take to give an IP schema to a distributor to follow?

But are you *really* saving that time?

How often do you find that you have to tweak things like exposure/imager settings that are unique to the final field of view?

You're not using default passwords, right? So are you giving ScanSource user credentials for the cameras as well?

Do you easte any additional time having to make sure the right pre-configured camera goes to the right install location?

I've known of this ScanSource service for a while, and had recommended it to a few dealers when we used SS as a distributor. The general feedback I got was lukewarm. Similar to Scott's comment, people felt that the additional effort put in during the order phase to tell them what to pre-configure just didn't same enough time or money in the end to justify it. Of course, that was at the higher price, maybe pre-configuration for a dollar is more worthwhile, but I'm still not all that excited about this overall.

Five minutes to just put in the IP?!?!? It is really more like 10-15 seconds for AXIS cameras. Which is faster than I could relay the info to them. However, if they did a bunch of the other stuff we have to do programming wise this might be worth it. Otherwise not worth it at all.

"Let's just use an arbitrary time of 5 minutes per camera to configure the IP address."

Mike must be a terrible estimator.

That said, ScanSource is claiming to do more than simply configuring the IP address (labeling, firmware upgrade, bench test). Is that 5 minutes? More? Less? Depends on what is done and how it's set up.

As undisclosed A says, the price drop makes it more attractive.

It depends on the camera I suppose. Axis Cameras literally take 8 seconds to configure the IP using the Axis Camera management tool. But I can definitely see the value if configuration had to be done by logging into the Cameras Web interface. I imagine this is why Axis Cameras are $0.99 and the rest are $10.

This is a topic I feel strongly about, and this reply is long because of it.

I used services like these (not from ScanSource) in my past jobs and even at $10-15 they were worth it. If you're just looking to have them IP address a camera and nothing else changes in the process, it's likely not useful.

First, they're addressing out of box failures for you. You no longer have to worry about it. That alone is worth 99 cents. Unless the camera somehow fails between their offices and the job site, which is less likely.

These are what I consider the fundamental steps in a mid-to-large install.

  1. Integrator receives material at office.
  2. Tech unboxes and does initial config (IP address, firmware, time sync, base stream config maybe, even setting up a single motion zone with base settings).
  3. Camera and box are labeled.
  4. Tech reboxes, maybe throwing out trash, maybe not.
  5. Integrator delivers to site.
  6. Install.
  7. Final commissioning. Yes, at this step there will likely be changes to the base configs, but they should be minimal.

Unboxing alone takes at least a minute. Reboxing takes a minute. Labeling takes another minute. Throwing out the trash, breaking down cardboard takes maybe 5-10 minutes total for even a small project and on large projects can be a disposal nightmare.

You can't consider only the time it takes for each individual task here. Yes, IP addressing a camera only takes seconds. Yes, throwing a manual and packet of fasteners you don't need in the trash takes seconds. But there is downtime in between all of these things which adds up to what is likely 3-5 minutes per camera. It's the line item which falls under the vague "staging" category on estimates or might just be taken out of the even more vague "miscellaneous" category.

Also, in projects where the integrator is not doing the actual installation, these services are even more valuable. You never even have to see the cameras at your office, as they can be shipped to the site and clearly labeled, and installed by a sub or electrical contractor.

Coordination should not take much time. On projects of any size you're going to have a spreadsheet or something similar with the camera label, location, and IP address, anyway (I hope). On small projects you're probably just going to make them 192.168.1.X through 192.168.1.Y. Neither of those is particularly time consuming to send off to ScanSource.

I'm not saying these services are for everyone, but I can tell you from experience that there are valid reasons to use them if you're in the mid-to-large install business. And the more you work with the services department, the easier they are to coordinate. Even if it's a few dollars more per camera than the cost to have your staff do it, these are hours they could be doing other billable work.

I think integrators take a certain amount of pride in posting pictures of the huge amounts of boxes of cameras they just got shipped in and now have to install and configure, like that's the measure of success somehow. But I think you're truly successful when fewer boxes flow through your doors and you're maximizing your skilled labor to make you more money doing other billable things.

First, they're addressing out of box failures for you.

I meant to touch on this in my post above. Depending on common failure rates, this alone can make it worthwhile, however if the product really has no many OOB failures that you justify paying MORE for the product to get known-good items, there is a larger issue at hand.

The other tech-work items you describe make sense on the surface, my question however,(since this side of the argument is much more your strength than mine), is "can you trust their work"? Does the pre-setup work that ScanSource does really truly save you time and money, or will you end up having to sorta adapt your requirements and steps to their offerings? I honestly don't know, but when I've dealt with somewhat similar services in the past it usually came out to be a wash at best. They saved some steps, but created new ones.

One example being that you need to have all this pre-config data together BEFORE you place the order. I know most integrators don't order equipment very far in advance of the job install, but still with this scenario you need to have a few more things locked down before placing the PO. If your company does a lot of similar work (eg: mostly schools or mostly hospitals) and has very well-formed processes, then you can probably utilize services like this easier than the smaller guy who might not always have all that data together before placing the order.

I'm not saying this service has no value or no applicability, but I think that things like this haven't caught on in general because in the end the net total cost and time savings aren't great enough to justify adapting the ordering process and so forth.

IF they are doing what you describe above Ethan then 99 cents is a bargain and I would take them up on it. Especially if they are doing it for 99 cents AND I can get the camera from them for the same price I can now.

I am guessing that isn't the case, but I will be looking into it.

I've seen very few OOB failures in my time with IP cameras (I started when they had vidicon tubes!) however - we are situated offshore in Bermuda where import taxes are paid on every item at landing and returns are a nightmare. I'd pay for this in a heartbeat.

Hikvision has batch upgrade and configuration tools that save a lot of time. It's not on their site, so here it is: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0rjcuibx1ud08kb/Hikvision%20Tools_v1.2.1.1_140711.zip?dl=0

-Hikvision USA Sales Engineer

Thanks for the link.

My Hikvision rep looked at me like I was insane when I asked if Hikvision had anything like this.

:/

Do all of your technicians understand the IT side of the business or do they just know how to pull wires and mount? For a dollar, your cameras are have an ip in them and can have the isp hookup their router and do port forwards without ever having to go onsite.

I could see this being worth it they configure port forwarding, NTP, Static IP, software upgrades, user/password additions, storage card inserts and formatting, and testing. If they do all this I'm sold. Doubt they do. All it would take for me to lose confidence in them is one incorrect setup though.

What I like about this service is 1)it forces someone to think about the IP addressing scheme before going to the site to install. Maybe get them talking to IT. 2) I see all too often people who should know better having difficulties with changing their PCs IP address, configuring the camera IP from default, changing their PC back, etc.

For larger networks where an auto discover utility may not pass subnets/VLANs, this is also useful. Of course in a perfect world, they would be staged and configured before being hung and plugged in, but it just doesn't always happen...

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