'Confidential' Security Product Pricing Revealed

By John Honovich, Published Nov 25, 2012, 07:00pm EST

When preparing a security project, one of the first questions is: "How much will this cost?" Tighter budgets restrict organizations all the time. Cost is often,for better or for worse, a prime factor in decisions. For this reason, price lists are often desired to ensure the lowest costs are achieved.

Industry manufacturers, however, generally do not make pricing publicly available. If the public has no idea what an item should cost, based on MSRP pricing, their dealers may mark up hardware and software to whatever level they choose. One way end users across all segments can get a better idea of pricing is to utilize publicly available pricing from purchasing agreements, such as the US government's General Services Administration (more commonly referred to as the GSA).

GSA requires manufacturers or vendors to disclose pricing in order to take part in the bid. Some contracts allow vendors to show pricing as "25% off of MSRP", which keeps their costs hidden, but others require the vendor to submit their actual cost and markup, to be truly transparent. This does not mean, however, that multiple bidders cannot offer the same product at different prices. This can and does happen on public contracts, even GSA, as we will demonstrate.

A search of the GSA Advantage website reveals most any major manufacturer you can think of, for example:

  • Megapixel manufacturer Avigilon: Here's their 29MP camera for ~$7,400 and here's a listing of 100 different Avigilon products, including cameras, encoders and VMS.
  • PSIM manufacturers Vidsys and Proximex can both be found. For those wondering how large the price tag of PSIM actually is, this will be especially interesting. For example, a Vidsys remote site connection costs ~$9,250 and a single operator user license costs ~$2,300. Proximex Surveillent server software, on the other hand, ranges from about $6,200 to nearly $25,000, not including any integrations.
  • A search for access control and security management company Lenel shows the differences in what an end user may pay for the same product from different vendors. Searching for "SWS-32ESI" provides results from ten different vendors offering the same license, with prices ranging from $1,511 to $1,756. This is a 14% difference, which could result in considerable savings using GSA. If using these prices simply for estimates, however, averaging these out is likely a better choice for more accurate costs.
  • Numerous video surveillance manufacturers may be found via GSA as well. Companies such as Verint, NICE, DVTel, Exacq, which all guard pricing, may be found for reference.

Buyers should beware of using GSA pricing if they're not eligible for purchasing from the GSA contract. Pricing on the GSA schedule is typically much lower (in the range of 20-40%) of MSRP. Basing any project estimates on GSA pricing will lead to underpriced systems. Additionally, pricing is not necessarily kept up-to-date. Some pricing may no longer be accurate, and new products may not be listed. All things considered, GSA may be a valuable tool when preparing cost estimates, but should not be used as a sole source of pricing information.

[Note this post was originally posted on June 7, 2011 but was revised and updated in November 2012.]

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