The how and why of Milestone's new small business VMS

Earlier this month, Milestone Systems announced the release of XProtect Essential, a video management system (VMS) designed for small business users. The company was known already for its XProtect VMS products that could scale up to handle thousands of video surveillance cameras, but this new release was specifically targeted for small video systems using 26 or fewer cameras and five or fewer users. The release of XProtect Essential comes as more and more VMS companies are offering platforms designed for small businesses' video integration projects. caught up with Milestone's Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Eric Fullerton to talk about what the release of Essential means for his company and how the market is changing for video management systems.

Eric Fullerton, chief sales & marketing officer with Milestone SystemsIt seems that in the last year, and certainly with the launch of Essential, we have finally seen VMS systems become heavily introduced to the low-end market, why is this?

We believe that the value an IP-based solution can provide to end users in all categories is higher than traditional analog solutions and we want to offer this value to all segments of the market. We also believe that in the wake of the global financial crisis of the past few years end users will demand more than just a low price and will be looking for more current functionality in their surveillance solutions than they traditionally have done.

Clearly some of this product launch is about expanding Milestone's target markets. Is XProtect Essential designed to capture some of the traditional small DVR system market?

In Milestone Systems view no one should be forced to buy a DVR again based on budget constraints and therefore we see it as a natural thing to make the right products available to an in the right market segment. Eventually this may lead to our foot print in the market being expanded.

Will this version of your VMS be appearing on partners' NVRs as a pre-loaded software?

This is possible however no such deals have been struck as of yet.

For your resellers, how does this compare to your established VMS versions in terms of features? Is the pricing structure the only thing that is different here? Will it be easier and faster to configure than your other VMS offerings?

As this is a less-featured version than the other products we offer it will by nature be a bit simpler to install and use than our other products, however we strive towards ease of use and simplifying complexity with all our products.

What kind of price point are we looking at for XProtect Essential?

The MSRP for XProtect Essential is $49 per video channel. [Editor's note: The base license for XProtect Essential is $99.00 MSRP; that comes with two licenses.]

Will the introduction of XProtect Essential mean you can expand your reseller channel to installing firms that previously weren't doing big enough projects to involve Milestone's products?

This is certainly one opportunity we see with this product, however we believe that most channel partners will benefit from more than just one of our products in their daily business. Our market research indicates that almost all integrators sell projects in several and distinctly different market segments.

What does this mean for the continued availability of XProtect Basis Plus?

We have announced end of development for XProtect Basis Plus however this product will be available in its present release for the next 2 years.

There have been ROI studies in the past which indicated that ROI for IP systems really starts to show when you have more than 32 cameras. Now, as a top VMS firm, you're out with an IP solution designed for up to 26 cameras. Has that ROI point changed?

ROI calculations get very tricky when you get into the lower end of the market, and in this segment you seldom meet people that actually perform a true ROI calculation. Purchase decisions are most often made on what margin there is in a deal for an integrator or a VAR. With XProtect Essential we believe we are showing a product that will help channel partners make enough money on a low-end solution with IP technology that they will prefer selling this to their customers rather than a solution based on old technology that they just happen to make a good margin on. When the channel starts selling current technology to their customers, the customers will also gain more trust in the advice they get from their channel partners and become loyal to them again.