ipConfigure's Video Management Offerings Examined

By: John Honovich, Published on Aug 13, 2009

Since announcing their selection as the US Post's Office choice for their next-generation video management system, interest in ipConfigure has increased significantly. Adding to that, this week ipConfigure announced major expansions to their platform with the introduction of:

  • NVR appliances [link no longer available]
  • [link no longer available]SMB software version [link no longer available] 
  • LPR/ANPR software [link no longer available]

The US Post Office project [link no longer available] drew particular interest because of the large size of the US Post Office's over-all system - 50,000 cameras and 32,000 locations.

Many industry people are now interested in understanding how ipConfigure compares to well-known brands in the market including Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI.

ipConfigure develops video management software. Their flagship product is their Enterprise Surveillance Manager [link no longer available] including the recently announced 5.0 version. As the name suggests, it is a multi-site, multi recording server solution that provide central management and video access. Unlike many products that require installation of thick clients for monitoring and administration, ipConfigure uses a web based interface.

Key differentiating features for their ESM software include:

  • Motion grooming - allows continuous recording for the first few days or weeks followed by a user set removal of non-motion video to reduce storage costs for long term storage (can reduce storage costs by 30 to 80% depending on configuration)
  • Active Directory integration - supports enterprise management of accounts
  • Integrated map views for navigation
  • Encrypted hashing of video to prove authenticity of recordings for submission of evidence to courts

Also see ipConfigure's list of features [link no longer available] and their camera compatability [link no longer available] which includes Axis, Canon, IQinVision, Lumenera, Mobotix, Panasonic and Sony.

Per channel MSRP pricing for ESM is $245 USD.

In addition to ESM are the product lines recently announced: (1) SMB software, (2) NVR appliances and (3) LPR.

The SMB version is based on the same software as the ESM but with a lower price ($124 USD per channel) and a restricted feature set (see datasheet for details and comparison [link no longer available]). Specifically, SMB is limited to 60 cameras on a single server and does not provide motion grooming.

The NVR appliances, called VSA [link no longer available], are 1RU appliances with Dual core 2.2 Ghz processors, 4GB of RAM, dual GB network ports and Windows Server 2003. The appliances are rated to handle up to 32 cameras using MJPEG, 4 CIF, 10 fps (though the system could handle more cameras at MPEG-4 or H.264). The MSRP of the 2TB unit is $1,900 USD while the 4TB unit is $2,400 USD. These prices are for the appliance itself. The software licenses are pre-loaded but they are purchased as a separate line item on the order.

The LPR software [link no longer available] is a new release. It uses COTS megapixel cameras. ipConfigure reports that it works up to 45 degree angle, recognizes common US and EU license plates and has been optimized for long distance analysis between 90 and 150 feet. Currently, the system has only been tested in daytime use. ipConfigure sells the LPR solution as kit, combining software licenses, megapixel camera and lens (MSRP between $3,450 and $3,725 USD).

Specifiers should be cautious in evaluating ipConfigure's LPR performance. Night time and harsh lighting conditions are key needs for many LPR applications. Furthermore, the claim of performance at 45 degrees is far greater than any existing LPR system (15 degree is the most generally cited number).

Strengths and Weaknesses

A number of elements stand our for ipConfigure:

  • Enterprise management features allow for large-scale deployments
  • Web client also helps large-scale deployments and simplicity of remote access
  • Motion grooming can significantly reduce cost especially for megapixel deployments
  • The NVR appliances are fairly inexpensive

At the same time, a number of commonly requested or required features from ipConfigure are limited or missing:
  • 3rd party camera support is limited. A number of widely used manufacturers are not supported.
  • The only Access control system ipConfigure integrates with is Synergistics and there are no PSIM integrations. This can be a major issue for larger corporate and government users who depend on their access control systems as the heart of their security operations.
  • The only video analytics ipConfigure supports is via:sys. Critical infrastructure deployments that requires analytics may find this problematic.
  • No PoS or ATM integration can be a deal-breaker for larger retailers and banks. ipConfigure reports that they are currently developing support for certain NCR and IBM PoS systems as part of a committed project.

Competitive Comparisons to Leading VMS Systems

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While ipConfigure matches the core features of companies like Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI, the main shortcoming is in 3rd party support. All of these VMS providers offer a large number of supported IP cameras, access control systems and video analytics.

Specific advantages of competitors include:

  • Genetec - redundancy for encoders and management servers plus sophisticated event management
  • Milestone - broad support for video analytics in their VCA 2.0 framework [link no longer available]
  • OnSSI - multi-PC virtual matrix support and touch screen interface (Ocularis client [link no longer available])

By contrast, ipConfigure's pricing is simpler and usually less expensive (sometimes significantly less than these companies once client licenses etc are included). Furthermore, ipConfigure's appliances are significantly less expensive than the Intransa series available for Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI ($1900 for ipConfigure 2TB vs $6300 for Intransa 2TB).

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