Saddest Case Study Ever (Genetec Chinese Buffet)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 25, 2013

Oh Genetec...

The company is so lost in the clouds, they must not see the comedy in their latest press release.

The VSaaS market is tough, no doubt, with incumbents around the world struggling to make it a reality. Even mega manufacturer Axis is getting dumped these days.

In the middle of this, Genetec is rolling out Statocast, their Windows powered cloud surveillance offering. It is PR 101 to get some success stories and to trumpet them.

China Rose Restaurant

In Calgary, the China Rose Restaurant is known for its buffet, mediocre Yelp reviews, and now for being Genetec's flagship Stratocast restaurant customer.

The release touts some astounding advantages of China Rose's migration to Stratocast, like:

  • The owner used to have to be at the restaurant to watch his surveillance video, now he can do it from his smartphone.
  • He was surprised with the "drastic improvement in the level of detail in the video" in Stratocast over his DVR.
  • "His DVR would only allow him to keep about one week of recordings, Stratocast now enables him to retain and quickly access up to four weeks of footage."

You know, the same benefits from buying a ~$1,000 kit from Costco, only for $100+ per month forever (cameras sold separately).

Branding /Signaling

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Lest we be silly and actually analyze the specific claims inside the case study, the real marketing value comes from the branding of the party featured in the case study. This is why manufacturers rush to issue case studies about Burger King, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, etc. Even for people who hate their food, these are big chains which signals to readers that they probably made an informed decision, validating the manufacturer issuing it.

However, an individual, mom an pop restaurant creates no buzz. There's literally millions of them and hardly anyone will care what products Paulie's Pizzeria, Diego's Tacos or Bob's KC BBQ uses.

Worse, picking a small, unknown partner for a case study implies that the marketer could not get anyone more prominent and had to settle for this. This does more to signal that Genetec's VSaaS is doing poorly than well.

And the standards are higher for bigger companies. The last we heard from Genetec's marketing department they were touting / distorting themselves as the world's #1 VMS and now they are issuing a press release with a local buffet?

Who Wins?

Alas, the real winner in all this is likely Interlogix, whose partnership with TV's low rated Cake Boss now looks like gold compared to Genetec's Calgary Chinese restaurant.

In fairness, though, once Security Products runs this case study as the lead article in their next issue, Genetec's marketing department will undoubtedly have the last laugh.

3 reports cite this report:

Genetec Cloud Tested on Aug 12, 2015
Not since Axis public and prolonged agony with AVHS, has a major manufacturer bet as heavily as Genetec is now doing on the cloud. Genetec started...
Genetec Adds Free Cloud Cameras / Storage on May 19, 2015
How do you get surveillance users to buy in to the cloud? Perhaps you can give it away for free. That is the new offer that Genetec is adding for...
Genetec Hybrid Cloud Examined on Nov 19, 2014
Mass market VSaaS is a tough play, as shown in Genetec's Canadian Chinese buffet win. Now, Genetec's newest cloud release, a Hybrid Cloud...

Comments (12)

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In fairness to Genetec, this is probably the most likely customer the VSaaS market gets in terms of size. Low camera count, simple functionality and easy to access interface. (Ease of interface is speculation on my part, as I have not seen a live system in action yet, but did see a short demo at ASIS.)

What could be said is even Genetec realizes you're not really going to get mid or large size clients with this offering due to the bandwidth limits VSaaS has to work with.

The costs are higher than the kit from Costco, but even if the end user self installed and maintained, that still costs the business owner money in his/her own time spent on it. (Time is money, too.)

So then the question is if the functionality and ease of maintance and free system updates (most every hosted system with a monthly subscritpion includes updates, though I don't know about Genetec), adds enough value over the COTS kit for enough customers to use it to make it worth Genetec's investment.

If mom n pop restaurants are Genetec's target customers for Stratocast, they are more doomed than I even imagined.

Presumably, like Axis, with AVHS, ultimately their goal is chain retailers / QSRs. Genetec's RSMs and integrators are now going to switch gears for mom n pop restaurants? That's a disaster. Genetec gets all 1000+ Panda Express locations? Good business.

But this market is really competitive and what's the compelling VSaaS differentiator? They are going to have to compete against the Westecs and DTTs that offer a real service, on one side and the Cotsco kits, which will save them thousands of dollars per location.

I agree the chains are the better target, but I hope they ain't hoping for 10 or 20 camera installations per location. They're in a very narrow niche of practicallity, and I agree they have competition already. Genetec would have to leverage their name, and again, show enough value in their product above competition.

As far as I know, when Google Fiber was rolled out, they initially banned users from using it to host a "server". Apparently, this included having your home surveillance system be online. They recently loosened the definition of "server", and you can now let your DVR be exposed to the internet. Coincidentally, when I had Time-Warner Cable (the only option) in NYC, they blocked port 80 for inbound traffic. So I hosted my web server on some other port with no problems (yep, I'm THAT clever).

My thinking is that Google decided that the amount of upstream data sent from these home video systems is quite small - one camera, only on montion etc. but if you run 16 HD cameras 24/7 I am assuming you'd face some headwind with the Google. Especially if this becomes commonplace. I'm also wondering what sort of inbound traffic the Azure backend can handle. I mean YouTube must have one massive pipe coming in, but I am uploading a 2 minute clip maybe once a week. In a restaurant, I am guessing you'll be streaming video almost non-stop (or perhaps I am missing something).

I'll tip my hat any day to Genetec for going ahead with this stuff. Considering their connection with Microsoft I'm sure they have better insights than I do. Unfortunately, my free Azure dev login has expired and I am too cheap to buy a new one.

I see the real power of Statocast coming if/when you can federate the video into Security Center. I think that in the future, integration of VSaaS and local enterprise VMS will be a major deciding factor for large corporations to consider using these VSaaS types of services.

Brian, I agree that Startocast as a complement to Security Center is a better fit than Startocast alone to mom n pops.

That said, Milestone's approach of Arcus and Interconnect meets a similiar need at signifciantly lower costs and without the bandwidth constraints.

While supporting both campus and branch sites are important, usng VSaaS has little upsides and significant downsides over more traditional enterprise mangement approaches.

Brian, to answer your question. Security Center 5.2 can federate Stratocast cameras today.

You can find more information here or contact us anytime.

Thank you Jonathan. I was unaware that this integration was completed.

Websites like YouTube have multiple "massive" pipes and load balancing, but that's another story. The question of bandwidth from the client site, though has been one since VSaaS first started and is not endemic to Genetec/Azure alone.

As far as port blocking, a common feature of VSaaS is supposed to be cameras that push or initiate their streams to the destination, precluding in most instances firewall configurations and circumventing any blocks on incoming ports.

But as past partnerships wth Microsoft have shown, it's not a guarntee of success. Will be interesting to see how a relationshop with a behemoth like Microsoft and ity, bity Genetec (how often we forget the relativity of what big is when we talk about name brands in security) works out long term.

Google fiber gives you ~600 Mbps upstream, and in other parts of the world 100 MBps upstream is not uncommon for a residential subscription. Forgetting for a second that you don't have 600 MBps end to end, and certainly not 24/7, it's clearly enough to stream more than 1 camera to a server somewhere. I am well aware that many, many connections are much less than that (mine, here, is a 20/2 ADSL on copper), and a 100 MBps line is not free either (so that's another cost to consider). If I was a betting man, I'd bet that we'll see a proliferation of higher bandwidth connections in time though.

The port-blocking is not a problem in terms of sending video (or anything else for that matter), but the intent was to prevent me from hosting a web server (if I had bothered to read the terms, it is quite clear that I was in violation even if I used a different port). Naturally, I could buy the rights to host a server, but again, that's an additional cost. I can only assume that if you start streaming 20 Mbps from your restaurant, for hours on end, that your ISP will ask you to kindly upgrade your subscription to "Pro" or whatever.

For VSaas solutions, I would expect them to offer a UDP hole punch service (like google hangout, logmein and many others do), and I guess that they do. But I don't think that watching your cameras from your iPad at Starbucks once in a while is a problem to the ISPs at all. I think the issue is a customer upstreaming like crazy most of the time.

VsaaS is dead. Period. I would never recommend it over edge recording and/or somewhat local archiving. Not even for one camera.

VsaaS could work only if the customer would get 1 HD camera for free, install it across the entrance to their apartment, record 15 days in case of a 2 week holiday, and pay 4-5$ per month. For the price of in IP camera one can have a 4 camera analogue system, problem comes when the burglar will steal the DVR as well.

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