Genetec Cloud Tested 2015By Ethan Ace, Published Aug 12, 2015, 12:00am EDT (Research)
Not since Axis public and prolonged agony with AVHS, has a major manufacturer bet as heavily as Genetec is now doing on the cloud.
Genetec started with Stratocast, which took a similar small camera count approach as Axis AVHS, with similar poor adoption (their most famous customer here).
Genetec is not giving up. Indeed, they are taking an aggressive 'cloud first' strategy more deeply integrating cloud services with its flagship Security Center platform adding Cloud Archiving, Cloud Cameras, and AutoVu Plate Reader Cloud in the past year as well as offering free camera channels and storage to attract users.
In this report, we test:
- Stratocast - the stand-alone small camera count cloud offering
- Cloud Cameras - federating Stratocast into Security Center
- Cloud Archiving - extended cloud archiving for Security Center
- Cloud LPR - processing LPR in the cloud, integrated within Security Center
Though Stratocast 'standalone' has weak competitive positioning, the integration of cloud services, like adding on cloud cameras, archiving and LPR to their VMS / PSIM is valuable and uncommon. We believe the later will help differentiate Genetec for some large scale users that can take advantage of these services to enhance their systems.
This chart summarizes our key findings for each of Genetec's cloud features, with more detail below:
Stratocast has significant limitations compared to Security Center and other full blown VMSes:
- Only Axis cameras are supported, no other manufacturers.
- Playback, search, and export is limited to a single camera with no multi-camera options.
- Requires serial number and OAK for setup, which may be (and often are) lost during installation, requiring tech support calls.
- No integrations to other systems such as access control, intrusion, etc.
Effectively, Stratocast offers a featureset similar to Axis Camera Companion 3, though with more complex setup, and a minimum MSRP of ~$6/camera (vs. free).
Security Center Cloud Cameras (Stratocast Federation)
Federating Stratocast cameras to Security Center effectively eliminates most of the limitations discussed above.
Cameras are added quickly and easily, simply entering server, user, and password, with Cloud Cameras operating similar to on-site cameras, with a slight increase in load time (~1-2 seconds) on live viewing and playback.
Cloud Archives integrated almost seamlessly with on-site video archives, with the lack of thumbnails and slight increase in load time the only noticeable difference. However, users should beware of upload bandwidth speeds when using Cloud Archives, as there is no means to throttle their speed and it may choke user's internet connection.
AutoVu Plate Reader Cloud
Finally, Plate Reader Cloud integrated simply with Security Center via add-on plugin, reading plates with very little setup required, with read events processed and delivered in ~1-2 seconds, only about a second more than Genetec's high end AutoVu Sharp camera.
However, the short list of compatible cameras (limited to <10 models from Axis, Panasonic, and Sony) and low vehicle speed (<15 mph specified) may be issues for some users.
MSRP of these services is as follows:
- Stratocast: MSRP ranges from $6/mo (edge storage only) to $18/mo (1080p HD, 14 days storage) per camera, depending on plan [link no longer available].
- Cloud Cameras: Stratocast cameras may be Federated at no additional charge, but Security Center Enterprise is required (or a subscription to Federation as a Service).
- Cloud Archives: The MSRP of cloud archives is $50/mo per TB, i.e., 5TB = $250/mo MSRP.
- Plate Reader Cloud: $50/mo per camera
Free Licenses with SMAs
Note that all Genetec users with a valid SMA have access to some free cloud cameras and archives. Those looking for more details should see Genetec Adds Free Cloud Cameras / Storage.
Genetec's Stratocast cloud platform uses two different interfaces:
- The end user interface is used for operation of the system, including live and archived video viewing, export, and basic user management/permissions.
- The integrator interface is used for adding and configuration cameras and local storage, recording plans, Security Center Federation setup, and health monitoring.
We review the basics of both of these interfaces below:
The "View" section of the end user interface (represented by the camera icon) is used for live and archived viewing and basic search. Note that the "Investigate" tab, represented by the magnifying glass icon contains a list of bookmarks, not search functions, counter to most user VMS UI's.
Notably, there is no multi-camera search or export. Switching a camera to playback mode in a multi-camera view switches the user to a single camera screen. Users must search and export each camera individually, which may be tedious if multiple cameras are involved in an incident.
We review these functions in this video:
Cameras must be added in the integrator interface of Stratocast, and require installers to enter the serial number and OAK (owner authentication key) of each camera. Once added, Stratocast sets up the connection, a process that takes 2-3 minutes per camera, then users select a recording plan, resolution, and name the camera.
There is no way to add multiple cameras at once or search the local network for cameras to be added, so multiple-camera projects may be a time-consuming process.
This process is shown in this video:
Note that the serial number is the MAC address of the camera and may be easily retrieved via a sticker on the camera itself or in its web interface. However, the OAK is only included in the paper documentation included with each camera and may be easily lost or thrown out during installation. Users may contact Axis or Stratocast support to retrieve the OAK for these cameras.
Cloud Cameras/Stratocast Federation
Stratocast cameras may be Federated to Genetec Security Center by simply creating a Federation user and entering the automatically generated server name, user, and password.
Cloud cameras appear no different than local cameras, with a slight increase in load time (3-4 seconds vs. 1-2) the only visible difference. Cloud camera video may be kept in Stratocast or archived locally using SC's Auxiliary Archiver role.
In this video we walk users through creating the Stratocast Federation and viewing cloud camera video:
Cloud Archives requires a small plugin on the Security Center server and uses its own Config Tool separate from the main SC application. Using this config tool, users set up the maximum age of local archives, with video older than this setting uploaded automatically to the cloud.
Note that there is no way to throttle bandwidth of Cloud Archive uploads and it may impact internet speed performance. In our tests, upload bandwidth was routinely 4-5 Mb/s. Genetec explained that they have had questions about this lack of bandwidth throttling and it may be added in a future release.
While cloud archive operation is generally seamless, with video searched and viewed the same was as local archives, note that thumbnails are not provided when using video stored in the cloud, unlike local video. Aside from this, functionality is effectively similar.
Plate Reader Cloud
Plate Reader Cloud integrates with Security Center via an add-on plugin. Once installed, users associate a supported model with the plugin as the LPR camera, with a second camera optionally used for overview. Only supported
Reads may optionally be triggered based on crossline analytics (when a vehicle reaches a specific point) or digital I/O (when a ground detection loop or IR beam is triggered by a vehicle) or via no conditions. Plate Reader Cloud also includes some of the analytics found in Genetec's latest AutoVu releases, such as state of origin and vehicle make. However, direction of travel and speed estimation are not included.
The time between a plate being visible and the read event occurring in Security Center was ~1-2 seconds, similar to or slightly slower than a full-blown AutoVu Sharp system.
We found no issues reading plates day or night at 15 MPH or under using an Axis P3364 with Genetec's recommended settings. Plate state for PA, NY, and NJ was properly read nearly in nearly 100% of reads, as well. Accuracy at 30 MPH, double the 15 MPH specifications, was solid as well, though plate state of origin became inaccurate.
These are the software versions used in this test:
- Genetec Security Center: 5.3 SR1 (5.3.1417.47)
- Plate Reader Cloud: 6.0.b62.0
- Cloud Archives: 5.3.1350.21
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