Vunetrix Surveillance Network Monitoring

By Ethan Ace, Published Sep 15, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

In this update, we will review the offerings of startup company Vunetrix, founded in 2011, exhibiting for the first time at ASIS. The Vunetrix service is a health-monitoring software tailored specifically to surveillance and security. While there are numerous network monitoring platforms used in the IT world, there are few that are specific to surveillance.

Overview

For those unfamiliar with network monitoring systems, they perform a few standard functions: pinging devices to acquire up/down status, receiving SNMP traps with more detailed messages, reporting disk space, etc. These are benefical in the surveillance market because they allow users to potentially identify problems before they reach critical status, and prevent outages, lost cameras, etc., proactively.

Vunetrix is aiming to provide these functions as a service via a managed recurring monthly revenue model, which will be resold through integrator partners. The software is implemented and maintained remotely, with the customer providing a Windows PC located on-site, and Vunetrix remotely logging in to perform installation, troubleshooting, and upgrades.

Vunetrix is tailored for the security industry in a few ways, including:

  • Camera bandwidth measurements: The system is able to display a real-time measurement of how much bandwidth the camera is utilizing, which can be used for troubleshooting network issues. Severe drops in bandwidth may also indicate loss of video signal, while a camera is still able to be pinged.
  • Recording time left on disk: Vunetrix is able to calculate estimated storage time by comparing average bandwidth usage (using actual measurements per day) and remaining space on disk. This will typically result in very accurate numbers. VMS platforms have varying degress of accuracy regarding retention time. This figure may also be used to estimate the impact of adding cameras to the system.
  • Environmental monitoring: Vunetrix also displays time and temperature readings from SNMP-enabled probes in a user's facility. This data is logged, and users can see averages, highs and lows, and set alarms. This is especially useful for data centers to monitor conditions in their racks, and healthcare customers to monitor refrigerator temperatures for compliance.
  • Simple mapping: All of the above information is contained in a map view, so operators can visually check system status and health quickly. 

Essentially, Vunetrix is capturing SNMP data that many other systems can capture, but formatting and displaying it in such a way that laymen can understand it, making it easier for end users to adopt. The Vunetrix interface is browser-based, and requires no plugins or software installation, allowing it to be used across platforms, and on Apple and other mobile devices.

 

We believe there are two types of users who would see the most benefit to the Vunetrix system:

  • Mission critical systems: Users of surveillance or other security systems who absolutely must know when their systems go down, or preferably be alerted of warning signs, would benefit from some of Vunetrix's alarm threshold and reporting features. Vunetrix could also be used as a second layer of alerting, to absolutely make sure up/down status and other conditions are indicated. The operational budgets of users such as these are generally larger, and could more easily afford the monthly charges.
  • Users of integrated security systems: While VMS systems provide camera up/down status and access management software provides up/down status of panels, using a package such as Vunetrix allows users to see all of these devices (and more) via a single user interface, and show some devices which normally would not be included, such as intrusion detection systems with IP communicators, UPS's, IP intercoms, etc. Displaying this on a single interface reduces training and response time, since operators only have one interface to learn and monitor.

Additionally, across all use cases, the ability to set thresholds before an alarm is triggered reduces the number of nuisance alarms a user may receive, instead of simply sending an alert each time a camera misses a single ping.

Analysis

Pricing is based on the number of endpoints to be monitored. It starts at 100 points (a point being a camera, server, access control panel, or other network device) for $300 per month, with 500- and 1,000-point packages available for $750 and $1,100, respectively. This pricing is approximately in line with other network monitoring solutions, though pricing tends to vary widely.

For traditional security departments, this pricing may come as somewhat of a shock, and we see this as the biggest hurdle to adoption of Vunetrix, as well as other monitoring systems. Legacy system typically were not monitored in this fashion, often because they didn't offer the capability, but also because the technology was not as capable or available. IT-centric staff, however, are more likely to see this cost as a standard operational expense, as IT departments have been deploying monitoring software regularly for years.

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