VMS Installation Comparison

Author: Sarit Williams, Published on Aug 28, 2013

The first real experience most integrators have with a VMS is installing the software. Immediate issues can create a bad impression. Worse, challenges can lead to integrators giving up in favor of an easier to install products.

Installation impacts ongoing operations as well. The longer and more complex a VMS is to install, the more it costs, the more likely something goes wrong, and the less likely it can be delegated to a junior tech.

In this report, we share our test findings of installing Milestone, Genetec, Avigilon, Exacq, Network Optix and Video Insight VMSes.

Key questions answered:

  • What is the availability of the installer / installation files?
  • How large was the installer and how long did it take to download and install?
  • How complex was the set up process and what could go wrong?
  • What add-ons or modules were separate that might cause issues or confusion later?
  • What is the licensing process and what delays might one experience?

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Comments (26)

Little correction

Avigilon by default does install "webclient"

plz check server directory

and you will see folder with named "webclient"

Thank you Alex for that typo correction. I meant to say Mobile is not included- I updated the image accordingly.

A superb article just on time, great work, thanks very much. I am wondering why Mobotix not included?

Thank you Undisclosed. For the first round of VMS testing we are including 6 VMSes; This Test Plan article has the details.

Could OnSSI be added to the bunch. Specifically the Ocularis ES.

You would need a whole series of articles on how to implement Ocularis ES correctly. Maybe instead of VMS install comparisons they should do a VMS design/implementiation series.

Love your VMS review and deep comparisons. Just noticed that your "Finding the install package" link for Video Insight is broken. The correct page is http://www.video-insight.com/download-trial.php

Thank for the nice comment, Michael and that broken link catch- I fixed it.

Curious as to why ONSSI is not showing up in the recent VMS related articles. Can you provide any insight on this?

Hi Kelly,

We are including 6 VMSes for the first round of feature comparisons. Please see our Testing Plan post.

Kelly, we cannot test every VMS and since OnSSI is very similar to Milestone (they OEM Milestone's 'recording engine' as they put it), we went for greater diversity. There will be some specialized tests (like on transcoding, where testing OnSSI is valuable - because of their X / Media Server). Later, this year, we will start testing individual VMSes (OnSSI, Aimetis, Salient, etc.).

Trying out Milestone I was pretty surprised to find how bloated and resource intensive it was compared to others like Exacq and Network Optics, along with some other VMSs that compete in Milestone and Genetecs arena. Seriously, over a gigabyte of installation files?! And they still have to use 3rd party components for web access and database management? To me the more a program relies on seperate frameworks and 3rd party components and is that big, the more problems can occur.

This is a great nuts and bolts article, Sarit!

Thank you Undisclosed, I agree.

In fairness, I tested Milestone's Corporate version so it was a bear, otherwise, their other editions are (a little) less with Essential at 857MB, but it still requires .NET separately.

I like Milestone and disagree with Undisclosed.

1. Why do I care if Milestone is 1.8G or 857M or 5G for that matter. I care that the program works. With the low cost of quality hard drives those sizes don't matter.

2. Resource intensive? I just happened to white note Milestone Essential resource use this week for a project. With Milestone Recorder and Mobile Servers and 2 remote users logged in--it was under 15%. That is extremely low. That number will go up or down depending on the power of the processor and we buy better quality Xeon processors.

1. It's not about hard drive installation space for the program, but resource usage (processory, memory, general I/O) and the number of components that have to work together.

2. "With Milestone Recorder and Mobile Servers and 2 remote users logged in--it was under 15%. That is extremely low. That number will go up or down depending on the power of the processor and we buy better quality Xeon processors." Sorry, I'm just used to getting that or less with Core i3 and i5 processors. :)

How many cameras were you using, resolution, encoding and was motion recording being used? I've installed tons of OnSSI which uses the Milestone Recorder and I agree, it is a reource hog. In my previous job I had 70+ 1.3 and 2MP cameras running on one server using exacq and my processor usage was under 15%

In my example I'm talking systems with around say 20 cameras with no server side motion with a couple remote users using client software and a couple using web. A mix of 1.3 megapixel and 2 megapixel. Resources were not that high. And they shouldn't be, just for serving up video streams.

Were you using MJPEG as well? How many installs does the VMS "just serve up video streams"? I can think of two out of the hundreds I quoted and installed. Turn on H.264, use your server side motion and set your cameras to 15 ips and let me know what the processor usage is then. That's closer to a real world example.

If you mean "just serve up video streams" as meaning not recording, you misinterpreted what I was saying. I did not mean to say they were only serving up streams, I meant it should not take that much resources for serving streams to viewing clients. I did not mean to imply the systems were not also recording.

Also, they were recording h264, but if the camera serves h264 streams and there's no need to transcode on the server side, it should not make much of a difference if it is mjpeg or h264. The work is being done by the camera serving the stream to encode it to h264, and then by the viewing client to decode the h264 stream.

And I don't need to do the test you propose. I already know from the trial test we did here the pretty high resource intensiveness of Milestone versus Exacq, Network Optics, and a few others that were not so code heavy but enterprise level.

I don't understand your challenge when you said you found Onssi, whichs uses Milestone components, to be a "resources hog".

You also mentioned a whole series of articles would be needed to correctly implemet Ocularis correctly. Is it that complex to do compared to other comparable VMS systems? Would Milestone be similar?

You're correct I did misunderstand you. If you use server side motion detection w/H.264 it is far more resource intensive than MJPEG as it has to decode all that video in order to do the motion detection. That means you're recording on schedule or 24/7 or you have to create events to record on motion alarms from the camera which imo is cumbersome.

Compared to software like exacq Milestone is a resource hog which you said in your reply.

As far as OnSSI goes I was referring to Ocularis ES which the poster had asked for. This equates to Milestone Corporate I think? There's a lot of planning involved in those types of systems. Hardware planning, software planning, storage, SQL, redundant servers, etc. It's not easy.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying it is horrible. When implemented properly they are both great systems! I guess my long winded point is that on the 10-50 camera sites you're better off using a low impact VMS like exacq than a resource hungry app.

Milestone Client-Server interaction is a sneaky resource consumer. During our Client perfomance testing activity over the summer and at the urging of one of our customers, we experimented with the Web Client and the Smart Client and observerd how they interact with the server.

The Mobile Server is the standalone function that serves up the feeds to your mobile clients. Its function is to transcode the stored/live feeds from whatever the sources are on the server to a low res MJPEG stream that can be handled by simple web browsers on the client end.

The transcoding task is a HUGE resource consumer...mostly CPU.... because it literally will transcode ALL active camera streams available via the views set up when the connection is first started, then drop to whatever transcoding resource required to view the salvo the user requested. Repeat this for each web client user.

This startup transcoding activity can bring even a dual XEON system to 100% CPU for a couple of minutes dependng on how many cameras are active.

We now recommend to our customers to dedicate a medium class system for this Mobile Server function when they plan to utilize this function.

The Smart Client will cause the server to start transcoding streams when the Image Quality setting for the camera feeds is changed from the default 'Full' setting in the properties. This resource consumption is documented as followsin the Smart Client Manual:

"While using a reduced image quality helps limit bandwidth use, it will—due to the need for re-encoding images—use additional resources on the surveillance system server."

John,

Nice report, I enjoy reading positives about Avigilon - can you try and keep that up ;)

I wonder if SQLite is the crutch making video review time slower with those that use it. I look forward to that followup report where you select say 2 weeks ago Sunday at 10am-10:30 and see how long it takes in seconds to pull that result set for review. I think that kind of test will put quite a lot of separation between vendors.

Paul,

I too, considered several possible issues with SQLite. It is certainly smaller and easier to install than SQLExpress. However, it is actually not designed for a client/server environment where latency can be introduced over a slow network, especially when doing long term archive searches. In addition, it is also not an enterprise level RDBMS with many users making changes. For example: reading (doing archive searches) can be performed simultaneously, but what should happen if multiple users are trying to bookmark the same video, in different areas? you will have problems when concurrent writes/info modifications may occur due to record locks.

VMS architecture and design would be a great article we may tackle in the future.

I remember dealing with Video Insight years ago when we would buy their capture cards and build the systems our selves. We ALWAYS had corruption issues with the SQL, I don't remember one client that didn't have this issue at least once if not multiple times.

SQLite is not being used by HD Witness as a "client/server" DBMS. The HD Witness Media Server/Enterprise Controller is a single process and only that process communicates with the SQLite DB. As such the VMS server process holds the exclusive lock on the DB file and ensures no other user or process can interfere with the data's integrity. The VMS server is able to manage concurrency most effectively this way. The reality is that all writes to the DB are in affect serialised in a VMS environment anyway so concurrency in writes is not a big advantage.

With regards to the download times of the install files, we routinely have these files already installed on our systems precisely because they are so large and take many minutes to download or even copy from a thumb drive.

I noticed this was a significant amount of time when I was downloading them for myself and we decided to add these to our system install images to save time for our customers.

We update the files about twice a year or more frequently if our customers are demanding a more recent version. We currently have 9 VMSs represented (based on what our customers have requested) and four of the six mentioned here are in that mix.

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