Cisco Surveillance Problems - Case Study

Author: John Honovich, Published on Nov 14, 2011

An end user recently came to us with a detailed report about the challenges he is having with Cisco's video surveillance solution. His report, written in his own words, shares important challenges including lack of 3rd party support, limited functionalities and troubleshooting problems on the client side.

"First off I’d like to provide you with a short background on our current campus and Cisco VSM system. Our main campus covers a few hundred acres most of it was retro-fitted in stages with large open parking lots. We have several other satellite campuses around the area which also utilize Cisco’s VSM. We have about 100 cameras on the system now – the majority are Cisco 2500 series, 32 are analog cameras on Axis Q7406 encoders and the rest are a mix of Axis 216s and 209s. We have hundreds of analog cameras which we will eventually transition to IP. We have a fairly extensive system spread across several building in several different locations."

"Cisco entered the video surveillance market on the hopes they could easily sell their product to IT departments who heavily utilize Cisco products in their network infrastructure. Their marketing ploy is “It’s a Cisco product so it’s guaranteed to work on your network with no problems,” IT departments love to hear this so the sell is relatively easy. There is no need for IT to take the next step and ask about features of the system, compatible cameras, analytics, SDKs, etc. Cisco’s VSM is designed to be accessible and usable on any network infrastructure, they have optimized their product to take up as little bandwidth as possible. This works well if your video surveillance needs are simple and if your network infrastructure cannot handle excessive bandwidth. This is another major selling point to many IT departments as they do not want all of their bandwidth taken by several IP security cameras."

"We have been using Cisco’s VSM and Cisco’s cameras going on two years now, and to be honest as time passes I wish I was here when the decision was made to move forward with this product because I would not have recommended it. To make a very general statement Cisco’s VSM behind industry standards, below are some points I have noticed that are available in other VSMs but not Cisco."

  • Relevant analytics
  • Access to third party cameras is extremely limited
  • The ability to batch add camera feeds
  • Customization on archives is limited
  • GUI is a bit cumbersome
  • ONVIF compliance (not available until VSM 7.0 scheduled for released in March 2012)

"Cisco’s VSM does have a forensic search feature which became available in a spring update (6.3.0). This feature does work for us as it is much easier to comb through video, yet there is no event timeline which is something that has been available on DVRs for years."

"My biggest complaint with Cisco’s entry into the video surveillance industry is based around its cameras and camera compatibility. For all intensive purposes you can count the amount of cameras made by Cisco on one hand, in my opinion their cameras are a year behind the rest of the industry. There are only two Cisco cameras to my knowledge that support H.264, there is also a very disturbing lack of multi megapixel cameras available. Another drawback of Cisco’s cameras is their inability to accept third party applications. Now you can say, “this isn’t a big deal just go with another camera brand” well I would but the compatibility matrix is extremely limited. Most models on their compatibility list are discontinued products from third-party manufacturers. Currently Axis, the largest of the IP camera companies, only has 2-5 cameras officially compatible with Cisco’s VSM. To my knowledge Cisco’s list has not changed in ~1 year. No Cisco camera has the ability to support SDKs and they have zero analytics capabilities. Most large camera manufacturers have offered exterior domes that are fully PoE powered, at the time we purchased Cisco domes ~4 months ago that was not available and we were forced to pull more cable. Cisco’s VSM and its cameras are not OVIF compliant which is a major detractor, interoperability with products other than Cisco is almost non-existent."

"Lastly I would like to touch on their support process, TAC Request. If you are having an issue on the media server where the VSM and VSOM lives Cisco is very helpful. If you are having an issue on a client machine their response will be this, “You machine does not meet the baseline requirement,” and they will be very difficult to get any help from. Below is the baseline requirement for a client machine. Notice that minimum memory is 6GB and minimum CPU is an i7 – meaning the overwhelming majority of PCs are incompatible."

Workstation Attribute

Legacy Specification

Physical Security Client Workstation

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Operating System (OS)

Windows XP Professional 32-bit, SP3

Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate or Enterprise, 64-bit

CPU

Intel 950 i7 Core - 3.07 GHz

Intel Xeon quad-core – 2.53 GHz

Memory

6 GB DDR3

6 GB DDR3

Graphics

NVIDIA GeForce GTX260 896MB PCIe

NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800 1 GB PCIe

Browser

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 32-bit

Cisco VSOM configuration

VMR mode enabled

Network connection

Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) network connection required

Display configuration

Single monitor

"In conclusion I think Cisco has to completely revamp its development team and its development path to have any hope of coming close to competing with what is on the market right now. In my opinion Cisco is attempting to maintain an iron grip on its hardware and software (keep it as proprietary as possible). With the way technology has progressed in the past 15 years the thought of developing proprietary products in order to force end-users to continue purchasing products from one particular company is an antiquated school of thought."

This is very enlightening as it sheds a public light on the real challenges an end user faces. We are not surprised about the interoperability issues as we see this as part of Cisco's overall approach to the surveillance market. See our September 2011 report on Cisco's surveillance strategy.

We encourage end users to share their concerns and bad experiences as it can help your peers around the world to avoid problems and push manufacturers to rectify their shortcomings. You can share anonymously by emailing to info@ipvideomarket.info or using our contact form.


Related Reports on Bandwidth

Arecont Vision MicroDome Duo Tested on Feb 14, 2017
Arecont Vision is back with another multi-head camera, this time thinking smaller with the MicroDome Duo, a two-imager model, with the tagline...
LAST DAY - Camera Course Winter 2017 on Feb 02, 2017
[NOTE: Today, Thursday is the last day to register.] Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded...
Arecont Lowest Favorability Results on Jan 25, 2017
Given Arecont is 3 time defending integrator choice for worst camera manufacturer, it should be little surprise they had the lowest score in the...
IP Networking Course January 2017 on Jan 12, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Avigilon Pro 4K Camera Tested on Jan 03, 2017
Avigilon is best known for their large sensor, high megapixel cameras. But with new offerings from Sony and soon Axis, the questions is how well...
IP Networking 2017 Book Released on Jan 02, 2017
The new IP Networking Book 2017 is a 197 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security systems. The...
Hikvision No on H.265 But Pro On H.265+ on Jan 02, 2017
Hikvision said H.265 was a 'solution in search of a problem' a half year ago but now they are getting bullish, embracing H.265+. In this report,...
Surveillance Cameras 2017 Review on Jan 02, 2017
This report concisely explains the developments and most common options for surveillance cameras offered in 2017, including resolution, H.265, HD...
Calculating Video Surveillance Storage / Bandwidth on Dec 29, 2016
Calculating surveillance bandwidth is complex, and inexperienced users can easily underestimate bandwidth, leading to reduced storage durations...
IR Video Surveillance Tutorial 2017 on Dec 21, 2016
Almost all surveillance cameras perform worse in low light than they do in the day time. One of the most common techniques to overcome this is to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision Pyronix Releases 'Huge' New Panel on Feb 27, 2017
Hikvision's 2016 acquisition Pyronix has been touting their 'huge' new large system panel. Indeed, the new Euro 280 claims features that are better...
Bosch Favorability Results on Feb 27, 2017
Bosch is one of the most well known brands in the industry and they have combined recently with Sony in video surveillance. But how has Bosch...
ADT CEO: My Daughters Better At Installs Than Most 20 Year Techs on Feb 27, 2017
Times have changed. At the Barnes Buchanan conference, ADT's CEO Tim Whall made an interesting and, surely to some, controversial observation....
Avigilon Favorability Results on Feb 27, 2017
One of the fastest growing companies has turned into one of the rockiest, as cooling growth, management turnover and a roller coaster stock price...
Honeywell Sues Alarm.com For Violating Anti-Trust Laws on Feb 24, 2017
Is Alarm.com about to dominate the smart home software market? That is what Honeywell alleges in its new lawsuit, first reported by...
Axis: "Everything is IP" - False on Feb 24, 2017
Axis is congratulating itself, with executive Fredrick Nilsson declaring: "Now the conversion is all done and everything is IP and analog is...
Advertising Like Avigilon at the ISC West Airport on Feb 24, 2017
Avigilon has grabbed a lot of attention over the last few years advertising at the Las Vegas airport when attendees fly in. But how does that...
Artificial Intelligence Robot Assistant (ACTi) on Feb 23, 2017
Has artificial intelligence come to the video surveillance industry? ACTi has released 'SARA' which it bills as an 'AI assistant that brings...
Cutting Costs 70% Using Milestone With HD Analog on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog and enterprise VMSes are often thought of as being on opposite sides of the spectrum, with HD analog best for small jobs due to its low...
Dahua 4K HD Analog Cameras Announced on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog has been gaining popularity (even if Axis hopes otherwise). Last year, HD analog's max resolution doubled from 1080p to 4MP (see our 4MP...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact