VMS Health Monitoring Shootout

By: Sarit Williams, Published on Sep 18, 2013

Monitoring the health of video surveillance systems is critical to ensuring reliability and eliminating the security risks of outages. VMS software, as the central component of viewing, recording and managing video is typically looked at for monitoring the health of the overall system. However, what features do these VMSes provide?

Which VMSes are better or worse at health monitoring? In this report, we share the results of our study.

We tested Milestone, Genetec, Avigilon, Exacq, Network Optix / Digital Watchdog, and Video Insight VMSes.

11 Key Differentiators

Our testing revealed 11 differentiators:

  • Views Offered: The main options included (1) real time dashboards, (2) exceptions, (3) statistics and (4) logs. Some offered only one of these with others offered 2 or 3 of these options.
  • Default Rules: Whether fundamental rules were activated out of the box or required user setup.
  • Server Down Rule: Whether the VMS allowed for notifications if the VMS was down.
  • Camera Rules: Whether the VMS notified if cameras were down and what type of details were offered.
  • Storage, Database and Network Problem Rules on these specific low level issues
  • Communication Methods: Whether the VMS offered client onscreen notifications, Email, SMS/Text, and/or System Logs.
  • Reporting Options: What VMS allowed for - HTML, CSV, and/or PDF (or none).
  • Maintenance Mode: Whether the VMS allows temporarily turning off notifications when scheduled maintenance is being performed.
  • Server Independence: Whether the VMS ran health monitoring as part of the server or separately so it can still notify even in case of a VMS server problem.

********** *** ****** ** video ************ ******* ** critical ** ******** *********** and *********** *** ******** risks ** *******. *** software, ** *** ******* component ** *******, ********* and ******** ***** ** typically ****** ** *** monitoring *** ****** ** the ******* ******. *******, what ******** ** ***** VMSes *******?

***** ***** *** ****** or ***** ** ****** monitoring? ** **** ******, we ***** *** ******* of *** *****.

** ****** *********, *******, Avigilon, *****, ******* ***** / ******* ********, *** Video ******* *****.

11 *** ***************

*** ******* ******** ** differentiators:

  • ***** *******: *** **** ******* included (*) **** **** dashboards, (*) **********, (*) statistics *** (*) ****. Some ******* **** *** of ***** **** ****** offered * ** * of ***** *******.
  • ******* *****:******* *********** ***** **** activated *** ** *** box ** ******** **** setup.
  • ****** **** ****: ******* *** *** allowed *** ************* ** the *** *** ****.
  • ****** *****: ******* *** *** notified ** ******* **** down *** **** **** of ******* **** *******.
  • *******, ******** *** ******* Problem ******* ***** ******** *** level ******
  • ************* *******: ******* *** *** offered ****** ******** *************, Email, ***/****, ***/** ****** Logs.
  • ********* *******: **** *** ******* for - ****, ***, and/or *** (** ****).
  • *********** ****: ******* *** *** allows *********** ******* *** notifications **** ********* *********** is ***** *********.
  • ****** ************: ******* *** *** ran ****** ********** ** part ** *** ****** or ********** ** ** can ***** ****** **** in **** ** * VMS ****** *******.

[***************]

**** ** *** *** 11 *** *************** ******** across *****:

  • ***** *******:** ********** * ***** of *****. *** ***** is * **** **** dashboard **** ** ******* by *********, *** ******* Optix/Digital ******** (****** *** as ******** ** *********'*). The **** ** *** VMSes ******* * ********** of **** **** **** of **********, **** (********, Video *******, *** *****) and **** **** ********** (Genetec *** *********).
  • ******* *****: ******* *****/******* ********, and ********* **** **** 6 **** ****** ******* rules (**/** ******* ******** ones, ***** ********* ******* generic ******** *** ******* to **). *** ***** VMSes ******** ** ************* to ********* **** *** basic **** *** *** implementation (**** ** ******* up/down (***** ******* *******) or ****** ******).
  • ****** **** ****:*** ** *** **** critical ****. ********, ***** Insight (***** ** *** on), ******* *****/******* ********, Milestone *** ******* ***** server **** *****, *** Exacq **** *** (****** Enterprise *** ********* ** app ** ****).
  • ****** *****:*** ***** ***** ****** events, *** ******* ********* by ********* **** (********* stopped ** ****** **** camera).
  • ******* *****:******* *****/******* ********, *********, Avigilon, ***** ******* (****** to ***** ****** ****) and ******* ***** ***** related ** *******. ***** does ***.
  • ******** *****:***** ******* ****** * limited ***'* ******* *****. While *** **** ** the ***** ***** ******** database ******* ****** **** the ********* ** ***** offering ** ******** ******* errors.
  • ******* ****** ****:******* *****/******* ********, ******* and ********* **** ******* lost *******, ***** ********, Video *******, ******* *** notify **** *** ****** or ******* *** *** reachable.
  • ************* *******:***** *** * ************ types: ****** ******** *************, Email (*** *****), ***/****, and ****** ****. *** VMSes ******* **** **** of ****** ************* **** the ********* ** ***** (action ******* ****). ******* in ********* (************ *** Enterprise) *** ***** ************. All ***** ******* ****** logs.
  • *********:****, ***, *** *** were *** **** ****** types ****** *** *****. However, *** ******* ******** 2 *****: ****-**** ********* and *********** *******. ********* offers **** **** *********** reports ** ***. ******* offers ***, ***, *** Excel. ***** ******* ****** an **** ******** ****, while ******* *****/******* ******** (CSV, ****), ******** (***), and ***** ***** ** statistical ******* (**** ****** log **** ****).
  • *********** ****: ******* *** *** only *** ** ***** a '*********** ****' ***** notifications *** ********** ** informational ****** ******* ********. The **** ******** ***** to ****** ******* *** server ***** ** ** (Video *******), ** *****: disable **** *** ***** rule ************ *** ********** once *********** ** ********* or ****** ********* **** many *************.
  • ****** ************:****** ******* (**) ****** be **** ** ******* both ******* *** ******* and *** ***** ** the **** ****** ** is ***** ** ******. Avigilon, *****, ******* (******** engine), ********* (**** ** Corporate/Expert), *** ******* *****/******* Watchdog *** ******* *** HM ***** **** ******- server **** ****, ** do *** *************. ***** insight *** ***** ***** an ******** ******** ******* HM **** *** ****** on * ******** ****** (if ********* ** **** server ******* **** ** like **** ** *****, otherwise **** ******** * different ****** ** ** which ** ***** ****) Milestone ****** ** *********** Browser ***** *********.

**** ** ** ******** summary ** ********:

***** *******'* ****** ******* application ** ******** ** VMS **** *** *****'* Enterprise ****** *******'* **** is $***. *********'* ********** customer ********* ** ********* to **********, ************, *******, and *********. *** **** of *** ***** ** not **** *** ********** cost ********** **** ****** Monitoring.

Views *********

************** *********** *** ********** the ****** ** ***** security *********** **** **** a *** ** ************ view *** ******** ********** via * ********* ********* or * ****** *********. It ****** ***** ** be **** ** ******* identify ***** ***** *** or **** ***** ***** to ******* *** **** immediate ******.

********* (*********) ******* **** both *** ******** ***** and ********** ****** ********** from ****** ** ********** applications ** * *** screen **** (**. ********* areas ** ** *** rest ** *** *****). This *********** ******* ********* design ******** *** **** to **** *** ********* accessible ** *** ***** to ****** (*********), ***** as *** ***** ***** show ********** (********).

***** ******** ** ********* offer * ******* ******** via * *** ***** as ****:

******* *****/******* ******** ******* realtime **** ** ***, RAM, *** ******* ********, and *** ***** ********. The **** **** ** client ************ **** ** logs *** * **** of '******' *** **********.

******** ******* * **** limited **** **** ****** page **** *********** **** can ** **** **** the ***** ********* ******'* Task ******* ******* **** added ****** ********** ***********:

***** *******'* ****** ********** pop-up ****** ******* ********* current *********** ******* **** CPU/RAM ** ****** ** current ******* ***** *** bandwidth **** *** ******* in ***, ***** *** pop-up ** * **** like ******* **** *** be ******. ** **** require *** **** ** have *** ***-** ****** visible ****** ** ******** any ****** ** ***** rules.

******* ****** * ****** Monitor **** ** ******** accessed **** **** ******** Desk's ************ **** ** the ****** ****. *** information *** ** ********, but ********* ** * grid **** **** ********* the **** ** **** through ********, ******, ** informational ********. *******, ***** messages **** ***** **** low ***** ** ****** such **: "*/**/**** *:**:** AM * ********* ********** for **** *********** *** not ** *****. ***** stability *** *********** *** not **********. ******* *** following ******** ** **** order: ********* **** *********. They *** ** ***** on **** ************ *** under *** **** \********\*********".

***** ****** ** ************* for ****** ********** ****** via ***** *********, ***** than *** ***** *** system *** ***** *** informational *** ****** ***** appear *** * ***** Monitoring **** ***** *** actions ** ***** ****** would ** *********. **** is * ****** *****:

Default *****

**** **** *** ************ there *** ***** ***** any *** *** *********** and ********* ***** ****, those ******* *** ******** components ** * ******** system: *******, *******, ******* and ******* *******. ******* the ************* ** *** administrator *** ****** ** errors ***** **** ********* the **** ** ***** rules, ********* ** ******** configuration ****.

********* ******* * ***** rules **** ** ****** settings, *** *** ******, none ******** ** ******** components ********** *********. ******* Optix/Digital ********, *** ******** offered *** **** ***** specifically ********** *** ******** components ** **** ******* of ******** ***** *** be ******* ***** ****** the ****** ******* ***********, saving ****.

*******, *** ***** **** the ***** ** *** offering **** ** *** critical ********** *************/***** ******* configured. ***** ******* ******* ****** **/**** *** up, *** ******* *** Exacq ***** * ***** loss ** ****** **** label ** ******'* ****** pane.

Rules ********

**** ** *** ***** offered * ******* ** available *****, **** ***** and ***** ******* ***** the **** *******. *****'* Event ****** *********** **** mostly ******* *** ********* rules ***** ** ****** type: '***** ****' *** Analog *** "** ****** Connection' *** ** *******, but *** *** ****** would ** *** **** for *** *** ****- loss ** ***** ** why ****** *** ******** rules?

*****'* ***** ******* ****** to ***** ****** ****, server ******, ******* (*********, packet ****, ***) *** Database ******. **** * event ***** ******* **** video **** ** *********. They ** ******* ***** the ******* ** ******* alerts ** **** ****** to *********** ******** **** devices, *** ********** ***** to ******* ***** ******** (good ** ***** ***** errors).

***** *******'* ***** **** limited, **** ***** ***** external ****** ******* ***** 2 ********** **** *****: warning *** *****. ********, the ************* **** ******* to ****** **** ** cameras **/**** ******.

*********, *******, ******** *** Network *****/******* ******** ******* a **** **** ** rules ******** *** ** the ****** *** **** more ****, **** **********, will ****** *** **** is ********* ********.

*********

**** ** *** ***** offered **** **** ** reports ** **** ****** to ****** **********. ********* offered *** **** ******* reports *** **** **** statistical ******** ** **** servers *** ******* *** built *** *****, ****** and ** **** ********* utilizing ***** ** ****** graphs *** **** (***). Network *****/******* ******** ****** both * *** *** an **** ****** (***** Insight ** ****). ******* offers *** **** **** options *** *** ****: CSV, ***** *** *** formats (******** ** ****). Exacq *** *** ***** by ******** * ***** text **** ****** ** their *** ****.

Maintenance ****

******* ****** * *********** mode ** *** ****** Monitor **** ******** *** all ***** ** ******** server **** ** ****** down ****** ** ** downgraded ** ************* ********; thus ************* *** ********* for ******** ********* ******* affecting ********** *********** *******. Users ***** **** ** disable **** *** ***** rule ************ ** ****** a **** ** ******/************* in *** ***** *****, making ** ********* ** decipher ***** *** **** alarms *** ***** *** bogus ******** ** ********* clear ******* *************.

External ****** ******* ******

***** ******* (******** ** the **** ** ***), Exacq (**** ** $***), and ********* (******** ** SUP) **** *** **** VMSes **** ******* ** external ****** ******* *********** of *** ****** ***** and *** ******** ****** itself. **** ** ********** beneficial ** ***** ***** the *** ****** ** having ******* ****** ** a ***** ****** *** isn't **********, *** ****** monitor *** ***** **** notifications. *** ***** *** Video ******* ** **** however ******* * ******** server ******** ** ******* the ** *** **** involve ********** **** *** maintenance. *********'* ********* ** is ******* ***** *** resides ** ***** *****.

*********

********* (*********, *** ******) outperformed ** ******** * clearly ********* ********* ********** via ********** ** ****** applications. *** ********* ******* displays *** ******* *** servers *** **** ***** current ****** ***** **** a ********** **** *** each. ********, **** ***** a **** ** ***** for ********, ******, ******* and ******* ******. ******** those ******** ***** ** default ***** ** ** added ****** *******. **** is ********* *** ****** *** servers.

*********'* ******** ******** (********* 17, ****) ***********' ******** dashboard ******* ********* ***** competitive ********* ****. ** does *** ******* *** own ****** *** ** completely ******* *****. **** new ********* **** ***** integrators ** ****** *** customer's *******, *******, *******, and ***** ******** **********. This **** ********* *** need ** ***** ***** on **** ****** ******** the **** *** ******* configuration. *******, **** ******** paying *** ************** ****** ******* ** ******* ** Milestone's ************ ******** **** (Enterprise, ************, *******, *** Essential), *** ********* ************* where *** ****** ********* is ********* *** * certification ******* ** ******** to ***.**** ** *********'* ******** video.

**** ** * ********** of *** *** ********** dashboard:

**** ** ** ******** video:

Video *******

***** *******'* *** ***** health ********** ***** ************ and *********** *******. ** does ***** * ******** Server ********** ***** *** pop-up **** ***** **/**** time ** *** ******* and ***** ****** ** failures, ****** ** ******* at *** ** ** the ******* **** **** or ***** (*******/*******/********?). ***********, it ****** *** ******* rule **** ******* *** up/down *** * ***-** notifying ****** ** ***** only. **** ***** * storage '****** ** ***** error" **** **** ** buried ** ****** *** and *** ***** ***** into *** *** **** no ******** ** ****** monitoring **** ***** (****** control, */*, ****** *********, etc). **** ** ******* have ** ******** ****** Monitor *********** **** *** be ********* ** * separate ****** **** ****** (We *** ******** ****** Reference ****** *** ******** errors **** ********** ** use) **** ******, *** camera ******. **** ********* ** **** **** report ** *** ******* status.

**** ** ** ******** video:

Network *****/******* ********

******* *****/******* ******** ****** a ***** ******** ***** display (*** ** ****** while ********** **** *****) of ****** ***** **** as ***, *** *** storage ********. ** *** all ************* ****** **** from *** **** ****** view **** *** ** quickly ******** ** **** any ********. ** * default **** **** ***** 6 ***** ******** *** critical ****** ********** **** as ******, *******, *******, network *** ***** ******- all * **** *** to ** ** ********* email ****** *** *** system ** *** *********. It **** ******* **** statistical ******* *** *** other ******** *** ********* in *** **** **** requiring *******, ********* *** searching *******.* ****** *** ** exported ** ****** **** or ***.

**** ** ** ******** video:

********

******** ** ******** ********* based. ** *** ** dashboard ** ****** ******* overview ** ****** ******. Notifications **** ***** *** user *** *** ****** interface (** *****), *** there ** * **** limited ****** ****** *********** (CPU, ******, ******* ******). They ** ******* ***** quite * *** ***** (unlimited ** **********, * in ******** *** **** in ****) **** ***** the ******** ****** ********** mentioned.**** ***** * *** export ** *** ****** stats.

**** ** ** ******** video:

*******

******* ******** ****** ****** lots *** **** ** actions (*** *****) ******** both ******* *** ***** to *** ****** ******** and ******* ******. *******, the ***** ********* ** the **** **** *** of **** *********** ** would ** ************* ** still **** *********; **** like ***** *** * notification **** ******* * single ******** ********. **** do ***** * ****** Statistics **** (*****) **** percentages ** **/**** ******** by **** ***** ******** for ********** ********. *******, those ***** **** ** be ******** ** *****, or ******* ******* ** create * ********* **************. You ********* ***** ******* ** excel, ***, *** ***** delimited *****.

**** ** ** ******** video:

*****

***** ************ ** **** limited *** ***** ** difficult *** ***** ** gauge *** ****** ** their ******* ** * proactive ******. ********, ***** would **** ** ***** time ******* ** *****; of ***** *** **** limited, *** ******** *** Database, *******, ** ****** down ******. ************* ** available *** ****** ** SMS/Text *** ** ****** side ** ****** ************ of ****** ******* ***** to ****** * **** listing ** ************* ******** not *********** ******* ** critical ****** ********** ******. Exporting ** ****** ******* is ******* *** ****** *** ****** of * **** **** (.log).

*****'* ********** ******* ****** a ***** ******** **** with * ******* ****** that **** **** *******, Cameras, *** ******* ******, while ******** ***** ** right ***** *** **** the ***** ****** ** a **** ***.

***** **** ****** * stand ***** ********** ****** Manager (***) *** ** added $*** (*** ********** editions ****) **** *** main ********** **** ** can ******* ******* ******* at ****, ***** ***** be ****** *** ***** many *********/*******.

**** ** * ********** of *** *******:

*** ** *** *** see *****, *** ***** selection ** ******* ** what ** ******* ***** in ** ************:

**** ** ** ******** video:

health-monitoring-exacq

*** ******** ******

  • ******* ******** ****** ******* Server/Client *.*.****.**** ***
  • ********* ********** ******* ********** server ******* *.**/****** *.** and ********* ****
  • ******** ******/****** *.*.*.**
  • ***** ******/****** ******* *.*.*.*****
  • ******* *****/******* ******** ******/****** version *.*.*
  • ***** ******* ******* *.*.**.* and ** *.*

Comments (14)

Great feature comparison Sarit. It is nice to see how each feature stacks up and what people think of them.

I'm curious to know waht people indeed expect out of HM?

1) What is your typical instalation looks like?
2) What HM you indeed do/need?

Why did you not put Vunetrix into this comparison?

Because we were testing the health monitoring capabilities of VMS systems, not third party add-ons. We do have two posts on Vunetrix (see 1 and 2). We may consider Vunetrix in future comparisons / tests but members are overall clearly more interested in knowing what is (or is not) included in VMS software itself.

Great stuff- this is an evolving industry that will have two clear choices- small / medium systems and enterprise systems. The health monitoring that VMS systems will offer looks like a great fit for the small to medium business market.

Vunetrix has a majority of large customer installs 1000+ Cameras 100+ Servers. What I have found is that smaller systems typically do not review the data no matter how easy it is. If something breaks the health monitoring logs that information than that can be great asset to the integrator / manufacture to troubleshoot.

A gap will continue to exist between health monitoring on the VMS side and traditional IT Network Monitoring (which is basically what Vunetrix does). No matter how ‘easy’ the IT network/ health monitoring it is inherently more complex because of the size, setup and configuration of network devices to communicate properly to the NMS (Network Management System).

If ever there was a surveillance feature that belonged in the cloud, health monitoring is it! (kudos to Milestone). A health monitor on the machine being monitored seems silly, as does asking users with only one or two machines to dedicate an additional one for this sole purpose.

Dear Sarit,

Very useful shoot out exercise and the report. I think one more Health notification could be added "its performance SLA indicator within the system"

Thanks, Krish

I'm curius to why SNMP is not mentioned in this aspect?

The information that is directly affecting the CCTV system like camera up/down, loss of video stream etc. is good to have available in the operators domain.

Stuff like CPU load, memory usage and network trends is more IP network and server management tha is in to the IT departments area of competence.

On the HMs that provide a notification on "Server Down" and "Camera Down" do any provide a notification when the server is powered on again or when video is restored?

Hi John,

Sorry for the delayed response. Yes, each of the VMSes offered rules that can notify via the respective methods (email/client notification/SMS) when a lost connection has been restored.

Sarit,

No problem on the delay.

Just to be clear, you said they can notify "when a lost connection has been restored." For both camera and the recorder coming back online?

Yes for both server and cameras though usually those two actions are separated by having to setup 2 rules for example.

On the three HMs that offer an "external" client that runs somewhere besides the server, is port forwarding required if that client is at a different location than the server?

Yes, If the servers are located behind a firewall or a NAT router you always need to forward the ports used. For example, Video Insight would be port 11,000.

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