Cisco Meraki Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested

By Sean Patton, Published Feb 13, 2019, 10:33am EST

Cisco Meraki says their cameras "bring Meraki magic to the enterprise video security world".

According to Meraki, their magic is their management Dashboard, ease of use and configuration, accessibility and network security and "doing things in ways they have never been done before." They are aiming to succeed in video surveillance, where Cisco has failed in the past.

** ********* * ****** cameras (******,****) *** *** ********, and ** **** ******, we ******* ******'* **** strengths *** ******* ********** including:

  • **** *** ******** ***** Streaming ***********
  • ****** ************* ************
  • ********** *** ******* *******
  • ****** ****** ************ *******
  • *****/***** ************ ***********
  • *****-***** *********** *******
  • ******** *** ******** *******
  • *******
  • ********** ** *******

Executive *******

******'* *** ********* ******* in *** *******, **** good *********** **** ******* and ****** ********, *** no ******** ** ********** issues. *******, ****** ******* and ********* *** **** expensive, *** ****** ************ cost ** **** ** more **** **** ********** VMS ********* ********. ****, Meraki ** ******* **** common *** ******** **** instant ********, ***** ********* and **** ***** **********. Atypical *** * *****-***** VMS, *** ****** *** is ******* ** ******* live ***** **** * single ******, *** ******** video ********.

***** ********* ********* **** in ***** ********** *** did *** ******* **** at ***** ** **** people **** ********* ********** in *** ***** ** view.

****** **** ** **** attractive ** *** ***** that **** ****** ******* hardware *** ******* ****** Cloud **********, *** **** to *** ******* ** their *******. *** ******* who ***** ***** ********** and ** **-******* ******/*******, Meraki ** **** ** option **** *********** **** recognition ** **. ******* to*******, *** *********** *************, ****** **** *** utilize *** ***** *** primary ***** *******, ** if * ****** ** damaged ** ******, *** recorded ***** ** *** camera ** ****.

VMS *********

****** *** ******* ******** strengths ****** **** ***** use ** ******-***** ***** analytics, ******** ************ *** remote ****** ** *** functions ** *** ********:

  • ****** ******
  • ****** ********* ** ***** Lighting
  • ****** ****** *********
  • ****** *** *********
  • ******** *** ****** ********
  • *-****** **************
  • ******** ******* **** ******
  • ******* ******* *********

VMS **********

****** *** ******* *********** features **** *** ******* or ******** ******** ** conventional *****:

  • ****** ********* ** *****
  • ****** ********* **** ********* obstructed
  • ******* ****** ***
  • ** *********** ****** ******
  • **** **** ******* *******
  • ** *****-***** ****** ** other ************
  • ******* ***** ************ ******* Internet
  • *-* ******* ******* ** Cloud *******

Overview *****

*** ********* *-****** ***** overviews *** ****** *** Portal *** *******, ************ strengths *** **********:

People ********* ********* **** ** ***** ********

******'* *** ********** ** cameras ***** ****** ********* analytics ********* ** *** camera, *** ** ****** Cloud. ** ***** ******** conditions, ****** ********* ********* well, **** ** ***** missed ******, *** ** false ********* *** ** lighting *******, *******, ***. Meraki ****** * "**** People" ******* ***** ******** any ****** ******** ** recorded *****:

People ********* ******** ** ***** *** **********

*** **** ********* **** resulted ** ******'* ****** detection ******* ** ******, or ****** ********* *** low ******** (*** ******* and ********** ** ***** present) *** ********* ********** people.

** **** *******, ****** failed ** ****** * person ******* ******* *** parking ***, ***** **** are ******* *******, *** passing ******** ** ***** of *** ******:

** **** *******, *** camera ******** *** **** lost ********* ** *** person **** *** ***** body *** *******:

****** **** **** **** aware ** ***** ***********, noting *** ****** ********* is * "****" *******, and ***** ******** ****** will ** ******* *** trained **** ********** ********.

Limited ****** ***

******'* ****** *** ****** single-camera **** *******, ******** for ********* *********, ******** cameras, ***. ** **** not ***** ***** ********, multicamera *******, ** ****** snapshots.

****** **** **** *** mobile *** **** ** receiving ******* ** ******** its ************* *** ***** users, *******, **** ***** that **** ********* ****** the ****** *** ** be **** *** ******* configuration *** ****** ************.

Flexible **** **** *******

********* * ******** *** web-based *****, ******'* ***** Wall ****** *** ***** performed ****, *** ******** the ********* ********* ***** on *** ****** ** cameras ****** *** ******* layout:

2-Factor ************** (***) ******* *****

******'* *** *** ***** to *** ** *** offers *** *** ***-***** authenticator *******. ****** **** offers *** **** ******* configuration *** ******** ****** configuration *** ***** *******. Though *** **** *** secure *** *** **** all ***** ** ****** exploit, ** *** ******* account ****** *** ******* malicious ***** **** ********** to ****** *** ****** (**** *-****** ************** ******).

Dynamic ******* *********

******* ***** ******* ** onboard *** *******, **** resolution, ******* *** ********* type (********** ** ******) are *******, *** ****** interface *********** ******* *** estimated **** ** *********:

****** **** **** ***** camera ****** ********* ***** @20fps ********** ****** ****** 7 **** ** ******** video, *** **** ***** they *** ******* ** pushing **** ***** ** cloud ********, *** **** added ****** ***** ********* which ******* *** ***** without ****** ********* ***** 3 ****.

****** *******, ** **** 1080P ****** ********* ** 8 *** ********** ******** over * ***** ** video.

System ****** *********

* ****** ******* ******** from ****** ******* ********** system, *** ****** ********* displays ****** ********** ******, and ****** ******** *** cameras **** *** ** online *********, **** *** have **** ******* ************:

Limited **** ***** ********* ** ******** ** ***

****** ******* *** *******, Meraki ****** ***** ******* of **** *****. ** the ********* ******** ***** Internet ************:

  • ***** **** ****** ******* on **** ****** (********* configured *********)
  • ***** *** ******* **** be **** ** ******** viewing **** ******* ** local *******
  • ******** ***** ****** ** cameras ****** ** ****** locally
  • ********** ***** ****** ** video *** ** ****** remotely

**** ********* ******** ** the ******, *** *** displays * ***** ********* (instead ** * ***** icon):

High ******* **** ***** *******/***** ****** ***

**** ********* ** *** same *******, ****** ****** LAN ****** *********** **** a ******* ** *-* seconds.

*******, ******* ***** ***** results ** * *-* second *****, ********** ** video ******* ** ********** selected:

**** ** *-** ****** than ***** ******* **** Arcules *** *******.

No *********** ****** ******

****** ****** * ****** format, *** *** ********* video. **** ***** ****** is **** ** ******** on ******* *******, *******, they ******* ** ********, watermarking, ** ******** ** the ***** **** ** is ********. ************, ******* Meraki **** *** **** a ***** **** ******, there ** ** *****-****** playback **** *** ***** is ********.

****, ********* ***** ** an .*** ** * 2-step ******* ** ********* from *** ****** ** the ***** *** **** downloading *** ***** **** the ***** ** * local **. ***** ** no ******-****-****** ******** ******.

**** ********** *** ********* provide * ***** ******** format **** * ********** player. ******* ************ ** typically **** ** ****** when ***** * *********** video ******.

No *** / ******* / ***** ******* *******

****** **** ********** **** ********** **** *** ***** a ***, *******, ** video ********. ****** **** they *** ******** ** release *** *** ******* camera ****** ***** ** customer *******, *** ***** not ******* * ********.

No *****-***** ****** ******* ** ***** ************

****** **** ********** *****, Meraki **** *** ******* any *** ***** ****** control ** ***** ************. They ***** **** *** open ** *****-***** *** integration ** ***** ******* but ** *** **** any ****** ************ **** could ****.

No ***** / *** ***** ****** *******

****** **** *** ******* ONVIF ** ****** ****** support *** *** ***-***** cameras.

DHCP ******* ****

****** ******* ** *** support****** ** *********. ****** *********** ***** DHCP **** *** ************ if **** ******* **** IP ******* ** ********.

Web ****** **** *********

****** ******* ** *** have ** ********** *** server ********* ***** ** most *********** ** ******* and **** *** ************* and ****** ************** (********* passwords, ** *******, ***). While **** **** * web ****** **** ******** at *****://, it ******* ** * warning *** ********** ** the "******" ******* ******* in ** ******* **** refresh ****.

****** **** ***** ** and *** *** **** for ****** *** ***** streaming. **** **** *** cameras *** ********** ******** signed *** ************, *** all ****** ************** ******* TLS ****** ***********.

Software ****** **********

****** ************* ******* *** VMS ********, ****** ******** approximately ***** *-* ***** and ********* ***** ******* and *** ***** ******. Cameras ******** ******* **** follow **** ********, *** can ** ********* ** avoid ************ ********:

*******

****** ***** * **** Cameras, ****** *** *******, 720P ** ***** **********. MSRP ****** *** ****** below, ****** ************ ******* was ~**% ***** **** MSRP:

  • **** - ****** ***** Lens ******* ****: $***-$*,***
  • **** - ****** ***** Varifocal **** ******: $*,***
  • **** - ****** **** Varifocal **** ******: $*,***
  • **** - ******* ***** Varifocal **** ******: $*,***
  • **** - ******* **** Varifocal **** ******: $*,***

***** ***** ****** ***** 256GB ******* *******, **** models ***** *****.

****** *** ****** ************ licensing ** ********, *** contract **** ****** *** $300 *** * ****, $600 *** * *****, $900 *** * *****, and ** ** $*,*** for * **-**** ********. IPVM **** ~$*** *** camera *** *-**** ************* from ***.

***** ****** *** **** and ***** ******* *** significantly ****** **** **** traditional ****** *************, ***** sub-$100 ******* *** *********. Additionally, *** ****** ************ costs ** **** ** more **** **** ********** VMS ********* ********. ***** costs **** ** *** take **** ******* ******** costs.

Compared ** *******

**-****** ************* ******* *******'************* ** *********** * clone ** ******'*, ** they **** ***** **** analytic *******, **** ******* storage ** ******* ***** retention, ******* ****** ****-**-*** web-based *****. **** ******* are *********, ******* **** offer * ******** ***** range ** ******* (**** fisheye, *** ****, ***), but ******'* ********* ******** better *** *** ***** bugs *** ***********.

******* ************ ******* ** less ********* (~**% **** MSRP ** * ****** basis), *** ** ***** in * ******* ******* phase, ***** ****** ** nearly **-***** ***, *** has *** ******* ** Cisco, ** ** *****.

Comments (18)

Nice comprehensive article Sean!

Any thoughts on how Cisco should be viewed when taking cyberissues into account?

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Personally, I think Cisco should be viewed with significant skepticism. Also, the overall impact is much greater taking into account the entire network infrastructure, and most of what I have read (including the article you referenced), is that the backdoors have been found in Cisco routers, not in Access Points/VoIP devices/Cameras.

That does not mean that I believe the rest of Cisco's infrastructure receives an automatic clean bill of health, but it certainly raises the scope of concern outside of a VMS test.

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This could hardly be better timed :) Thanks, guys.

"Meraki does not utilize the cloud for primary video storage, so if a camera is damaged or stolen, any recorded video on the camera is lost."

I'm gobsmacked. Doesn't this revelation mean that one of the main possible advantages of cloud storage is not met? Off-site mirror. This is often cited by our clients (and numerous VaaS services) as a strong reason for rejecting 'traditional' on-site NVRs. I may be such an old git that I'm overlooking something here...

I must admit, I was hoping to see tests on image quality, IR patterns at night, WDR effectiveness, etc. Put simply, do these cameras perform well against other big names? At this price they should be absolutely marvellous ;) Any plans for tests such as these soon?

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Doesn't this revelation mean that one of the main possible advantages of cloud storage is not met? Off-site mirror. This is often cited by our clients (and numerous VaaS services) as a strong reason for rejecting 'traditional' on-site NVRs. I may be such an old git that I'm overlooking something here...

Meraki offers cloud-based storage, but it is not the primary standard method of video retention. Cloud-based Archiving is available as an additional license and offers continuous 24/7 recording as a mirror to the on-camera storage.

I was hoping to see tests on image quality, IR patterns at night, WDR effectiveness, etc. Put simply, do these cameras perform well against other big names? At this price they should be absolutely marvellous

This test was primarily focused on the VMS features and functionality, while also testing video analytics and looking for significant video image issues. The greatest limiting factor of the cameras is they can only be used with Meraki since they are not ONVIF conformant and do not output an accessible RTSP stream.

Anecdotally, the video quality was satisfactory, but not exceptional in any specific category (IR, WDR/HDR, low light).

 

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I'm gobsmacked. 

Speaking as an American, I prefer to be flabbergasted.  However we are in agreement about the lunacy of losing video of the event if the camera is stolen etc.

We were just getting to the point, after years of fighting felonious ignorance, that criminals have finally realized that stealing a camera is not going to remove evidence of their crime.

Now, word will quickly spread amongst them that stealing the camera can help cover their tracks.  This needlessly puts at risk the vast majority of externally recordered cameras, to gratuitous theft and violence.

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We have 5 meraki cameras that we got for testing (paid for 3, they gave us 2 of the newer ones once they were released) I configured and installed them, set up accounts for testing and they sat unused. I unplugged them many months ago and NO ONE noticed. The closed system model definitely does not work for existing installations (we have over 2000 cameras in service) and the permanent year over year costs are prohibitive.

I won't be bringing them back online unless the executives direct me to do so.

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[Disclosure: I work for Meraki]

I would suggest they enable the alerting so they notice next time a camera is unplugged.

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The more I learn about Meraki, the more I'm both gobsmacked and flabbergasted.

I've got some UK prices this week (which I won't divulge as that would betray the confidentiality with which they were given) for hardware, camera licence (English spelling!) and cloud recording licence (because losing the recording if you lose the camera seems like madness).

The hardware is eye-wateringly expensive compared with (probably) better alternatives from long-trusted manufacturers. The yearly camera running costs are jaw-droppingly high when compared with the one-time licences that come with 'traditional' cameras. If the annual camera licence is X, then the cloud storage for 90 days is 2.5X, giving recurring costs of 3.5X every year if you want each camera to not become a brick(!), which seems outrageous compared with the many alternative services that are available, and that are not 'closed' systems.

A bit harsh? I'm hoping to get my hands on a real example, and I'll be happy to stand up and revise my thoughts if I am mistaken here.

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...recurring costs of 3.5X every year if you want each camera to not become a brick(!), which seems outrageous...

one strategy for locking the hardware down would be because you plan to sell the cameras below cost and make it up on the services.  “Oooh, look a phone for $5!”  Which wouldn’t be a bad deal, if you didn’t have to use their outrageous pre-paid card.

With Meraki the strategy is to make the phone $500 and force their own exorbitant plan on you.

And unlike the burner phone companies, Meraki won’t have worry about hackers finding a way to open up their hardware.

I mean where is the incentive?

“Dear Meraki, we have hacked your hardware, if you don’t meet our demands, we will start buying your overpriced hardware en masse!”

 

 

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Does it offer the option to only record on motion? I don't see that in the screenshot where it calculates the retention period. 

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Fletcher,

There is not a strict option to record only on motion, but you can enable motion-only retention, which will delete video without motion detected after 3 days:

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Fletcher,

A couple more images for you on the details of motion based retention.

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Thank you Sean and George.

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Has anyone come across special education pricing ?   I'm told by a trusted IT manager at a district school board in Canada that Cisco is offering a per camera price of $1500 on a five year subscription- 30 days storage per camera.

 

This price INCLUDES the camera/less installation

That is hard to beat if true.

 

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#2, I am sure they do. Here is an example of NZ special education pricing.

And depending on the deal, I would expect it to be negotiated to quite substantial discounts.

Is $1,500 for a camera / 5 years really that great a deal though? Seems like alternatives could be offered for that price or less?

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A quote I got in April for 24 of them, with 128GB storage, and 3Yr Cloud Archive (90 day retention) came out to $905.50 USD per camera. Did not include installation. That translates to $1100 Canadian dollars per camera. I got this quote from a Cisco distributor, not an integrator.

 

 

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That is a significant discount on the camera and expecially the license, but not unheardof from Meraki. I think they have a mistake in the quote, they only included a single 90 day/3 year license, which would only cover retention for a single camera, not all 24.

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Interesting. I imagine he told me that, but it's been a few months since I priced this out. That would put the per-camera cost at $1688 USD, in which case UI2's anecdotal price of $1500 CAD really is a pretty good deal. And with two extra years on the licenses. 

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