Many believe that the installation of a VMS is both complex and challenging. Indeed, the thought of having to install and configure video management software is enough to put many off the technology, and instead opt for a less flexible and somewhat limiting hardware-based option. However, even the more advanced VMS packages are easy to work with. Benchmark Smart Solutions looks at the installation of XProtect Corporate.
For the Benchmark Smart Solutions project, we are initially working with Milestone XProtect Corporate. The main reason for the selection was that this package, along with XProtect Expert, includes the Milestone rules engine which enables a high degree of flexibility with regard to the creation of event-based scenarios.
The important rules engine functionality is also supported by the Husky M500 Advanced and M550A appliances. These latter options are ideal for those installers and integrators who prefer a pre-loaded hardware option.
The VMS package supports multiple servers across distributed sites (XProtect Expert has similar functionality but is a single site multi-server solution). Corporate and Expert offer unlimited support for connected devices, unlimited recording servers and an unlimited number of users.
The software is compatible with Milestone’s user interfaces including XProtect Smart Client, XProtect Web Client and Milestone Mobile. Other features include failover recording servers to ensure continuity of protection, networked archiving, support for edge recording, mapping functionality, alarm management and support for a wide range of third party applications and analytics engines.
Whilst our system made use of the BCDVideo Nova server, XProtect Corporate can be run on a more modest server, dependent upon the number of cameras being supported and the data retention needs. That said, it is foolhardy to cut corners when specifying a server that will be an essential part of the entire security system.
Unless you are opting for a pre-loaded Husky appliance, Milestone Systems makes its software installers available for download, and all that is required to complete the installation is an appropriate licence file. If you provide a specification to BCDVideo (as we did) they will include the appropriate installation files on the server.
Loading the software
The actual installation is very straightforward. The first thing you’ll have to do is identify the license file, and then the installation can commence. The next option is to identify whether the system elements are installed on a single server or multiple servers. With this done, the installation will begin.
The installer checks the server and if there are any issues which require rectification they are flagged up at this point. The explanations are in plain English, which makes them easier to resolve. For example, in the past we’ve seen issues such as a missing system font (which was required for menus), an instruction to update the .NET framework and on this occasion an instruction to load the IIS 6 Compatibility Module. These issues are simple server management tasks and outside of the remit of the VMS.
The process does take a bit of time, but once finalised the software configuration can commence. There are two main elements to the VMS for the installer and integrator. The first is the Management Client.
This is where the system configurations are made, along with the addition of devices. The second is the Smart Client. In effect, this is the user interface and is designed to simplify control of the VMS once it is up and running.
The two elements have a slightly different look. The Management Client is more complex and has something of an ‘industrial’ feel. The Smart Client is more modern, sleek and almost minimalist is comparison. During set-up the Management Client is where most time will be spent.
The Management Client is based around a tree structure which is simple to follow. The first element is ‘Basics’ and includes site information and license information.
This is followed by ‘Remote Connect Services’ which incorporates Axis One-Click Camera Connections. These can be deployed if the system utilises an Axis secure tunnel server.
The ‘Servers’ tabs allow the recording servers and failover recording servers to be managed. Servers need to be running and authorised, which is a simple process. It is via the recording server that hardware is added, rather than the ‘Devices’ menus which follow. These are used to manage attached devices. There are sections for cameras, audio devices, metadata engines and inputs/outputs.
The next section is ‘Client’ and handles display settings. This is where Smart Walls are created, and viewing options such as groups, client settings and matrix elements are configured.
The ‘Rules and Events’ menus cover the higher end event management options. These include the creation of rules as well as the configuration of time and notification profiles. Other configurable elements include generic events, analytics events and user-definable events. Based upon AND/OR logic, these menus allow the VMS to exploit the extended functionality of attached devices to create advanced scenarios. Whilst such approaches sometimes require coding knowledge to write Macros, the XProtect rules engine makes use of drop-down menus and clickable links. This ensures that installers and integrators can realise the potential on offer with ease.
The ‘Security’ tab allows the management of users and security levels. This ensures that operators, administrators and engineers are carefully managed.
The ‘System Dashboard’ screens give a real-time overview of the system’s performance. It is a vital tool when troubleshooting, and also plays a valuable role when assessing available resources and system health. Installers and integrators can select criteria to generate notifications should any issues arise. The parameters can also be used to create rules. These automate responses, notifications and work flows to ensure that any critical incidents are not only reported but also acted upon. A final element of the Dashboard is the evidence lock feature. This allows flagged video and data to be retained in a secure space.
The ‘Server Log’ screens are self-explanatory.
The ‘Transact’ screen allows configuration of transaction-based recordings. Linking to systems such as POS or ATMs enables data to be stored, linked with the relevant video footage.
Finally, the ‘Alarms’ screens enable the configuration of alarm sources (internal or external), and also permit actions to be associated with specified events.
XProtect Corporate, like many VMS solutions, has a high degree of flexibility, and it’s possible to realise benefits with the software from the very start. As such, VMS represents a key element of many smart solutions. Installation is simple, and any fear of complexity is something of a misconception.