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What to look for when selecting a VMS solution

What to look for when selecting a VMS solution
When selecting a VMS solution, the user often has many things to consider, for example what architecture to employ and what features to look for. This article takes a closer look at those points.
A video management system (VMS) is a critical element in video surveillance. When selecting a VMS solution, the user often has many things to consider, for example what architecture to employ and what features to look for. This article takes a closer look at those points.

On-premises vs. cloud

VMS can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, also known as video surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS). Each has its own benefits.
“On-premises systems are good for local installations, when no remote monitoring is needed, or when no broadband upstream internet is available, and the user connects remotely to view live or recorded video only from a few cameras at once. On-premises systems are the choice of medium to large companies intended to fully control their IT infrastructure, or those having a strict requirement to store video footage inside the organization,” said Alan Ataev, CEO of AxxonSoft. “VSaaS is particularly well suited to the needs of smaller businesses and non-corporate users, as well as for large companies with many sites, each of which has a moderate number of cameras and a broadband upstream Internet connection. Bandwidth limitations may be the main obstacle to using VSaaS.”
Indeed, cloud is gaining traction due to its various advantages. “Many verticals are seeing how powerful cloud VMS is (stronger infrastructure, better data protection, remote capabilities) and how other security systems can significantly benefit from being in the cloud,” said Tariq Mahmood, Sales Director for EMEA at FSS Verint Systems. “Verticals like healthcare are making the jump. Manufacturers must work with customers to identify upgrades to their infrastructure and begin the transition at their pace.”
He added: “Utilizing solutions created by VMS manufacturers that are heavily investing in the transition to the cloud will allow for more robust data protection and scalability and will empower end-users to work with outside third parties like law enforcement, insurance companies, or local court systems.”
Meanwhile, to get the best of both on-prem and cloud VMS, the user may consider a hybrid solution, which has also caught up in the world of video surveillance.
“The best solution for customers is a hybrid-cloud infrastructure, where footage is stored on the cameras, but the device is managed and accessed through a web-application. Hybrid-cloud solutions drastically simplify installations, updates, and management of devices. Customers of hybrid-cloud solutions can reap the benefits of continuous new updates to cameras and web-applications. Hybrid-cloud camera solutions are dependable, resource-lean, and simple for the end user’s convenience,” said Michele Casertano, Director of Product at Verkada.

Things to look for

Selecting a VMS should be based on the user’s own needs and requirements. Yet there are certain basic things that the user should look for during the selection process. These are discussed as follows.


One of the most important parts to consider is reliability. “Perhaps, number one priority. No one wants to find their footage inaccessible, given that video surveillance systems are often used for security needs. Reliability can be increased with a failover service that applies automatic switching to standby server(s) in case of the main server(s) failure,” Ataev said.
“Reliability is important, and from our perspective is a baseline expectation in today’s world. Not only should a VMS be reliable it should have the ability to stay up to date without user intervention. This allows ‘worry free’ usage for the customer and allows not just the highest level of cyber security, but allows patches and bug fixes to be rolled out in real time. This approach means that most systems will run smoothly and securely and will have far fewer opportunities to experience a failure,” said Tom Buckley, Co-Founder of Qumulex. “If using a cloud based solution that offers this, also choosing a solution that uses a local gateway onsite is key to additional reliability and resiliency. These systems allow continuity and availability of the system even in the event of an internet outage, and should re-sync to the cloud service once the internet is restored.”


Today’s VMSes can integrate with other security systems, from access control to fire alarms. Being open, then, is key to this.
“Having a solution that is open architecture is quite important. For starters, a customer can more easily choose to invest in a solution that has the potential to be migrated to new or different hardware making the purchasing choice easier. With so many great innovations in cameras, door controllers and other security devices, an open approach is the best way to ensure a customer has access to the best of breed solutions. With a closed solution, you are locked into only the innovation available in that ecosystem,” Buckley said.

Ease of use

The video management software should also be user-friendly and easy to use. “One of the most important things to consider. No matter how sophisticated the VMS is, it will not be efficient if it has cumbersome interface, or its most important features (like search in video footage) are hard to access,” Ataev said.
“Almost everyone is using technology of some sort these days and almost no one wants to read the instructions. The user interface must be simple, clean, and easy to use with very minimal instruction. Gone are the days that a new customer expects to attend one or more onsite training courses. All software, including VMS, should focus on ease of use,” Buckley said.


Cybersecurity continues to be an essential consideration, especially in light of the well-publicized breaches organizations have experienced over the past year.
“Physical security vendors, including VMS and storage providers, must be sure they follow cybersecurity best practices to ensure the utmost protection,” said John Rezzonico, CEO of Edge360. “Cybersecurity may not immediately come to mind when you think of a VMS platform. Hacking and malware are often considered separate from physical security devices, but the two have become intertwined as bad actors are starting to use more sophisticated and unique methods to gain access to networks, data, and assets. As more physical security devices connect through the Internet of Things (IoT), encryption and vulnerability testing are essential to ensure secure data transfer.”
“Strong cybersecurity protocols protect user data through multi-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption, whether it’s in the cloud or on-premise. These protections make hybrid solutions like Verkada ideal for regulated industries, especially those that must comply with rules such as PCI which require strict data protection protocols for footage,” Casertano said.

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