VMS Camera Management Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hanwha, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix

By Sean Patton, Published Oct 29, 2018, 10:35am EDT

Camera setup, configuration and maintenance are the most common tasks when managing a surveillance system.

Who does it best and worst? Who offers the most features and capabilities and who the least?

We tested 8 manufacturers - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hanwha, Hikvision, Milestone, and Network Optix to find out:

In this test we scored VMSes based on 9 criteria, grading them bad, average and good:

Inside, we detail the full results including who won and lost and how the systems performed across each of the 9 categories, including 7 video screencasts, one for each manufacturer in the shootout.

Performance ********

***** ** *** *****, VMS ****** ********** *********** falls **** ***** ******:

  • **** ***********:******** *** ******* **** the *** **********. ******** scored ******** ** ******* in *** ** *** criteria, ***** ******* ****** poorly ** ****** *********, but *** * ****** results ****** ********'* *.
  • ******* ***********:******* ***** (*** *** Hanwha ***) ********* *********** in *** ** *** categories, **** ** *********** in ************ ** *** tested ****** ********** ********. Milestone **** ****** ******** in * **********, *** average ** *, *** scored ****** ** ******** Management *** **** ** Adjusting ****** ********.
  • ***** ***********:***** *** ********* ****** poorly ** * **********, Exacq ****** ** *. Of ***** * *****, only ***** ****** ******** in * ****** ******** Camera ****** *** *********. Exacq *** ********* ****** average ** *** ********* categories.

*** **** ********, *********** rankings **** ***** **** common ***** ********* **** installing, ********, *** *********** a ***. ***** ********* of *********** *** ****** cameras, *********** *******, ******** firmware, ******* *** ************* logs, ****** *********** *** camera ********* *** ************.

Summary ** *******

***** ****** **** *** full ******* *** **** Camera ********** ******* ********. Some ** *** ******** like "****** *********" *** "Camera ****** ******/*****" ****** average ** ****** ** most ** *** *****, while "****** *********** *******" and "******** ********** *** average ** **** **** almost *** ** *** VMSes ** *** ****.

Key ***************

*** ********* ********** **** areas **** ****** *** most ******** ******* *****:

  • ****** *********: ***** **** ** quickly *** ************* ****** cameras ** * *********** task ** * ***. While **** ***** ****** average ** ******** ** this ********, *** ********** between *** ********* ********** (Avigilon, ******* *****, ******) and *** ******* ********* (Genetec) *** ***********.
  • ******** **********: ** ** ********* that * *** *** update *** ****** ******** versus ****** ** ******* to **** ******'* *** interface ** *** * separate ****** ************ ***********. Being **** ** ****** known *************** ** ****** firmware ** **** ***** IPVM ** ******* **************** *******.
  • ****** ****** ****: * ***** ****** at * ***** ** table *** ******* ** malfunctioning ******* ** ***** when *********** *** ***. Being **** ** ****** and ************* ***** ***** charts ** * *** schedule (*.*., ***** ****** morning ***** *** ** error ****** **** *** weekend) ******** ** * strong ***** ****** *******.
  • ****** ***** *******: ******** ******* ********** cameras ** ***** **********, frame *****, *** ********* configuration ** ***********. ******* with *** ****** ******** and *******, **** *** be ******** *** ************* emailed (************ *** ****** maintenance *******) ******** ** a ****** ***** ****** testing.
  • ****** ******************: * ****** ***** for **** ******** *** the ****** ** * VMS ************ ******* ***** streaming *** ********* ********, replacing *** ****** ** any ***** *****, **** when ********* **** ***-********* camera ******.

Manufacturer ********** ******

** *** ********* ******, we ****** **** *** scoring ** **** *********, citing ******** ******** ** each ** ********* ******** or ******.

********

******** ****** ******** ** 5 ********, *** ******* in *** ********* *.

*****

***** ****** ******** ** 1 ********, ****** ****** and *********, *** ****** poorly ** ****** ****** Info, ****** ***** ******* and ****** *********** *******.

*****

***** ****** ******* ** 6 **********, *** *** not ***** ******** ** any. **** ****** ****** in **** ** ****** Cameras, ******** **********, *** Camera *********** *******.

*******

******* ****** ******** ** 6 **********, *** ******* in *, *** ****** poorly ** ****** *********.

*********

********* ****** ******* ** 6 **********, *** *** not ***** ******** ** any. **** ****** ****** in ****** ****** ****, Camera ***** ******* *** Camera *********** *******.

*********

********* ****** ******** ** Camera *********** ******* *** Camera ****** *** *********, however **** ****** ******* or ****** ** *** remaining **********.

******* ***** / ******

******* ***** *** ****** scored ******** ** * categories, *** **** ****** in ******** **********, ****** Replacement ******* *** ****** Reboot *** ********* **** their ******* *******.

Camera ********* ******* *** *****

* ** *** ***** scored ******* ** ****** in *** ******** ** Camera *********, **** ******* Security ****** ******* ******. The ******** *** ****** Discovery *** ********* * list ** ********* *******, both *****-***** *** ***********, without ******** ************* ***** and *******. ***** ** seconds ** ***** *** cameras ** ***** ********** in *** ****.

** ******* ** * strong **** ****** *** Avigilon's ********* *********. ** soon ** *** "******* / ********** *******" **** is ******** ** ******** and ******* ******* ******* from ******** *************, **** direct ****** *** ***** supported *******:

** ******* ** *** only **** **** ****** was *******'* **** ********** scanner. ** ******** ******** steps ** ****** ************(*), scanning *******, *** **** searches * ****** ************ at * ****, ***** taking * ****** ** more *** *********:

Network ***** ************* ******* ****** ********** ******

*** ** *** ******** of ******** ****** *** camera ****** *** ************** is **** ***** ******* individual ****** ** ** created *** ***** ****** as ** ** ***** to * ******. **** statistics **** ******** *********** ****** ******* alerts** ******** *********.

* ******** *** **** is *** *** *** to ************* ****** * default ***** **** ******** the ******* ************* ******* when ***** *** ****** issues, *** ***** ***** to ********* ** ****** the ***** ** *********. The **** *** ** this **** **** ******* the ***** ************* ** Network ***** / ******, however, ******** *** ********* allow * ****** ***** to ** *** ** that ************* ******** *** cameras **** **** *** added ** *** ******.

** ******* ** * good **** *****, ******* Optix ************* ******* ** alert *** ****** ********** issues:

Camera ****** ***********

* ** *** ***** scored ******* ** ****** in ****** ****** **** category ** ********* * current ****** **** ** every ******, *** ** the **** ** ******* scoring, ** ********* ***** health ****** ******* *** health ****** ** ******** during * ****** **** frame.

** ******* ** * strong **** ***** ** Genetec's ****** ****** **** with *** ***** *** report ********** **********:

Firmware ********** *******

*** ******** *** * strong ****** ** ******** Management *** ***** **** to ****** * **** or ****** ** *** cameras *** ******* ******** versions, *** *** ******* to ****** ******** ************'* camera ******** ******* *** VMS. **** ********, *****, Genetec *** ********* **** able ** ****** * report ** ****** ******** versions, *** **** ******* is **** ** ****** camera ******** ** ******** manufacturer's *******.

** ******* ** * strong **** ***** ** Genetec's ******** ********** ****, which ******** ****** *** charts ** ******** ********:

Bulk ****** *******

**** ***** *** ***** supported **** ****** ** cameras ***** * ***-********** CSV ****. ***** ******** a ************ ******** ** fill **, ******* ***** does *** ******* *** template ** *** ****** menu, *** *** **** instructions ** *** ***** formatting ** ***** ***********:

Cameras **** ******** ** **********

** *********** ******* ************ for ********* ** ******* camera **** * *** camera *** **** ***** in * ***** ********* sold ** *** ********** space ***** **** ****** count ******* *** ********** more ******* ****** *********** volume.

No ********** ** ******* ***** / ******

**** ******* ***** *** Hanwha's **** *** **** tested ** **** ********, but ******** ** *** categories ****** *** ****** Management, ***** **** ** features ** ****** *************** between *** * ****** applications.

VMS ******** ******

  • ******** ******* ****** *.**
  • ***** ***** *** *.**.*
  • ***** ****** *.*.*.******
  • ******* ******** ****** *.****
  • ********* ****-****
  • ****** **** *.*.*.***
  • ********* ******** ********* **** R2
  • ******* ***** ********* ****** 3.2.0.208

Comments (41)

Great evaluation!

"bulk import of cameras using a pre-configured CSV file"

Milestone can do this, but it's not a documented feature; third-party developers have created tools to do this with Milestone's SDK and there's tools Milestone has developed internally that are accessible to integrators and users. It's completely understandable that this kind of evaluation wouldn't know about them, though. 

Thanks for the input, can you email me the information on that to sean@ipvm.com?

Edit: also to be clear, I contacted each manufacturer's support team about limitations we found, to get input and clarification. I have found that sometimes these types of undocumented features are not even documented with tech support.

I can't comment on a third-party that has developed a tool for importing hardware from CSV as I haven't heard of it myself, but I have written and shared a config import/export tool which is a command-line tool built using our SDK with a number of features including

- Export basic information about recording servers, hardware, camera/mic/io devices to CSV

- Import some updated settings for devices from CSV

- Import new hardware devices from CSV

- Migrate cameras from a Milestone server running the old code base to a newer Export/Corporate or "plus" server

- Update camera passwords in bulk

It's not maintained as a part of our core products though, so it's certainly fair in my opinion to mark the product down in that area compared to products that include it as a native feature today.

Can't blame you for wanting to make sure the availability of doing a bulk import is known, but my opinion would still be if it's a feature or tool not documented and not officially supported, it shouldn't count.

Absolutely understandable. Just getting the information out there. 

As an additional note related to Milestone Camera Management, we have been talking to developers of an add-on product, which was designed to help end users add and manage cameras on Milestone. The company is called The Boring Lab, it is a supported Milestone integration, we have not tested its capabilities.

Thank you for the shout out Sean! The Boring Toolbox elegantly handles many of the bulk operations administrators need to efficiently manage medium to large Milestone XProtect installations. Here are some of the operations we support:

- Template generated device groups, so no need to curate device groups based on model or storage configuration

- Bulk rename hardware and devices

- Bulk update passwords in Milestone. We also currently support synchronizing the new passwords to physical Axis devices.

- Bulk enable/disable hardware and devices

- Bulk change resolution, frame rate, codec regardless of device driver (BETA Feature)

- Quickly create beautiful reports with all hardware, camera device, stream information in Excel and even include credentials and camera snapshots

We just went GA in November and have some cool things planned for Q1 2019 but we are open to feature suggestions.

If anyone would like to see the app let me know, happy to show it to whomever is interested.

Do you plan on doing this evaluation on a consistent bi-annual (at least) basis? Features are added all the time with VMS and doing this report in another 6 months will even out rankings.

doing this report in another 6 months will even out rankings.

What? :)

We could easily re-release such reports every 6 months but I seriously doubt the ranking will 'even out' in 6 months. That said, surely some manufacturers will make some improvements over time.

What I recommend is contact us (i.e., Sean sean@ipvm.com) and let him know what has changed and we will update the report immediately rather waiting 6 months, etc.

So that was the disturbance in the Force I felt today, a hundred VMS manufacturers crying out in terror and agony as the IPVM VMS shootout came out.

For the Camera Disconnect alerts, Milestone allows you to setup a single event that can notify on disconnects and will include any new cameras that are added as well.  This can be done via Rules or Alarms or both depending on what you want to trigger.  There is a built-in group called "All Cameras".

Below are screenshots of the option in Alarms and then in Rules.

 

Thanks for the clarification Jared, I missed that because I selected a Preconfigured Hardware Event which only allows individual device selection, not All Camera selection:

Thanks again for the input!

This is the part of Milestone that aggravates me sometimes. There should be more of these types of "Rules" started out of the box. Or more examples of rules that can be modified.

I was wondering if you have ever tested Wavestore? Is there a possibility that it will be tested in the very near future and compared to Avigilon, Genetec and Milestone? I am trying to decide on a VMS that we can offer to our clients moving forward. We have used Mobotix MxControlCenter  and now MxManagementCenter for our Mobotix projects and Axis Camera Station for the Axis projects but are looking at the possibility of a true VMS for multiple site and larger projects. Also have you done or planning to do any testing on Mobotix Management Center and Axis camera station? Thanks for the shootouts as they are a great resource and IPVM in my opinion is an extremely valuable site for integrators like us. 

Sean,

We have not tested Wavestore. It has been many years since we tested Mobotix and Axis VMSes.

I don't think we will test any of them in the near future. Our focus right now is deeper tests on the most broadly used VMSes (i.e., this ongoing shootout series) so I don't want to set unrealistic expectations about if or when we are going to test those other VMSes.

In terms of individual VMS tests, we are looking for things that are new (e.g., Milestone's spinout Arcules is planned for a test report next month, whenever Salient finally releases their new VMS, etc.).

We are happy to be pitched the benefits of other VMSes as well as informed when major new releases come out as that could impact our prioritization.

You mentioned that you can save default or favorite credentials in Nx but you didn’t show how. I would love to find that nugget. 

Sorry John, I had to rewatch the video and can confirm that I misspoke in that section (hence why I didn't show how).

Thanks for another great report! I'm sure that a lot of us are wondering how/why these manufacturers were selected over others - my favorite (OnSSI's Ocularis) was not included. It's obviously impossible to test everyone but your selection criteria might be interesting as there feels like simply being selected for a bake-off is a tacit endorsements of sorts. 

Jack, thanks for your first comment.

your selection criteria might be interesting as there feels like simply being selected for a bake-off is a tacit endorsements of sorts.

It is primarily an endorsement of market size. Dahua and Hikvision, obvious. Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec and Milestone are large VMS players. The one most debatable is the one we just added Network Optix / Hanwha. Network Optix is clearly nowhere as big as the others but Hanwha (one of their OEMs) is big and that was our reason for adding.

We can't pick everyone so the thinking is to pick the companies that are most widely used.

That said, as we do more of these and do second go arounds (like VMS Camera Management Shootout 2019 or 2020), it should be easier for us to add more companies (since we have a baseline, we know better what to look for, etc.). Of course, there will still be more debates even if we expand 10 or 12 or 14 VMSes.

Btw, 5 years ago we would have included OnSSI. OnSSI has had some serious challenges  since (e.g., losing the Milestone breakup). 

Update: OnSSI has reached out to us and we are working on an updated post.

Video Insight being added to the list would be appreciated. Or at least why it is not included.  Selection on market share only?

Video Insight is definitely in a group of manufacturers that could reasonably make a case of being 'next' or fit it. 

From integrator surveys and general inquiries we see less of Panasonic / Video Insight these days, which I attribute to Panasonic's overall relative decline in the last few years.

From integrator surveys and general inquiries we see less of Panasonic / Video Insight these days, which I attribute to Panasonic's overall relative decline in the last few years.

Panasonic has had some difficulty capitalizing on VI for a variety of reasons from my perspective:

1. Lack of enterprise features in VI.

2. Giving the product away for free with the purchase of their cameras results in very poor perception.  It's like an AOL CD.

3. Somehow support is included for free as well.

4. Insistence on maintaining legacy infrastructure and bringing into the product line - e.g. ASM-970, NVRs, etc.  While those ties to the past allow for fairly easy repeat business it also ties a shackle to legacy equipment.  Bringing failing 10 year-old matrix switchers into a customer's "new" VMS system results in disappointment no matter the cost savings.

5. Lack of development due to the above items.

6. I also believe a lack of education of existing dealers and regional sales staff of the advantages of a VMS have hurt the conversion rate.

Giving the product away for free with the purchase of their cameras results in very poor perception. It's like an AOL CD.

Lol, ouch.

Btw, we've tested Video Insight before and it is a good VMS - Panasonic Video Insight VMS Tested

So, what you are saying is that, the Exacq software, which costs me MORE, and I am required to pay for upgrades, is not nearly as good as the no charge, zero cost for upgrades Hanwha VMS? 

 

For the purposes of this shootout, we are strictly comparing the VMS's Camera Management capabilities. There are many other variables to consider (live viewing, exporting, 3rd party integrations, mobile apps, network security, user administration, mapping, etc), which we will be continuing to test in upcoming shootouts.

I think that was a nice way of saying a dealer or user should draw their own conclusions about what they should or should not have. :)

This is a great test. As always, thank you.

Will this be expanded upon over time?

Would be nice to see viewer/client ease of use scores and mobile app performance.

Security of off-site access/port forwarding requirements. 

Linking multiple systems across a campus.

Performance/resource usage of pc running client when displaying 20-30 (or more) cams?

Maybe speed/ease of searching recorded video? Exporting recorded video & file size optimization.

Integrated motion detection performance vs what's built into the best/most common cams?

List of analytics compatibility?

Storage management, ease of seeing which cams are using the most HDD space to find "problem children"

Haha, didn't see Sean's reply ... sorry for redundancy.

great article, but, ivms4200 and smart PSS definetely has some shortcomings for sure, but there are 3 distinguishing factors as to why they arent really a VMS:

#1) Its free
#2) Its proprietary to their own cameras
#3) Its a CMS

When I think VMS, i think recording software. This isnt really what Smart PSS and iVMS4200 was designed for. 


Nonetheless, they could make some improvements based on your findings.

Sean, we could technically call this 'Recorder Shootout' or 'VMS / NVR Shootout'. The reason why we include this is that Dahua and Hikvision, as you know, are such a common alternative to 'VMS software' in the SMB so it is important to understand how close or far they are in capabilities.

Sean,

Great Review! Thank you :)

 

Just wanted to mention an oversight with NX Optix.

You "can" reboot the camera in the settings.

 

Thanks #4 I will reflect that in the report.

Is Optix the same product as Hanwha WAVE VMS?

Yes Mostly... The Hanwha wave has more features for their cameras built in.

Yes.  Neither Hanwha nor Digital Watchdog develop their own VMS.  They are both OEMs (in one way or the other) of Network Optix.

Great test! OnSSI / Seetec is missing. It would be interesting to see OnSSI / Seetec in comparison with Genetec, Milestone, etc.

I'm really baffled how you can do a comparison and not include comparison on price of each of these :(

This is a good report as far as it goes. You also need to rate on a bang for your buck.

Give a numerical rating on performance and divide by a cost per camera for 4 8 16 and 32 cameras. I'd say that was the common installation price breaks.

That might not give an optimised result as each install will have some unique challenges. But the figures would be interesting. Don't forget to include those ongoing costs.

 

Firmware management support: I'm guessing the 1-dot VMS's simply don't support it, but Genetec scored "strongly" in this category. I was just wondering if Genetec supports firmware update on all camera types, or just on on a smaller number of brands (which)?

The single dot VMSes do not support firmware updating or alerting of outdated/known vulnerable firmware versions. 2-dot scoring VMSes supported updates for same-manufacturer cameras, but no third-party camera updating.

Genetec does not support firmware update on all cameras. We were able to update Axis, Bosch, and Hanwha cameras during the test, however, Hikvision, Dahua, and Avigilon were not supported. I emailed Genetec to get additional details of which camera manufacturers are officially supported.

Related to known vulnerable firmware versions, as noted in our report from 2017 (Genetec Now Detects Insecure Camera Firmware):

Genetec stated that firmware updates for all partners are currently supported, and noted that they get more accurate information for the following manufacturers:

  • Arecont
  • Axis
  • Bosch
  • Hanwha
  • Hikvision
  • Panasonic
  • Pelco
  • Sony
  • Vivotek

We confirmed the alert/detection with known vulnerable versions of Axis and Bosch.

Thanks,

Supporting all partners is genuinely an impressive feat, and not something I would have expected - the logistics involved strikes me decidedly non-trivial. Kudos to Genetec for pulling this off.

If the others do not support this (or provide poor support for it), it suggests that there's not a lot of pull in the market for this functionality - or do people just use other bulk firmware updating mechanisms?

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