Milestone Interconnect Reviewed

By John Honovich, Published May 07, 2013, 08:00pm EDT

Milestone has so many VMS versions [link no longer available] it is hard to keep track. Indeed, recently, they announced 'Interconnect [link no longer available]', which is actually not another version but a software interface that connects different Milestone VMS versions. While it is not a major leap forward in total functionalities, it allows customers to choose less expensive combinations for advanced features that increase Milestone's cost competitiveness for large projects. In this note, we examine the technical and pricing details, explaining the potential benefits and limitations of this approach.

Technical Overview

Interconnect [link no longer available] is a software adapter that allows 'remote systems' to connect to a 'central system'. In this case, the highest end Milestone VMS, Corporate, is the only version that can act as the central system. Corporate can then 'interconnect' with paid Milestone versions such as Enterprise, Professional, Express and Essential. By the end of this year, Milestone says Interconnect will also support their new VMS platform Arcus.

Here's how it works, "the remote system will in essence appear on the central XProtect Corporate site as a “multi-channel video encoder” with edge storage support." Just like other encoders Milestone Corporate supports, the video feeds can be configured and integrated with Corporate functionalities.

Interconnect enables a number of key functionalities:

  • The central Corporate VMS system can now access live and recorded video from other Milestone VMS versions.
  • Advanced Corporate features like event rules, interactive maps, prioritized alarm lists, access control integration, etc. can be used with cameras from 'remote' Milestone VMS versions / systems.
  • Video recorded from remote systems can be transferred to the central system (just like it was edge storage on a camera).

Milestone's marketing video below emphasizes the benefits for applications such as centralized monitoring and transit:

Pricing

Ultimately, the crucial advantage is reducing total system cost.

Milestone charges an MSRP of $119 USD per camera that is 'interconnected' and users can choose which cameras they want to enable. This charge is in addition to the VMS license fee (for example, Milestone Essential is $49 USD MSRP, plus $119 for any camera that is interconnected).

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By contrast, Milestone's Corporate version has an MSRP of $300+ per channel so interconnecting only the specific cameras you want centrally monitored is far less expensive than buying Corporate for every channel. Even if you interconnected every channel, it could still be as much as half off the MSRP, and far less if users only picked a subset of cameras to be interconnected.

Limitations

The key limitation of less expensive versions plus interconnect is the lack of enterprise configuration. For instance, even if cameras from a Milestone Essential system are 'interconnected' to Corporate, an admin must connect directly to each Essential server to configure those cameras. Additionally, they cannot use rules / templates to simplify configuration of those cameras (as they can with Corporate).

Milestone added that, when interconnecting, hardware costs might be higher as additional lower camera count distributed machines might be used rather than fewer, higher camera count central ones.

Impact on Milestone Positioning

This effectively delivers a price cut for Milestone customers who want more advanced functionalities but do not want to pay the full price of Corporate for all of their cameras. Since high end VMS providers typically require all cameras to be on the same VMS version, this will improve Milestone's overall competitiveness.

However:

  • Many budget NVR / DVR / VMS offerings already give enterprise viewing away at no additional cost even for their low end / low cost versions. On the other hand, they typically do not include the advanced Corporate features being made available.
  • It will provide limited benefits to those Milestone users already on Enterprise as the cost of interconnecting the expensive Enterprise version to Corporate provides no savings. Indeed, Interconnect will likely motivate existing Enterprise users and new large scale operations to choose Corporate over Enterprise.

For very large VMS projects, most VMS providers routinely offer heavy discounts off list price. We think Interconnect is a useful way to allow for lower end user cost here while requiring some feature reduction, without having to simply drop price. Finally, combined with Arcus, it could enable significantly lower cost enterprise deployments (like what Veracity is doing with their recent Coldstore Arcus release).

2 reports cite this report:

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