Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI NVR Appliances Launched

By John Honovich, Published Jun 15, 2009, 08:00pm EDT

The big IP video software providers have historically been software only - meaning that you could install their software on regular computers (COTS) but you could not get the software pre-loaded on hardware (appliances).

This is changing with Intransa announcing that they are providing NVR appliances pre-loaded [link no longer available] with Exacq, Genetec, JDS, Milestone and OnSSI software.

[Intransa is referring to these NVRs as "VideoApplianes". For details, see the Intransa Data Sheet [link no longer available] and the A&E Specifications [link no longer available].]

[Update March 2011: Milestone has released its own NVR appliances.]

Why NVRs from Software Only Providers are Needed

IP video software is moving into the mass market. In the past, when the software was for high end niches and early adopters, the complexity of loading and managing software was a minor factor. However, the smaller camera counts and lower technical capabilities of the mass market benefits from a bundled approach where the software is pre-loaded and optimized on the hardware.

How this Offering Works

Intransa is pre-loading the IP video software on two categories of appliances: (1) with video storage built-in to the appliance (the 100 and 200 models) and (2) with video storage external to the appliance (the 10,20 and 30 models). [Note: the Product overview brochure [link no longer available] breaks down the distinctions.]

In this review, we focus on the VA 100 and 200 appliance - the units with built-in video storage. See our review from last month on the units with external storage (the 10, 20 and 30).

The 100 and 200 function and fit just like traditional NVRs. In a 1RU appliance, video management and storage is provided all-in-one. The appliance supports 4 drive bays with base configurations of 2TB and 4TB (raw storage, usable would be 1.5TB or 3TB with RAID5 storage).

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The MSRP for these units is (in USD):

  • VA100:  2TB $6,300; 4TB $8,400
  • VA200:  2TB $7,300;  4TB $8,800
  • VA Expander:  6TB $7,000;  12TB $10,000 [for additional storage]
This price is for the Intransa hardware/storage only. The IP Video software is sold separately. The total NVR cost is a combination of the hardware listed above and the software licenses.

The 100 and 200 differ in 3 main respects:

  • More powerful CPU: 100 has 2.0 GHz Quad Core Xeon while the 200 has 2.33 GHz Quad Core Xeon
  • Higher Frame Rate capacity: The 100 is rated up to 1500 fps at MPEG-4 while the 200 is rated up to 1800 fps at MPEG-4
  • Redundant Power Supply: The 200 has it, the 100 does not.
Embedded video capture cards are not supported in any model. As such, analog cameras require separate encoders.

How does this compare to other DVR/NVR offerings in the market?

For those seeking IP video software from Genetec, Milestone or OnSSI, there are few options for pre-loaded appliances. JVC offers a 16 channel Milestone powered NVR that can be purchased online for $7,000-$8,000 USD (including the Milestone software licenses). There are other DVR/NVR offerings in development that will soon be announced.

Exacq provides a wide range of appliances in addition to its software offerings from their hybrid server line to their recently announced embedded Linux (EL) series. Both series offer embedded video capture cards to directly support analog cameras without the need for encoders. A 16 channel EL unit has an MSRP of approximately $5,000 USD.

Beyond this, there are a number of IP video software providers who offer NVR appliances including IndigoVision, Mirasys and Salient [link no longer available] (just to name a few).

What applications fit best for the Intransa appliances?

The best fit for these appliances is likely to be 32 cameras or more with limited or no analog cameras.

The main two limitations for the Intransa 100 and 200 appliances are (1) the high entry price level and (2) the lack of embedded video capture cards.

For instance, let's consider a 16 channel deployment with existing analog cameras. Intransa's MSRP would be about $12,000 USD (assuming $6,3000 for the 100 series server, $2,000 for the software licenses and $3,000 for the 16 channel encoder). By contrast, the Exacq EL series would likely cost half the price. Other hybrid DVRs would be somewhat more expensive (maybe $7,000 to $9,000) but still significantly less than Intransa.

However, if you have a 48 camera deployment with all IP cameras, the Intransa price point will be equal or superior to other appliance offerings. More importantly, if you are using Genetec, Milestone or OnSSI, (3 of the largest providers in the market) these appliances will reduce cost, complexity and risk of deployment.

In practical terms, this means that department stores and big box retailers will likely find this attractive (they usually do 32 cameras or more and have larger footprints increasing the value of IP). By contrast, bank branches, fast food restaurants and clothing retailers will find it harder to justify this offering compared to hybrid DVRs (given that they generally have no more than 16 cameras and mostly analog).

What impact does this have on IP video software providers?

For Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI, this fills a major hole in their product offerings. Having been to Milestone's training, specifying hardware and optimizing software seemed to be 2 of the biggest concerns of integrators. The Intransa approach solves this.

For the general market, it is significant simply because of the market share of Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI. IMS figures put these three at perhaps 50% of the overall open IP video software market. While there are dozens of IP video software providers, this action will have a disproportionate impact on the market. Also, expect Intransa to add other IP video software providers as their approach is to provide a hardware platform for IP video.

What impact does this have on traditional DVR providers?

Making IP video software easier to deploy expands the market for IP video at the expensive of DVRs. For a number of years, IP video has been attractive for 100+ camera counts where racks of DVRs could be replaced by IP video software on COTS hardware. Intransa's move moves the minimum camera count down further.

The under 32 (and more specifically under 16) camera count market will likely remain as a stronghold for DVRs. This segment should not be overlooked as the majority of all deployments in the world are under 32 cameras (while banks and retailers may have tens of thousands of cameras, they are generally divided into under 32 camera deployments at thousands of locations).

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