Examining Cisco's Small Business Video SurveillanceBy John Honovich, Published on Jun 10, 2009
Cisco is making a major push into the small business market. As part of this, Cisco is increasing both their product offerings and marketing of video surveillance products.
Cisco's success (or lack thereof) in the enterprise video surveillance market is a topic of frequent discussion within the industry (see my recent analysis of their situation).
In parallel to this, Cisco is investing over $100 M USD into the small business market [link no longer available]. Video surveillance is one of their key areas.
The Cisco small business surveillance solution consists of 4 IP cameras [link no longer available], VMS software and a Storage Server [link no longer available].
How Will it Do?
Cisco's camera line-up currently consists of 4 products: 2 box cameras, a bubble camera, and a PTZ with only a 2.6 optical zoom. The PTZ and one of the box cameras supports PoE. The other two cameras support Wi-Fi.
There are no dome cameras. This will be a barrier for customers who care about aesthetics and/or discretion.
The PTZ's zoom is very limited. This will not suffice for anyone needing to cover more than a small area of 20 meter radius (sufficient for inside an office but not a parking lot).
The Video Management Software/Recorder
The video management software is fairly basic. It only supports Cisco small business cameras with 16 cameras maximum. The software does not currently support remote viewing (you can only view video local to the server where the VMS software is running).
The Cisco VMS features and UI are very similar to NUUO's IP video software (compare Cisco's admin manual to NUUO's user guide [link no longer available]). The UI for adding cameras and setting schedules are almost identical. [I have also been testing NUUO's software for the last month so I have hands-on experience with it. It also seems like the current Cisco version is only a fraction of the overall NUUO product offering.]
Video can be recorded to a PC or to a NAS device [link no longer available]. If you want to use the VMS software to search video, the camera feeds must first stream to the PC running the VMS software and then the video will be relayed to the NAS device.
The 3 fixed cameras may be bought via on-line stores for about $350 each. The PTZ is available for approximately $575 [click the 'buy now' buttons on the product comparison page [link no longer available] to check price specifics].
The VMS software is free for all 16 cameras it can support.
The NAS server is available online for about $600 (supports up to 4 drives, not included).
For a PoE switch, they offer the SD208p which costs about $115 online. It offers 8 total ports, 4 ports for PoE.
For 8 cameras including recording and storage, the total cost can be under $4,000.
Comparison to Alternatives
Pricing and basics are fairly similar to mainstream alternatives (e.g., most small business offerings provide free software (e.g., ACTi, D-Link, Vivotek). Axis is the major exception)
A couple of key deficiencies exist:
- Wider range of camera body options
- Ability to run their cameras on 3rd party software
- Remote viewing client
- Higher camera counts (Axis goes to 50, ACTi to 75, Vivotek to 32, etc.)