In part 1 of this series I talked about how choosing the wrong type of camera for the viewing application can adversely affect the performance of your camera system. In part 2, I will discuss the importance of choosing the right Video Management Software, often times referred to as VMS for short.
Consider the VMS as the brains of the entire camera system. The software is responsible for archiving the video from the cameras and storing it on a hard drive system as well as allowing users to see both live and playback of the cameras. It is the central hub of the surveillance system so it only makes sense that this is an extremely important piece to the puzzle. So then the question is, what makes one VMS better than another?
There are two defining characteristics of a VMS system that distinguish the good VMS platform from the bad. The first characteristic is how easy the software is for you and company personnel (administrators, guards, etc…) to view live and retrieve recorded video. A good VMS platform will not only give you robust features, but will allow you to easily use them. A good rule of thumb is to remember that it may be months between instances that you want to retrieve and export those video clips. If this is a difficult process to remember or involves a lot of steps, the software is most likely one you should stay away from. A good VMS should be intuitive and have easy to remember steps to view live video, playback recorded video, and export video clips. Make sure to talk with other companies that use the software and find out what they like about it, how often they use it, and how easy it is for everyone to use.
The second important characteristic is the scalability of the VMS platform. This includes both the number of cameras that the system can accommodate as well as the frequency of software updates and feature enhancements. A good VMS system is not stagnant. It continues to evolve and add new and improved features. It also allows you to grow the system as your company grows and expands. Scalability of the software is vital. I have seen numerous systems that started with only a few cameras and then doubled, tripled and even quadrupled in size. The companies that selected the right VMS platform, from the beginning, were easily able to grow the system. This allowed them to avoid retraining of personnel and having to repurchase sometimes costly new software that fits their new system size.
Mistakes in purchasing a camera system can be costly, so taking a close look at the cameras and the VMS software in the beginning can save you not only money but time as well. Also, taking the time to talk with other companies that have similar systems is a good way to find out if your newly proposed cameras and software will perform the way you expect.