What to Look for in Video Management Software

Beyond the GUI, ways to differentiate between products

Typically, integration with POS and other business systems must be customized using a video management software development kit (SDK). Most leading products have SDKs that can be used by software developers to search and pull live or recorded video from the system to be tied with transactions.

Integration of video with POS exceptions is proven to reduce shrinkage as a loss prevention tool. For example, Milestone's XProtect product is integrated with the ERP system Navision from Microsoft Business Solutions to provide a loss prevention tool for the IKEA pilot store in the Netherlands .

Preserving Capital Investment

When you're retrofitting existing analog or DVR systems to NVR systems, it is often important to leverage the existing infrastructure of analog fixed and PTZ cameras. Most software products will control legacy PTZs through network encoders. The level of PTZ protocol support varies widely across software products, making it necessary to determine if a particular software product will support the PTZ cameras at your facility.

Some security directors prefer to maintain the existing CCTV keyboard and monitor interfaces for their security guards. Genetec's Omnicast is one of the few systems that will use network decoders to accept CCTV keyboard input and route compressed video to analog monitors.

Money, Money, Money

Most video management software products are licensed by the number of camera inputs. List prices range from $250 to $1,000 per camera, with a median list price of $350 per camera. Smaller systems with reduced functionality and scale are available at lower prices.

Ultimately, the best video management software is the product that best fits your needs and budget. Once you know how the system will be used, do your homework and ask tough questions about how well the software meets your operational model and integrates with your existing surveillance system, IT infrastructure, third-party systems and choices for network cameras and encoders.

Tom Galvin of NetVideo Consulting (www.netvideoconsulting.com) is a video management software specialist who provides product evaluations and training programs focused on IP video solutions. Mr. Galvin recently published a competitive study of open-architecture video management software products.