Cisco Favorability Ratings - Positive In Networking, Negative In Surveillance

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Jan 06, 2017

Cisco is the big name in networking, but they have not been able to leverage their brand and sizable sales channel in the security industry to the same effect. Over the years the company has come and gone in terms of being highly active in the security market, with their most recent push in security being the very expensive Meraki camera.

Security integrators were split in the favorability ratings, with Cisco's strength in networking praised, but their expensiveness and their failures within video surveillance criticized.

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Comments (4)

I recently completed certification training on Cisco's VMS and in my view it's junk, anybody buying this over Genetec or Milestone is raving mad in my view.

Cisco make great network gear, always have. They are using their reputation to try to push into other markets, CCTV being one of these and as is the way they have some massive clients. They want to sell you their cameras, connected to their switches, with their software on their servers and they normally do this having already sold a complete IT and telephony infrastructure to the client.

It's the same pitch as Schneider/Siemens/Honeywell/JCI/Tyco trying to bundle power distribution, fire, BMS, structured cabling & security into a single package, big clients love it as they feel safe with a trusted brand when allot of the time they end up with a collection of mediocre systems, an empty promise on 'complete integration' and a very expensive long term lock-in service level agreement.

I'm not saying the big boys don't have some excellent solutions, they do but generally not all at the same time. Schneider own APC, a world leader in UPS systems, they also own Pelco a CCTV has been. Honeywell own loads of great fire products, some decent access control but horrific CCTV.

Maybe I'm missing something but if I was spending millions on a new building/campus/town/city I would want a team of professional people that can select the best products in each category in a way that protects my investment by not locking me into silly proprietary (or very restricted at best) systems that in the long cost more and are only ever just about adequate

Phil, thanks for the feedback. Do you recall any specific issues with Cisco's VMS? We have not looked at it in some time since market interest is overall very low (outside of Cisco pushing it for their house accounts).

From a feature point of view its about where Milestone and Genetec were circa 2008 and I really didn't like that its only supported on Cisco servers. If you buy their cameras they are free to add, if you use 3rd party cameras (the have limited support for Axis and Bosch and an early Onvif driver) you have to pay per channel license. They have some enterprise features in terms of scale-ability and decent fail-over options. When I looked at the numbers I found that on a 400 camera system I could do Axis or Sony with Genetec or Milestone for more or less the same price which for me is a far superior solution

I used to work for an integrator that was heavily invested in Cisco. Coming originally from an IT background I can say that their network equipment is great. Well designed, well built, and very reliable.

Cisco VSM, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I spent a LOT of time on the phone with Cisco TAC trying to resolve issues that should have been picked up during internal testing. While I haven't seen 7.9 in action, I have experience with every version from 6.3.2 to 7.8, and have found it to be a beta quality product at best. We had a customer that had issues with the Long Term Storage not working in VSM 7.5, which they required to work due to legal obligations. It took Cisco around 3 months to come up with a fix, which I recall was rolled into 7.5.1.

I also encountered lots of weird problems with cameras randomly dropping offline requiring a reboot or power cycle, server services going down (requiring either a Cisco service restart or server reboot), and motion detection not detecting motion. While working on another customer's system (an airport), I once saw a Boeing 737 pulling up right smack bang in front of the camera, and well and truly within the motion windows. It didn't pick up motion, and TAC couldn't understand why this was a problem.

I also saw a lot of problems with cameras failing, sometimes even out of the box. Given what Cisco charges for these cameras I find the failure rate that I experienced to be unacceptable. I especially RMA'd loads of CIVS-IPC-25xx/26xx cameras - I would usually find that the CCD would fail, causing either the colour to go all wonky, the image to flash, or the camera to just show no image.

I still use Cisco network equipment, and still find it to be fantastic, and consider Cisco to be one of the first companies I look towards for networking, but I cannot recommend Cisco VSM, or Cisco cameras.

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