Cisco Surveillance Problems - Case Study

By: 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 Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

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."

Related Reports on Bandwidth

Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
Top 2020 Trend - AI Analytics on Nov 22, 2019
170+ Integrators answered: What do you think will be the top industry trend in 2020? Why? For the 4th year in a row, AI/video analytics was...
Axis "Best Of The Best" 4K Camera Tested (Q1798-LE) on Nov 21, 2019
Axis has released their "best of the best" Q1798-LE bullet camera, touting "4K without compromise" with a large Micro 4/3" image sensor, custom...
Pelco Sarix Pro3 Camera Tested on Oct 16, 2019
Pelco has released their Sarix Professional Series 3 cameras, claiming "more security detail in challenging scenes with excellent low light and...
Last Chance - Register Now - October 2019 IP Networking Course on Oct 10, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - Fall 2019 IP Networking Course. The course starts next week. This is the only networking course designed...
'Bunker Busting' Wireless Access Startup: Sure-Fi Profile on Oct 03, 2019
An access startup is claiming its 'bunker busting' wireless Wiegand radios can punch through 'any obstruction'. We examine their offering,...
Vivotek 4K S-Series Camera Tested on Sep 30, 2019
Vivotek's highest-end S-series camera claims "Supreme Night Visibility", "Smart IR II", "Smart Stream II", "WDR Pro for unparalleled visibility in...
Dahua 4K Camera Shootout on Aug 20, 2019
Dahua's new Pro Series 4K N85CL5Z claims to "deliver superior images in all lighting and environmental conditions", but how does this compare to...
Proactive CCTV "Only Affordable Video Archiving Solution" Profile on Aug 12, 2019
Proactive CCTV is claiming to offer "the only affordable video archiving solution on the market", reducing the storage typically required for H.265...
Hikvision 4K Camera Shootout on Aug 02, 2019
With their latest Smart Series 5 cameras, Hikvision is claiming cameras "fully loaded" with "state-of-the-art technology for high performance and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
Anixter Resisting Takeover From Competitor on Dec 05, 2019
Mega distributor Anixter is going to be acquired but by whom? Initially, Anixter planned to go private, being bought by a private equity firm....
Security Sales Course 2020 - Last Chance Save $50 on Dec 05, 2019
This sales course is customized for the current needs and challenges specific to professionals selling video surveillance and access control...
Ireland National Children's Hospital Chooses Hikvision End-to-End With Facial Recognition on Dec 05, 2019
The world's most expensive hospital project ever, the New Children's Hospital in Ireland, has chosen an all-Hikvision surveillance system including...
AVTech ~$70 IP Cameras Tested Vs Dahua and Hikvision on Dec 04, 2019
Taiwanese manufacturer Avtech is taking direct aim at low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision with ~$70 starlight and white light illuminator...
Ultinous European Analytics Startup Company Profile on Dec 04, 2019
European analytics-startup Ultinous pitches customers to "Have your own video analysis service!" We spoke to Ultinous to better understand their...
Access Startup Multi-Mount Aims To Streamline Reader Installs on Dec 03, 2019
Startup Multi-Mount claims it makes installing access readers 'Fast', 'Secure,' and fit 'any size frame.' The company states its bracket 'fits most...
Resideo CEO To Step Down on Dec 03, 2019
Resideo's CEO, Mike Nefkins, is stepping down, just 18 months after being brought in to lead the now plagued spin-out. Inside this note, we...
Arcules CEO Retracts False GDPR Claim + Dahua and Milestone Claims Examined on Dec 03, 2019
Arcules CEO has retracted a false claim about his organization being a "fully compliant GDPR company" after IPVM reporting (Arcules CEO Threatens...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Dec 02, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...