Milestone as a VSaaS

By Ethan Ace, Published May 22, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

While Milestone seeks global VMS domination, many view the VSaaS market as a potential new rival that could undercut the growth and future of traditional VMS applications like Milestone's XProtect. While Milestone has talked about their VMS as a VSaaS, until now it has been fairly vague and high level. However, with the release of their Corporate 5.0 version comes the first product expansion into VSaaS. In this note, we look at the implementation, potential applications, and how it compares to competitive options.

Overview

Milestone added support for Axis One-Click integration in XProtect Corporate 5.0. This allows remotely located Axis cameras to "phone home" to an Milestone deployment, reducing installation time and complexity. This automates camera additions, eliminating the need to add cameras by IP address, and reduces network configuration needed at the remote site, since manual port forwarding setup is no longer required.

Essentially, the server registers with the Axis Dispatch service, which directs Axis cameras supporting One-Click to the XProtect server, all identified by a unique username and password. Users should refer to the XProtect Administrator's Guide (page 86) for Milestone-specific configuration details, and refer to our One-Click overview for more details on functionality.

Milestone's support for this feature is limited to their top-tier, most expensive VMS offering and cannot be added to other VMS versions, like Enterprise, Essential, etc.

This image, taken during our discussions with Milestone at ISC West, shows the location of the Axis One-Click service in the XProtect Management Client:

While this one shows configuration instructions from the Admin Guide:

Potential Applications

This integration enhances Milestone use in two key scenarios:

  • Integrator-hosted VSaaS: With this addition, Milestone Corporate could be used by integrator partners to create an in-house VSaaS solution. This would allow the integrator to resell service, installing only cameras at customers' sites, with simplified network requirements. Since no account management features are included, such as starting/stopping service, billing, etc., managing many accounts this way may become troublesome, and many integrators are not equipped with proper server infrastructure and internet bandwidth to handle these connections. However, for a handful of accounts, it may be a simple solution.
  • Private VSaaS deployments: Using One-Click, XProtect Corporate may be used by corporate customers to set up a "private cloud", eliminating recorders at remote sites. This enables multi-site deployment and remote viewing, without the ongoing costs of using a third-party VSaaS. Initial capital costs will be higher, due to server and licensing purchases. However, given typical VSaaS pricing of $10-20/month or more, camera licenses may be less expensive than ongoing VSaaS charges.

Given the limited bandwidth and potentially unreliable nature of most internet connections, the ability to continue recording at the edge during network failure is an advantage for Milestone in both these scenarios.

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Competitive Comparison

Milestone is the largest VMS provider to implement Axis One-Click. Salient Systems and ipConfigure have added this integration, as well, but given Milestone's prominent market position in the VMS industry, their moves will likely have greater impact. Also, ipConfigure uses One-Click not in their core VMS offering, Enterprise Surveillance Manager [link no longer available], but in a separate, hosted-only solution [link no longer available].

Prime competitor Genetec also recently began positioning themselves as an alternative to VSaaS, using Security Center and its edge recording features to create private clouds (similar to the second deployment scenario above):

  • Edge recording support: Security Center offers the ability to record at the edge full time, reducing bandwidth needs between sites, an advantage compared to Milestone's failover-only features.
  • One-Click integration: Genetec does not offer Axis One-Click integration in Security Center, nor are there plans to implement it. This is a substantial advantage for Milestone in setting up remote cameras, as far less network configuration is required.

Future Development

We asked Milestone about the use of Axis One-Click and the future of XProtect as a VSaaS. They replied:

"The support of the Axis One-click is the first step in our remote camera connectivity effort. This is a cost-effective way of connecting remote cameras. Low installation and maintenance costs for the end user is the initial goal. Simplifying the connectivity of remote devices with the Axis one-click server is a building block toward a fully developed VaaS/MVaaS solution."

Aside from this, Milestone did not indicate future releas plans, but we will be following this development closely.

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