Axis End-to-End Solutions are Here!

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 20, 2015

Sorry partners...

The new Canon subsidiary and Milestone sibling has changed their go-to-market approach.

In this note, we break down Axis' new focus on 'end-to-end solutions', how they are positioning it, its weaknesses and what this means for the overall industry.

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Comments (40)

Do you think this positioning was already in the works before the Canon offer? Since they already committed to the appliance strategy before this seems only a continuation of Axis' earlier inch-by-inch encroachment on the VMS space.

Yes, my belief is that this process was underway before Canon.

That said, I doubt Axis would shift so publicly and clearly in this direction now, without having Canon's agreement on the overall strategy.

As somebody who has been selling Axis equipment for 17 years, I would like to chime in here with a few thoughts:-

  1. By my reckoning this end-to-end story has been embedded in Axis's website in one form or another for the last 5 years
  2. The Axis Reps in our neck of the woods (Australia) never recommend or for that matter mention either their NVR's or the VMS offering(s)
  3. Axis Camera Station has always been more expensive than an equivalent configuration from Milestone (ie XProtect Professional)
  4. To the best of my knowledge, none of our in-country distributors stock their NVR's and obtaining pricing for the VMS components is never easy
  5. Just because it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... doesn't mean that Axis is perceived by the market as an end-to-end solution providor
  6. A quick call to Milestone, Genetech and Geutebruck tells me that none of them are concerned with the new website design.

Maybe its just a US thing?

I agree it's been embedded in the Axis website for years. The difference today is that it's the very first listing when you look at the products section. Previously, cameras were listed first, then encoders. NVRs were added when they released their S series recorders last year, but before then, audio and accessories were listed and only then did you get to their own VMS software.

Not saying that overnight Axis is going to become a proprietary end-to-end system and spurn their partners, but this is a fundamental change in their positioning, if only in marketing and not in practice.

If we all put our marketing hats on for a minute.....

Perhaps its just a big market play by Axis to address how much market they have lost in the US to Avigilon and their end-to-end pitch. If Axis was REALLY serious about it, they would signiciantly lower the price of their VMS components in order to attract attention.

Avigilon has been less successful in our market because their primary (only) pitch to a small group of integrators who have taken them on is that no matter what price they end up selling Avigilon product, they will always be guaranteed a good margin. Which unfortunately(?) translates locally to "if you are unable to add value as an integrator in this market then you should be selling Avigilon" and puts them in the same category as Cisco.

As an aside, I do find myself switching back to the Axis "classic" website more often than I should. The new site seems to take twice as many clicks to obtain the same information.

"By my reckoning this end-to-end story has been embedded in Axis's website in one form or another for the last 5 years"

As shown above, the end-to-end story is far more prominent in the new website than it was before. The images above show that. You can review http://classic.www.axis.com/ to compare the changes.

"The Axis Reps in our neck of the woods (Australia) never recommend or for that matter mention either their NVR's or the VMS offering(s)"

Sounds reasonable to me. If I was a rep and had my choice, I'd likely take a less 'solution' oriented approach than what the new Axis website is emphasizing.

"Axis Camera Station has always been more expensive than an equivalent configuration from Milestone (ie XProtect Professional)"

Agreed, still is and also less total features. That is one of things that makes even suggesting an end-to-end Axis solution weird.

"To the best of my knowledge, none of our in-country distributors stock their NVR's and obtaining pricing for the VMS components is never easy"

That could be an Australia thing. From the press release, "AXIS Camera Station S10 Recorder Series is expected to be available in the US, Canada in October and in EU countries in December 2014 through Axis’ distribution channels." You are not really missing out on much anyway.

"Just because it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... doesn't mean that Axis is perceived by the market as an end-to-end solution providor"

Agreed. They are not. Revamping their website to emphasize end-to-end solutions is clearly a way to try to change that, no?

"A quick call to Milestone, Genetech and Geutebruck tells me that none of them are concerned with the new website design."

Why would Milestone be concerned? Their part of the same company :) From the VMSes I've spoken to off the record, they have expressed more concerns about what this means for Axis recommending their own VMSes vs theirs.

Going back to your earlier point, it will not have a big impact unless the Axis field people are directed / required to push Axis VMS for 'Axis end-to-end solutions'. Let's see what Axis goes from here.

As usual John I find myself agreeing with most of what you are saying.

Here in Australia.... Milestone, Axis and Canon all have seperate locations, distribution arms and marketing philosphies. They barely (if ever) talk to each other and I have yet to see a situation where any of them have ACTIVELY partnered with each other to win a deal.

If there were ever a case to amalgamate all of them into one operating entity it would be Australia. We are a small but technically quite advanced market (compared to the US) and the costs of running three discrete business units in the same vertical market will (I have no doubt) be very hard for Canon to justify.

My bet is that Canon will trial an amalgamation of Milestone, Axis and Canon in Australia within the next 18 months.

I'm not following how you can call a system end-to-end when the critical controlling software component comes from another vendor. And not just one vendor mind you:

Because we work with so many expert companies, you are certain to find a high-quality video and security solution that meets your requirements.

So the more companies you need to find a solution the better?

IMO, AXIS new website functionality and info is exceptional for this industry, one example being: drop down menus on Breadcrumb navigation trail.

Website usability is an area that the low cost competitors are way behind AXIS.

It seems like the industry would be 'closed' again among manufactures since the major companies are selling end to end solutions.

Close (analog) to Open (IP, growth period) to Close (IP, maturity period) ? Very curious to know the comments from others.

It's all a pendulum. The industry got fat and stagnant at the end of the analog era, so when new technology came along, they were not able to move fast enough to capitalize. Small, nimble, tech forward groups sprouted up to fill the vacuum with new technology. The good ones were either purchased or grew into juggernauts. Now the industry will consolidate again, and start getting territorial, fat, and lazy.

15 years ago, we were sick of one size fits all end to end solutions. Five years ago, we started to get sick of maintaining 15 different manufacturer relationships and dealing with compatibility issues. In 2025, we'll all be looking for the newest startup with cool gear.

Clearly a move towards being slightly less open.

I'm curious what folks here think this strategy might mean for the future of ONVIF.

ONVIF would be a stripped down as far as features are concerned. I doubt that manufactures would spend much efforts on it which would slow down the development of ONVIF.

With or without this move, it's obvious from ONVIF's development over the last five years, that ONVIF is destined to provide a decent interface but never a comprehensive one nor entirely vetted / verified. With this move, that muddled approach is destined to continue.

I was hoping that ONVIF would become the only protocol that manufactures need to implement. (Forget about proprietory stuff)

I guess it would never happen.

I am not sure that will ever happen. Using the 80/20 rule roughly, ONVIF will (hopefully) give you the 80% most common uses (streaming, basic configuration, motion detection, etc.) but the 20% more advanced ones (panoramic dewarping, advanced camera controls, fast / tight PTZ integration, etc.) will require direct integration.

Your 80/20 comment is spot on.

While the industry trend toward more closed end-to-end systems is disturbing at first there are (hopefully) lessons to be learned from similar developments in networking.

Back in the early to mid 90's there were a number of network protocols that had significant market share_ TCP/IP, Banyan Vines, Novell's IPX, and IBM's SNA being the ones that come to mind. When the dust had settled in the late 90's TCP/IP was the clear winner because it was the only purely open protocol.

This being said, all the major network players today support TCP/IP but also have proprietary extensions that make a homogenous network with only their kit perform some functions "better" than a network based completely on open protocols. Cisco has them, Juniper has them, Alcatel-Lucent has them, etc.

However, all of these closed, homogenous networks will communicate with each other based on the open protocols they all have to support. The internet is a network of networks, where each local network can implement proprietary protocols internally but connect to the broader internet using the open protocols. "80%" of what people want to do will work over the internet but "20%" will only work well within the local networks (multicasting is a good example that has implications in video surveillance).

ONVIF continues to be the best option for the open protocol and while it may not be of value in a single closed "end-to-end" system, when you need to connect to multiple closed systems from different vendors, you need an open protocol.

Axis & Milestone is a combination tough to beat for large applications.

Yes/No Thoughts?

Yes, would be very powerful but Canon swears they bought both to not do just that.

For large applications, Axis has great offerings because they have so many niche / sophisticated devices to choose from. Plus, make the Milestone / Axis integration even tighter, include some advanced integrations no one else supports, throw in some cross-selling benefits (no Software Upgrade Plan costs or discounted XProtect licenses for Axis cameras, etc.) and that would be a very hard combination to beat even for a strong VMS like Genetec individually.

I take my hat off. Greate article! This symbolises end of European era in security market. Asia now controls almost everything.

there's an idea coming... what about Samsung being included on Axis-Milestone-Canon conglomerate?

I don't know, that would be triple camera redundancy.

What they most likely could benefit is buying an access control line.

That would be triple camera redundancy...

That would make as much sense as an established camera manufacturer going out and buying Lorex and DigiMerge but then selling Dahua...

Some reasons why a Techwin-Canon consolidation may be unlikely.

I've said this before, and everyone said "it will never happen". This is where it's all going, folks. There is no money in hardware. Expect all the major manufacturers to start doing this. I am aware of at least two other major players who are aggressively pursuing end to end solutions with all installation, integration, and support performed by in-house teams.

There is no money in hardware, yet

'Everyone' is giving away software, and now

Amazon is selling labor...

We see where 'it's all going to', Hal. In a handbasket. ;)

Often overlooked and easily undervalued is the sales/support infrastructure that AXIS provides.
AXIS website usability and content is simply the best in the industry. Compared to AXIS, the low cost Asian competitors have websites that are a dismal user experience.

AXIS marketing materials are outstanding and comprehensive, including spec sheets, videos, trainings, tools, etc.

Pre-sales and tech support is the best that I'm aware of, in this industry. I can almost always have a knowledgable sales or tech support person on the phone in less than 60 seconds.

Yes, I'm an AXIS fan, they charge more and they offer more. There's no shortage of successful businesses that are built on this model, like Apple, Nordstrom, etc.

"AXIS website usability and content is simply the best in the industry."

I think Axis has a good website but what is that worth in terms of pricing premium? Seriously? Does that justify $10, $20, $30 more per camera?

"AXIS marketing materials are outstanding and comprehensive, including spec sheets, videos, trainings, tools, etc."

Even so, every major manufacturer has spec sheets, tools, and other basic materials that are good enough for most.

"Pre-sales and tech support is the best that I'm aware of, in this industry."

I think that is the strongest of the 3 points you make (whether they are the 'best', they clearly are very good). Also, they tend to be strong in dealing with returns / warranty issues (e.g., Best Manufacturer Support 2014).

The big question with support then is how much better is Axis over its rivals and how much should you pay for that. Clearly, Dahua is struggling in this area, ergo Dahua Massive American Expansion but Hikvision already has a big sales / support team in place.

AXIS probably spent millions on their new website, and it shows. The amount of time that is saved by getting the best possible solution in the shortest time period is very valuable. The Asian companies don’t seem to recognize the value of investing in and providing state-of-the-art web and marketing tools.

Bare minimum marketing materials may be good enough for some, others prefer to deal with the most knowledgable and informative vendors. An example is AXIS product videos, these videos do an excellent job of selling. I’ve not seen anything of this quality from Hikvision or Dahua.

I’ve called HikVision and Dahua more than 10 times in the last year to inquire about specifics of a product. The quality of information that I’ve received from these 2 companies is low compared to what I've come to expect from AXIS.

As far as I can tell, the low priced guys only redeeming quality is low price. What you also get with low price is low levels of service, support, marketing materials, etc.

Jeff, I like Axis' website, the old one at least, haven't used the new one enough yet to know.

Sometimes though we tend to overlook flaws once we overcome them and become accustomed to 'what they really mean by x is y...".

As an example take their main product navigation menu items. (Which apparently have not changed with the new version.)

I'm sure you are quite adept at its use, but for a moment imagine you are new to Axis cameras and want to see what they have for a rugged HD 180 dome.

Let's see, it's a Fixed camera, so would it be there?

Hold on, its a Fixed Dome, so thats probably where it is.

Oh, but now I see Panoramic cameras, it must be there!

Wait a sec, I don't want SD, so HD & Megapixel cameras it is!

Or is it under Outdoor Cameras, I guess these others were indoor cameras?

I guess i'll just click thru ALL of them to make sure I'm not missing any!

Do you remember experiencing this confusion using the site? This is the type of thing you forget about once you get used to it.

Who needs to look at a manufactures website when you've got this. Better than any manufacture website

If you are not familiar with how their site and products are organized, try using their product selector (another best-of tool). Took me less than 30 seconds to locate the camera that meets your specs, M3027-PVE.

Took me less than 30 seconds to locate the camera that meets your spec...

Without trying to sound smug Jeff, that's the point; you know better. You wouldn't use the product drill down menu, but why shouldn't one be able to intuitively browse find product?

FWIW, I've been to the site many times and I still can't tell you exactly what types of cameras are in each category. Its not your fault I can't tell, of course. I'm only asking you because you wrote two glowing posts on the site, and even showed the bewildering browse categories in your picture as an example of the millions they have spent.

The Asian companies don’t seem to recognize the value of investing in and providing state-of-the-art web and marketing tools.

I agree. Dahua's search and product selection tool are much worse than Axis', for instance. And here's a tip in return for your tip, that is if you ever have searched for product on their site and come up empty, even though you know they have it:

Download the PDF of their latest catalog and do text searches on it. Its by no means a replacement for a good selector, but its much easier and reliable than anything else I've found yet. Do I wish they would fix the site searching altogether? Yes. But I don't think about it as much now...

Just looked at the the catalog you just posted.. Looks like Dahuas is releasing new products that Hikvision already has on the market.

What would you think the Hik x-refs for these three might be? I'm fine with Hik.

Update: Axis is now publicly confirming what we reported last year:

Axis Communications Becoming ‘Solutions-Oriented’ Company After String of Acquisitions

This was pretty obvious to see coming and as they buy partners and make their former other partners competitors, it becomes even more so.

Related:

Axis Acquires Video Analytics Firm Citilog and Axis Acquires Cognimatic Retail Analytics Developer

End-to-end sure. But what's in the middle?

ACS? Milestone?

ACS + S10 NVRs.

Also, they have opened up ACS to third party cameras since this article was originally opened, another move towards solutions.

Update: Axis working on more solution marketing:

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