Testing Genetec Security Center 2014

By Ethan Ace, Published Jul 23, 2014, 12:00am EDT

This is IPVM's first in a series of all new, in-depth test reports on video management software.

[UPDATE 2019: New Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested]

We start with Genetec's Security Center. Here's a 50 second video overview:

Inside this report are 40 minutes of video screencasts break down live monitoring, investigations, configuration, administration and access control integration.

Live View

In the following videos we review live operations using the Security Desk client. This first video demonstrates some of the complexity issues of Genetec compared to other VMSes, which contribute to it being more appropriate for "power" users than untrained or occasional use, including:

  • Terminology used is different and more complex than many VMSes. "Operation" instead of a simple "Live View" menu, for example.
  • Large numbers of Tasks presented to users upon initially opening the client may be overwhelming because of differences in terminology.
  • Tabbed interface which allows multiple instances of common tasks to run simultaneously. Good for skilled users, but potentially confusing for the untrained, who may accidentally open multiple tabs.

Aside from these complexities, live monitoring is fairly similar to other VMSes once in use, with typical split screen views, recorded video timeline integrated to camera panels, and other typical controls.

One novel feature is Visual Tracking, which allows an area of video to be highlighted and made clickable, allowing the user to switch quickly to adjacent cameras when following a subject. This is not commonly found in VMSes.

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Access Integration

Though this report focuses on using Genetec for video surveillance, Security Center offers tight integration of access with video, as well as intrusion detection, analytics, or other event sources. This video, from our Genetec and Milestone Access report, reviews access operations and integration.

Archived Video Search

Searching archived video is one of the more complex tasks in Genetec, due to a large number of options and different terminology.

  • Four types of search (archive, bookmark, motion, and camera events) are offered, with some confusion as to which is which.
  • Video search is presented as a "report", with a listing of clips which users must select before video starts to play.
  • Video is not synchronized by default, potentially confusing when viewing multiple cameras which may be playing back from different times.
  • "Motion Search" does not simply search for motion events on the camera. Instead, it searches for pixel changes in the camera's field of view, not pre-indexed. To simply search for motion, users should use "Camera Events" search for "Motion On" events.

Camera Configuration via Config Tool

Camera configuration is fairly similar to other VMSes, with some added complexity.

  • Cameras are added as "video units" with the camera nested beneath them. Multiple input units such as encoders or panoramic cameras display more than one nested camera.
  • Resolution, frame rate, and quality may be set directly from Config Tool, with specific control of all settings. 
  • Multiple stream types may be assigned for each camera, assuming it supports more than one stream, for uses such as Live, Recording, Remote, etc. 

Server Admin

The final application used for configuration is Server Admin, a web-based tool used to monitor services and database status, modify licensing, and set up alert emails, etc. 

Camera Integration

Genetec has an extensive supported device list of thousands of devices, including cameras, encoders, DVRs, third party VMSes, and more. Integrations are performed and tested internally, as well as by partners. Edge recording is supported on cameras from nine different manufacturers. Finally, both Omnicast and Security Center are ONVIF Profile S conformant.

Security Center vs. Omnicast

For video surveillance, users may choose to use either Security Center or Omnicast. Each is a different license with different applications which must be installed, but pricing is the same. The featureset and clients of both are nearly the same, and Omnicast only systems may be federated into Security Center.

Note that the video features in Security Center are also referred to as Omnicast, which may cause some confusion.

Licensing Costs

Omnicast MSRP pricing is as follows for base and camera licenses respectively:

  • Omnicast Standard: $590 base/$150 USD per camera, up to 50 cameras and one archiver
  • Omnicast Professional: $1,130 base/$230 per camera, up to 100 cameras and 10 archivers
  • Omnicast Enterprise: $3,650 base/$250 per camera, unlimited cameras and archivers

The main difference in licensing level is the number of cameras and servers, as noted above, though some advanced features (failover, Active Directory integration, advanced SDK integrations) are available only using Pro or Enterprise. 

Dealer discounts range from about 15-35% depending on partner level.

Restricted Channel

Genetec sells only through authorized partners, with no sales through distribution, which is common among many VMSes. Further, they are known for keeping their channel geographically restricted, with a relatively small number of dealers in a region.

Genetec's partner program is tiered, with higher discounts and services available to partners meeting greater sales and training commitments, detailed on their Channel Partners page [link no longer available]. 

Maintenance Costs

Yearly maintenance, referred to by Genetec as a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA), costs 10-20% depending on which software package is used, with higher end versions costing more in support.

Without purchasing an SMA, users may still receive tech support and service releases. However, version upgrades (5.2 to 5.3, or 5.X to 6.X) are available only to those with a valid SMA. Those purchasing an SMA also have priority in the call queue over customers without, and options such as remote and on-site support.

Features Not Covered

Genetec has numerous advanced features, many beyond the scope of this test, including, but not limited to:

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