Salient Systems VMS Overview

By Ethan Ace, Published Nov 02, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

Recently, we have received a number of questions about Texas, USA based VMS provider Salient Systems. Less known compared to other VMS players, one of their aims and possibly strongest differentiator is making the transition from analog to IP easier and much less expensive than competitive options.  In this update, we will examine their product line, and how it compares to other lines such as Exacq and Milestone.

Product Overview

The line has 3 tiers with a traditional server and client component (both Windows application and browser-based). The client includes alarm monitoring, and mapping. The 3 tiers difers as follows:

  • ONE [link no longer available] ($125/camera MSRP): The entry-level version of CompleteView, ONE is capable of managing up to 32 cameras on a single server.
  • Pro [link no longer available] ($225/camera): CompleteView Pro is capable of viewing an unlimited number of cameras on an unlimited number of servers.
  • Enterprise [link no longer available] ($250/camera): The top-tier of the CompleteView line, Enterprise has the same capacities for cameras and servers and Pro, completely unlimited. At this level, however, further functionality is added, including active directory integration and multi-server configuration. Enterprise also adds a feature called Structured Views, which is essentially a flexible way of sorting cameras, maps, layouts, and other entities, instead of simply sorting them with the recorder they are associated with.

Salient's CompleteView is available as software only, or pre-installed on Salient's line of purpose-built recording servers [link no longer available]. These servers are available in varying capacities, from small desktop recorders to 3U rack mount servers with on-board RAID, with analog as well as IP-only capability.

Salient's products are available only through certified integrators, not through distribution or direct to end users. Currently this channel consists of about 200 integrators, along with partnerships with a handful of large, national integrators.

Analog Camera Support

In an attempt to make conversion of legacy systems simpler and more affordable, Salient offers analog as well as IP licenses. Analog licenses are sold in blocks of four, and include an analog capture card in the cost of the license, at no additional cost. So, instead of deploying encoders, the end user may directly attach cameras to the same server their IP cameras are being recorded by. Should a user upgrade these analog cameras to IP at a later date, the license may be converted to IP at no cost by returning the capture card to Salient. 

Dynamic Resolution Scaling

Another potentially useful feature found CompleteView is Dynamic Resolution Scaling [link no longer available]. Simply put, this feature restreams video at varying resolutions depending on how large the viewing window is, and how many cameras are displayed at a time. So each camera displayed in a 4x4 view, for instance, may use a stream a fraction of the size of a full-screen view. This is intended to save substantial bandwidth, especially for remote viewing clients. Additionally, it can reduce load on client viewing stations.

Third Party Integration

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Salient supports a moderate list of third-party cameras [link no longer available]. The list is not as exhaustive as some competitors, but support for all major camera lines is present. Integrations to multiple third-party access control systems have also been created. S2, RS2, and Software House are among the lines supported. Third-party integration is supported across all versions of CompleteView.

Cameras which have not been specifically integrated to CompleteView may be added via generic HTTP or RTSP drivers. Salient currently does not support ONVIF, though it is being considered for future releases. Salient feels that the bulk of integration their users desire is capture of the video stream, which can be accomplished via RTSP.

Competitive Comparison

The most direct comparison for Salient is Exacq, perhaps the most commonly used platform supplied as appliances as well as software only. Comparing CompleteView ONE licensing ($125/camera) with Exacq's exacqVision Start and Milestone Essential, both $49 per camera, Salient's entry-level offering is about a 250% increase in price. CompleteView ONE notably contains mapping and third-party integration capabilities, not found on most low-end offerings. However, moving to XProtect Express ($99) adds third-party integration capability, still at a price point 20% lower than Salient's.

The high end of the line is roughtly comparable in pricing to the high-end offerings of competitors, such as Genetec Enterprise ($250/channel) and Milestone Corporate ($300/channel). Unlike many competitors, however, Salient has no base license costs, which results in hundreds or thousands of dollars in reduced costs, depending on version. Again, however, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, as Salient does not have Genetec's edge recording or redundancy capabilities, just as an example.

Applications

While Salient may be workable in many applications, undoubtedly the most attractive application is in upgrades of existing analog systems. Since analog licenses come with capture cards, Salient has a substantial pricing advantage over competitors who do not offer this. Users selecting IP-only providers would need to purchase encoders in addition to camera licenses required.

Lack of ONVIF support and substantial third-party integrations to cameras and other systems may be a negative for some users, though RTSP support for generic streams does overcome some of these issues. Compared to competitors, outside of the analog takeovers mentioned above, there is little to differentiate Salient from the pack. 

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