Hikvision Discontinued 'Migration' To Hik-Connect Tested
In 2 weeks, Hikvision's online service web portal will be discontinued. Hikvision has now framed it as a 'migration', though the transition will be a completely manual process for dealers.
However, Hikvision says the other platform (Ezviz / Hik-Connect / Hicloudcam.com) is better.
We tested this platform, focusing on how dealers can make use out of it, and found key strengths:
- Simplified setup
- Centralized viewing
- Potentially improved security
- Remote management
- User management
- Migration process
Inside, we examine each of these points.
Limitation: No Remote Management
The main limitation in moving from Hik-Online to Hik-Connect is the lack of remote management. With DDNS / port forwarding, dealers could log in and manage devices remotely. However, the Hik-Connect interface allows almost no remote management, only turning motion detection on/off and adjusting its schedule.
Few other changes can be made without setting up port forwarding and directly connecting to the unit, including compression, FPS, VMD/analytics, etc. Because of this, dealers will most likely choose to use another dynamic DNS service to replace HiDDNS, essentially eliminating Hik-Connect. This is in fact what Hikvision support recommended to us when we asked about remote management, saying they support DynDNS and other port forwarding services.
However, Hikvision USA's marketing team says these management features will be included in EZVIZ/Hik-Connect "Q1" 2017 (discussed below).
Advantages: Simplified Setup
EZVIZ reduces the amount of setup which must be performed when setting up remote access in two ways:
- No manual router setup: No manual port forwarding is required to set up EZVIZ. In our tests, we had no issues connecting through multiple routers, both high end business class and consumer. Users enable cloud connection via the device web interface and enter a verification code on the EZVIZ app or web interface to connect.
- Devices linked to user account: Devices registered to an EZVIZ account follow that user from device to device, both mobile and desktop (iVMS-4200). Direct connections to port forwarded devices must be set up on each client, potentially time consuming for those customers with multiple users with multiple devices.
Key Advantage: Centralized Viewing
Additionally, because devices are now linked to users' accounts, instead of requiring a login to each individual device, they may more easily view video from multiple devices simultaneously. Live viewing is limited to 4 simultaneous via the web portal, but larger split views (3x3, 4x4, and larger) may be used in iVMS-4200 or iVMS-4500 mobile apps.
Note that more than one recorder may be viewed at a time using port forwarding, but this requires manually logging into each individual device, instead of a single account.
Potentially Increased Security
Removing forwarded ports in favor of P2P cloud connections should provide better security, as it reduces possible attack vectors for intruders, since common services will no longer be open to intruders.
However, this move puts the pressure on Hikvision to properly secure their cloud platform(s) end to end, which many users do not trust, with nearly 80% of respondents in our poll (below) answering that they do not trust Hikvision's cyber security after their last vulnerability was revealed.
Hikvision Future Plans
In a press release discussing this move [link no longer available], Hikvision says:
The fully featured HIk-Connect platform will be ready in Q1 2017. In the meantime, customers can use the Hik-Connect App to register devices. Once the full platform is online, customers will use the same login account created using the Hik-Connect APP or iVMS-4500 App to centrally manage all devices.
Additionally, they reiterate that the HiDDNS portal will no longer be accessible on December 30, 2016, meaning users will no longer be able to see device status or edit devices. Those devices already using the service will remain accessible via their HiDDNS URL or client software. Then, on February 16, 2017, users will no longer be able to add devices to HiDDNS. Hikvision does not give a firm date for all HiDDNS services being stopped.
For several years, Hikvision has offered Hik-Online/HiDDNS addresses to their users/dealers. This service allowed users to assign a unique domain name to Hikvision recorders, with each machine's IP address automatically kept up to date if it changed.
Additionally, dealers were able to use Hik-Online as a listing of customer sites, with links to each machine, making remote management/changes/troubleshooting simple, as the dealer could simply log in with admin credentials.
This image shows the main interface of Hik-Online with our test recorder online:
EZVIZ/Hik-Connect Device Management Limitations
Unfortunately for dealers, Hikvision's replacement service, EZVIZ (relabeled Hik-Connect or HiCloudCam, though practically the same), does not have the same functionality as Hik-Online and port forwarding.
For example, EZVIZ's Device Management menu allows users only to add devices and see status, shown below, but the only configuration options available are enabling/disabling alerts and configuring their schedule.
EZVIZ User Management Limitations
EZVIZ includes a "Friend Management" which allows users to share devices with other EZVIZ accounts, including playback/alarm/PTZ control rights. However, this interface is more akin to consumer platforms such as Nest's "Family Accounts" than typical commercial VMSes.
Managing users' devices as a dealer using this system has key drawbacks.
- First, dealers cannot create user accounts from this interface. They must be created separately with the user's email address, unlike most VMSes/NVRs which simply allow administrators to create accounts.
- Second, permissions must be assigned on a per-user basis. There is no way to create groups or templates for which users have access to devices.
- Finally, in this scenario, the user does not "own" the device, the dealer does. Many end users are likely to disagree with this setup, as they do not have full control over their own device.
These changes effectively make the Friend system unusable from a dealer/end user standpoint, where dealers were previously better able to manage their users' systems via Hik-Online using the recorder's web interface and multiple accounts.
Not A "Migration"
Despite Hikvision's language that this is a "migration" from Hik-Online to Hik-Connect, there is no migration of devices, user accounts, or settings. Instead, users must create a new Hik-Connect account and add their devices manually. Hikvision themselves admit this in their press release as they mention "Register user’s personal account via email or phone number at Hik-Connect App/Hik Connect web portal/iVMS-4200/iVMS-4500" and "Add user’s owned devices into user’s registered account" as steps in their "migration."
This is problematic for several reasons:
- Added labor for installed devices: First, regardless of how simple/quick the Hik-Connect setup process is, adding deployed recorders and/or cameras to users' accounts is a non-trivial amount of labor, as many installers have deployed dozens, hundreds, or thousands of NVRs/DVRs with port forwarding.
- Verification codes must be found: Second, adding devices to Hik-Connect requires the verification code on its box or on a sticker on the device itself. For devices which have been installed for some time, packaging is unlikely to still be available, and retrieving the verification code from each device requires a substantial time investment for a tech to visit each device location. In some cases, recorders will need to be removed from racks, causing disruptions, or stickers may no longer be attached to equipment.
We review the Hik-Connect device addition process in this video from our Hikvision Ezviz Kit Test.