Surveon Milestone NVR Examined

By Ethan Ace, Published Jan 05, 2012, 07:00pm EST

Surveillance manufacturer Surveon has announced a series of hardware appliances preloaded with Milestone XProtect. Starting with the EMR9000 line, this series is intended to be quicker to deploy and offer better performance than COTS options. In this update we will take a look at this offering, its pricing and how it compares to existing options such as Intransa.

Product Overview

The EMR9000 consists of two parts: the "head", a single rack space server, and a RAID storage subsystem, either direct-attach or iSCSI. For single server systems, direct-attached storage is typically used. The iSCSI model is available for multiple-server systems, or when a larger storage pool is desired.

Server and storage specs are as follows:

  • The EMR9000 head is equipped with a Xeon Quad Core processor with 4GB RAM (expandable to 24GB), as well as dual redundant power supplies. It also contains local drives, reserved for operating system and VMS software, separate from the RAID array. Two GbE ports are provided for connection to multiple networks, along with four ports to connect to iSCSI storage, as well as a SAS expansion port for direct connection to the RAID array.
  • The RAID subsystem is available in 12-, 16-, and 24-bay models, and supports up to 3TB hard disk drives, for a raw capacity of 72TB. Numerous RAID levels are supported, including 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, and beyond. All RAID units are equipped with dual power supplies and fans for redundant operation.

The most noteworthy feature of this release is its Milestone XProtect pre-load. All units ship with the user's choice of Milestone version (Essential through Corporate) installed. Currently, no other VMS platforms are offered, though Surveon is considering this in the future. In Greater China, the NVR also ships pre-licensed, since Surveon is an authorized Milestone Partner in the region. However, in the rest of the world, the user must purchase licenses separately and apply them as needed. This differs from other NVR appliance manufacturers, such as Intransa and Pivot3. Intransa, for example, ships with a USB key with VMS software, which then must be installed by the user. Using the Surveon appliance, however, no software installation work should be required, simply application of licenses, which should decrease deployment time further.

Pricing for the Surveon NVR will vary widely depending on configuration factors, such as internal or external drives, number of chassis required, and more. A typical unit, an EMR9000 with a 24-bay RAID unit, for example, has an MSRP of $10,200 USD. Hard drives are not included, but Surveon does supply 1-3 TB disks separately.

Competitive Options

The most direct comparison for the Surveon NVR is Intransa's VideoAppliance line, though differense exist. Surveon is currently focused only on loading Milestone on these appliances, whereas Intransa has a list of two dozen or more partners which they are able to supply with the appliance. However, as mentioned above, Intransa requires software installation, where the EMR9000 does not.

The closest comparison to the EMR9000 in Intransa's line would be a CVA320 VideoAppliance with a VA Expander direct-attach expansion chassis, for a total of 24 drive bays. Pricing compares as follows:

  • Surveon EMR9000, 24 HDD bays ($11,500) + 24 2TB HDD (~$200 ea) = $16,300
  • Intransa CVA320 ($17,000) + 24TB VA Expander ($13,800) = $30,800

Surveon offers a signficant cost savings on hardware over Intransa, while also saving 1-2 hours in software installation due to the software pre-load.

Surveon, like Intransa, runs a proprietary storage manager service. It is difficult to compare the two's performance, and guesswork at best, as neither company's performance claims have been independently verified.

Concerns / Issues

Savings are limited to users needing the storage levels provided in the EMR9000. If a user only needed 12 bays, the savings/price advantage of Surveon would diminish relative to the numerous product options that Milestone offers.

Beyond this, the main general concerns with Surveon are reliability and support. Commodity suppliers such as Dell and HP have a long, established track record. Intransa, while much younger, also has thousands of installations, and established pre- and post-sales support departments. Surveon, being relatively unknown in much of the world, does not instill the same confidence in their product nor have an equivalent track record especially in the Americas or Europe. However, we expect some users will be attracted to the price and if they are advanced enough can compensate for potential deficiencies in support/assistance.

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