Testing Axis STS/AVHS Hosted Video (Secure-i)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 04, 2009

Axis' hosted video offering, formerly called STS, now called AVHS, is a key contender in the future of video surveillance.  Hosted video offers simpler and more accessible video surveillance solutions. It also has the potential to re-align the power structure between camera manufacturers and software suppliers as well as between security integrators and service providers. However, it is still early and there are many challenges for hosted/managed video to overcome.

Secure-i, an Axis AVHS partner, is the first company in the US to fully implement the Axis AVHS system and offer it as service. For background on Secure-i, view their product overview demos. For an overview of AVHS (Axis Video Hosting System), see Axis' brochure and application note.

In our test and analysis of the Secure-i Hosted Video Recorder / AVHS solution, we found:

  • The system required no on site setup (just plugged it in) and trivial software configuration to fully record, view and alert
  • Compared to basic/mid-level VMS systems (like Axis Camera Station), the VMS software was simplistic and limited
  • On-site recording option and future Axis camera firmware upgrades will substantially increase competitive value of the solution
  • The service has the potential to disrupt existing forces in the industry yet has 3 major limitations relative to traditional video surveillance solutions
[As always, the test was not paid by the vendor. They loaned us a unit and provided technical support.]

Secure-i HVR Product and Pricing Overview

Secure-i offers 6 basic service packages, ranging from live viewing only (no recording) to up to 30 days of centrally stored video. Per camera, per month, the MSRP of these packages range from $15 USD (for live viewing only) to $40 USD. Service fee for running a local on-site NAS device is $5 per month (requires at least $20 USD per camera package).

Secure-i sells only through partners (such as security dealers, integrators, service providers, etc.). Secure-i has two tiers of partners. Partners in Tier 1 market the solution with the Secure-i brand and Secure-i bills the end user directly for the service payment each month. Tier 1 partners profit from the sale of hardware and from an ongoing commission from the service revenue. By contrast, Tier 2 partners market the service under their own brand ("white labeled") and bill the customer directly each month for service.

Tier 1 partners have a minimum contract term of 1 year. Tier2 partners have no minimum contract term and can set their own terms. A 1 month demo is provided for customers to connect to Secure-i's demo server.

The service only supports Axis cameras. Currently, these Axis cameras use specialized firmware that is not available on generally distributed Axis cameras. However, in the next few months, all Axis cameras will have the AVHS firmware pre-loaded, enabling any Axis camera to be used within Secure-i or other AVHS solution.

For megapixel cameras, the service currently supports the 207mw and the 209MFD-R, By Q4 2009, they plan to support the 216mfd-v, 211M, 223M, and Q1755. Given the bandwidth loads of 720/1080 megapixel cameras (generally at least 1 Mb/s and often as high as 7 Mb/s), megapixel should certainly use an on-site NAS device.

In addition to cameras, the service supports NAS devices. These NAS devices come pre-loaded with AVHS firmware. Currently, Secure-i offers a 500 GB NAS device that MSRPs for $360 USD. Secure-i reports that approximately 35-40% of customers use the local NAS device. They also report that the maximum size of the NAS device offered will increase in the next few months to 1TB.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The AVHS cameras and NAS devices can automatically communicate with the central service as well as one another without setup of storage arrays, DDNS or port forwarding.

Setup and Administration

To setup, the system, all I did was power up and plug in the provided Axis camera. I then logged in to the website and it displayed a live feed of the camera in my office.

My office setup uses dynamic private IP addresses for my internal network with a dynamic public IP address from Time Warner. A fairly common setup, this normally requires me to enable port forwarding in my DLink office router and configure DDNS, etc. Neither were needed.

Once logged in, the main configuration is to configure recording and notification preferences - very similar to a DVR. A NAS device can be added and connected to cameras in the same simple manner as the cameras.

For our test, off-site storage was set for 4CIF / 5 fps (the maximum the service provides for on-site). On-site storage (using the NAS) was set at 4CIF / 15 fps.

For most applications, the availability of a NAS device eliminates upstream WAN bandwidth as a barrier. Given the low up-front cost of a NAS device and the minimal monthly service fee to use it ($5 per month), unless you were doing 1 or 2 cameras, using a NAS is the 'obvious choice'.

See screencast below:

Monitoring and Investigations

The system is simple to use but limited in functionality.

There is a live monitoring tab which lets you view cameras, control mechanical PTZs, take snapshots and record video manually. The client also supports a virtual multiplex allowing layouts of multiple cameras regardless of their physical placement.  Additionally, using IE only, the system plays audio from cameras. The client does not provide digital PTZ, mapping  or event management.

The investigation tab provides a list of video clips. These clips can be sorted based on type (alarm, manual, scheduled) and filtered by time period. There's no timeline view demonstrating when motion occurs. There's also no way to search by motion in a region. Exporting is very easy. You simply click the clip you want to export and the system exports it to your desktop.  Limitations on exporting include waiting for large clips on a local NAS device (they are first uploaded to the central server and then downloaded to the client's PC) and complexity in defining specific time frames for exporting (see screencast below).

The system does not offer 3rd party integration such as analytics, access control, ATM or PoS Integration.

Competitive Comparison to Traditional DVRs/IP Video Software

Compared to traditional DVR/NVRs, there are a number of important strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths

  • Setup is trivial, very little time and no technical expertise required on site. A low level tech can do the entire job including deploying a NAS.
  • An on-site recorder is not needed. However, if it is used, the cost of the NAS device is far lower than any DVR and far simpler to setup than typical NAS systems.
  • As with hosted video in general, the Secure-i/AVHS system is inexpensive for small camera counts and provides access anywhere on the web without having to open up holes in firewalls or use VPNS.
 
Weaknesses
  • For camera counts of more than 2-4, the total cost of ownership over a 3 to 5 year period can be significantly more than traditional solutions. For instance, an 8 camera solution using an on-site NAS will cost $165 per month or $5,940 in addition to the up-front cost of the Axis cameras and NAS device. This would be significantly more than an 8 camera analog camera plus DVR. You can certainly argue that's it better but the cost would be much higher (an 8 channel DVR would be about $3,000 and the cameras would be $100 or more less per camera).
  • Many common functionalities in DVR/VMS are lacking in Secure-i (e.g., maps, digital PTZ, event management, search tools, etc.) On the other hand, Secure-i offers enterprise management across locations and easier remote access.
  • Third party integration is missing. For many professional applications, this will be a deal-breaker. Many retailers need PoS integration, banks need ATM integration, offices need access control integration, etc.

Competitive Comparison to Envysion's Managed Video

The most relevant direct competitive comparison is Envysion (see our report on Envysion). Secure-i use of on-site NAS devices and the expansion of AVHS to support all Axis cameras will increase Secure-i's competitiveness against Envysion. The strength of Axis channel and brand will also help.

However, Envysion's deeper 3rd party integration and 3rd party IP camera support will likely make it more attractive to higher end, larger organizations with more advanced integration needs.

Ultimately, the lower end of the market will be determined on reducing prices and being capable of profitably serving the market at rates comparable to today's DVR solutions. The higher end of the market is more likely to be determined by the sophistication of 3rd party integration.

Axis AVHS Global Program and Partners

In addition to Secure-i, Axis reports 30 global partners including:

Axis Long Term Competitive Positioning

The growing portfolio of AVHS partners, the added support of on-site NAS storage and AVHS firmware standard on all Axis cameras points to the expansion of this program and potential incursion into traditional DVR/VMS solutions.

With today's pricing, the solution will have difficulty competing with 8-16 channel DVR deployments (if simply because of price). However, the prices can and will decrease (how much and how soon are open issues). 

In the next 2 to 3 years, with falling prices, it's likely that significant numbers of traditional DVR users will opt for this type of solution. As this happens, Axis will increasingly become a significant force in the video management space - primarily competing with analog manufacturers but certainly bumping into major partners like Milestone and ONSSi on multi-site, small camera count projects.

However, until and unless the service adds in broad 3rd party support, AVHS and services like Secure-I will likely not compete head to head against the core of the IP video software market - mid to large scale projects.

13 reports cite this report:

Axis Hosted Video Decade of Failure on Aug 29, 2016
Do you want to 'head up' Axis hosted video offerings? Axis almost never publicly promotes senior positions, but for such an unattractive job they...
Axis Camera Companion VMS V3 Tested on Jul 27, 2015
Axis is focusing more on their own 'end to end solutions'. Camera Companion is Axis' 'VMS killer', which is free and eliminates using traditional...
New Surveillance Products Directory Fall 2011 on Sep 21, 2011
This report provides a summary of key announcements and news being made related to or around the ASIS 2011 show.For each product or change, where...
EMC's Entry to the VSaaS Market on Aug 14, 2011
Over the last 2 years, interest in VSaaS has risen significantly yet most of the providers have been startups and small companies. Now, EMC, a ...
NLSS Competitive Positioning Examined on Mar 01, 2011
NLSS is likely the most interesting recent startup in the video surveillance market. The founder's last startup was sold to Cisco. Plus, NLSS has...
Surveillance Manufacturer Trends 2010 on Oct 24, 2010
Trends and strategies in the video surveillance market are shifting. In this report, we examine the top trends and the most interesting moves by...
Examining Pivot3's Scale Out Hosting Platform on Oct 10, 2010
Pivot3 has announced a scale out hosting platform aimed at supplying the growing number of VSaaS providers needing centralized storage. Partners...
Brivo's Hosted Video Offering Examined on May 09, 2010
While best known for their hosted access control offering, Brivo offers hosted video surveillance as well. A key differentiator for the service is...
IMS Top 10 Video Surveillance Predictions Examined on Jan 16, 2010
IMS has released Top 10 video surveillance predictions for 2010. We think it's useful to consider but important to appreciate the timing and...
Conference Attendence Continue to Drop on Jan 13, 2010
SSN is reporting that conference attendees to the US ISC East trade show continue to drop precipitously from 187 people in 2005 to only 44 people...
Forecast: 200% Growth IP Video Surveillance 2010-2012 on Nov 19, 2009
Over the next 3 years, attacks against analog CCTV will accelerate on all sides. We forecast IP video surveillance product sales will increase by...
NLSS (Next Level Security) Product Examination on Oct 30, 2009
NLSS is developing an all-in-one NVR, access control and intrusion server with built-in analytics in an appliance smaller than your cable box at a...
Home Video Surveillance Recommendations on Aug 09, 2009
In this report, we offer recommendations for selecting and deploying video surveillance in your home. Though technologically simpler than systems...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Drops Dahua, Fenner Becomes ISS CMO on Jul 09, 2018
Hired to improve Dahua's miserable marketing just last year, Janet Fenner has quit Dahua, joining VMS manufacturer ISS as Chief Marketing...
UK VSaaS Startup Ocucon on Jul 03, 2018
Decreasing exposure to fraudulent slip-and-fall insurance claims and lawsuits is one of the oldest selling points of video surveillance for retail....
GDPR For Access Control Guide on Jul 03, 2018
Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming...
Digital Watchdog Low Cost 4MP Camera Tested on Jul 02, 2018
Based on member 4MP testing requests, we bought and tested Digital Watchdog's low-cost 4MP DWC-MTT4Wi to see how it performs in real world scenes,...
Camio Wins 24,000 Camera AI VSaaS Customer on Jun 29, 2018
Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligent VSaaS startup Camio has announced it has won a 24,000 camera deal, a sizeable system for a small...
Panoramic Fisheye Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek on Jun 27, 2018
IPVM tested Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Oncam And Vivotek 12MP panoramic fisheye cameras head to head, as shown in the test setup...
Snap Surveillance Profile on Jun 26, 2018
There are not a lot of video surveillance companies that survive 9 years with only one feature that makes their product stand out. In the case of...
OpenEye Apex VMS Tested on Jun 26, 2018
OpenEye is a US company, founded nearly 20 years ago. In the past few years, OpenEye has been one of a few VMS providers that have pivoted to being...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis ~$100 Camera Tested on Jul 17, 2018
Axis has released their lowest cost camera ever, the Companion Eye Mini L, setting their sights on a market dominated by Hikvision and Dahua. Can...
Amazon Ring Alarm System Tested on Jul 16, 2018
Amazon Ring is going to hurt traditional dealers, and especially ADT, new IPVM test results of Ring's Alarm system underscore. IPVM found that...
Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques on Jul 16, 2018
Hikvision has won a Chinese government tender which requires that facial recognition cameras be set up at the entrance of every single mosque...
Installing Dome Cameras Indoors Guide on Jul 16, 2018
IPVM is producing the definitive series on installing surveillance cameras. This entry covers one of the most common scenarios - installing dome...
Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact