A while back, we wrote a post detailing why you should wait to purchase the newest surveillance cameras. We explained that camera manufacturers were driving the security industry, leaving server and video management software (VMS) manufacturers behind. While that still stands, we failed to discuss the issues the latter two markets face in supporting the industry. So, we first want to spotlight VMS manufacturers and explain how you can choose the right VMS for your system.
What Makes Each VMS Unique?
A video management system (VMS) is the software that displays and manipulates your recorded footage. Of course, this means they’re all the same at the core—they store and present data. So then why does it matter which one you purchase for your surveillance system? Because each one offers different features and compatibility with certain camera manufacturers.
Despite what you might think, surveillance cameras are no longer just about capturing video. Today’s cameras often come with multiple sensors (such as sound and odor detection) that liken them to a live officer. But when equipped with a fully-featured VMS, these cameras can manipulate the data in ways that exceed human limitations.
Going Beyond Video
Your VMS can examine and manipulate recorded data to get as much information as possible. For example, one might have built-in analytics that allows you to count the number of people that pass by; another could have something like license plate recognition or heat mapping. There are a lot of possible different capabilities a VMS offers that go beyond simply playing or stopping footage. However, not all of them come with the same capabilities, which we discuss further below.
As we mentioned before, camera manufacturers are driving the industry while VMS and server manufacturers are struggling to keep up. Unfortunately for the VMS manufacturers, this means that not all cameras are compatible with every VMS. The problem comes from the lack of drivers, the component that lets the software and the camera communicate. Without these drivers, newer cameras cannot interact with your VMS.
VMS manufacturers are behind on providing necessary drivers because cameras are being pushed out at such a fast rate. As a result, some manufacturers have drivers for some cameras, while others have drivers for different cameras. There’s no quick fix at the moment, but we hope that in the future, camera and VMS manufacturers will work closely together so that the compatibility issue is resolved.
Choosing the Right VMS for You
It’s important that you complement your cameras with the right VMS, but how do you know which one? It simply depends on which features you need. As we mentioned earlier, all VMS are the same at the core; they only truly differ in terms of available features and drivers. While drivers will be added/updated as time goes on, features aren’t typically added without upgrading.
“Do I Want to Pay for This?”
When you purchase any software, you’re paying for every feature, regardless of whether or not you actually use them all. But when your company or agency only needs a couple of features, why pay for a VMS with all the bells and whistles? Think specifically about your goals and search for the software that best fits those needs.
Think you’ve found the right VMS for you? Tell us which one and why in the comments below!