Avigilon 5.0 Upgrade Plan and Costs Reviewed

By Sarit Williams, Published Jul 02, 2013, 12:00am EDT

One of Avigilon's key differentiators has been the lack of upgrade charges for new VMS versions. Unlike the controversial annual licenses that many of their competitors push, Avigilon rightfully emphasizes how they are free. Now, Avigilon's new VMS Version 5.0, first announced last fall at ASIS 2012, is available. However, unlike previous releases, most existing Avigilon customers will need to pay to upgrade to 5.0. In this note, we dig into the details and compare to Milestone, Genetec and Exacq approaches.

Upgrade Approach

A few important logistical points for upgrading users, as detailed in their FAQ:

  • While 5.0 is available now, it is not available for existing Avigilon 4.x users.
  • October 2013 is the target upgrade date for existing users.
  • All existing 3rd party integrations broke, so be careful when upgrading. "Third party integrations written for ACC 4 are not compatible with ACC 5.0." See our tutorial on APIs/SDKs on why integrations break.
  • You can technically upgrade some existing servers and leave others at 4, but it is not recommended. To upgrade just one, end users will require having both the 4.0 and 5.0 clients running concurrently. The 4.0 client cannot connect to a 5.0 server and vice versa.

Costs Eliminated and Versions Expanded

Upgrading to 5.0 eliminates some costs and increases camera count per version. Previously separate license for mobile, microphone recording and certain 3rd party access control integrations are now included. Additionally, the max number of cameras for the lower cost editions have been raised (Core goes from 16 to 24, while Standard increases from 24 to 48) plus 3 rules are added to Standard where it used to an Enterprise only capability.

ACC 4 licenses will continue to be available for sale, and the software will be supported by Avigilon technical support.

Upgrade Cost

According to Avigilon, all customers with version 4.0 purchased prior to September 10, 2012 will need to pay a per server fee (regardless of the number of channels per server) to take advantage of the upcoming 5.0 version. Those purchased after that date will be able to upgrade at no cost.

The MSRP pricing per server upgrade will differ depending on which edition is used:

  • Enterprise: $335 per server
  • Standard:  $185 per server
  • Core:         $95 per server

Given the charge is per server, it is independent of the number of the cameras each server runs (many others charge per individual camera). For instance, a core system with 10 cameras would effectively pay an upgrade cost of $9.50 per camera.

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Competitive Comparison

Many VMS manufacturers, like Milestone, Exacq or Genetec, charge 15-20% per year, every year for 'product maintenance' / software upgrades. These are not mandatory but typically if you do not pay you have to purchase new licenses to get upgrades, typically at some negotiated discount. Either way, over the course of a few years, those costs can be 50% or more of the initial purchase price.

By comparison, Avigilon's 5.0 upgrade cost is a fraction of that and not recurring.

Change In Position?

While Avigilon partners often emphasize that no VMS upgrade costs (e.g. [link no longer available], "Avigilon charges no software support fees and also doesn't charge for major new versions.") Avigilon itself in a statement from 2010 left the possibility for such upgrade charges, noting [link no longer available]:

"We do not charge annual maintenance fees for either NVR hardware or for software license only projects. To date we haven't charged for any software upgrades and continue to offer minor updates including performance enhancements and new features at no charge to existing customers."

Now, they are charging for upgrades, though it is significantly lower than their competitors and on a one off basis versus annual.

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