Now is the Time to Upgrade Your VMS Software

In the realm of security and video surveillance, as in other markets, “new and improved” is in demand. The latest version of any product can do more, do it better, do it easier -- and customers are conditioned to stay current with the latest technologies. Newer cameras have greater capabilities, video management systems (VMS), more functionality, and IP systems can be more easily configured, maintained and integrated.

Upgrading software increases the end-user's ability to take advantage of new technologies. The video market is full of new innovations, such as megapixel cameras, which provide more coverage per camera, can zoom-in without losing quality, and offer better identification of subjects in the video. Developments also include greater storage capacity and more signal processing included inside new network cameras.

IP cameras are also dropping in price, which enables end-users to increase their camera counts for better coverage. Additional hardware processing power increases the capabilities of systems to handle more cameras, including megapixel images. There are also new integration capabilities with a multitude of third-party intelligent systems. These developments offer better security, better awareness, better productivity and lower cost of operation. However, all of these benefits depend on having the latest software version to accommodate the newer equipment and systems.

Unfortunately, the corporate buying cycle doesn't always keep up with changing technologies. Too often, a video system may be installed and then ignored or taken for granted. Especially in the recent cost-cutting climate of many companies, there have been scant available resources to pay for the basics, such as the latest software updates and other technology enhancements to keep a video system current.

It is important to remember that the cost of the underlying VMS software makes up a relatively small percentage of the system-wide expenditure (which also includes hardware, cameras and labor, as well as ongoing maintenance.)

However, as in any software-hardware combined solution, “your system is only as good as the software that runs it.” In many cases, companies may not even be aware of all they are missing by not having the “latest and greatest.” In this case, not knowing can be costly in terms of a less efficient system and missed opportunities of new features and functionalities that are as close as the nearest software update.

Here are some ways that updating video management software to the latest version can benefit an end-user by improving a system's operation without the large investment of a new system:

Keep up with your organization's changing needs. Security and video surveillance needs can change at any organization over the course of several years. The fact is, the features that were sufficient to meet surveillance needs when a system was installed may not be sufficient now; for example, older software doesn't work with the latest camera features. It's also likely that a capability that was not available on an earlier software version, but is available now, could be helpful in meeting shifting surveillance requirements. An example would be to expand surveillance to a new part of the enterprise or to accommodate a building expansion. The security environment is especially looking to expand how it is integrated and aligned with the enterprise, such offering surveillance capabilities than can help assess staffing needs or to ensure employee compliance with corporate service standards. Newer video management software capabilities could help to better involve video surveillance with other enterprise needs, such as providing remote surveillance to ensure efficient operations. A system upgrade should be followed by a reevaluation of enterprise requirements and how the new software version could meet them.

Enhanced functionality. Newer software has more functionality and expands system capabilities. Software systems are also constantly being integrated with other third-party suppliers, offering additional functionality ranging from license plate recognition to new video storage options to point-of-sale (POS) systems. Keeping software up-to-date ensures the ability to embrace the industry's “best of the best” in a more current VMS environment.

Support for unlimited scalability. The latest software versions enable systems that can monitor a larger number of cameras and sites more efficiently, which is an important factor to ensure the future of an existing system.

More equipment choice. A software upgrade helps users maximize the benefit of their existing hardware, as well as provide support for more cameras. Using the best camera technology the industry can offer depends on having updated software systems. The latest software versions feature the widest selection of driver packs for various camera models.

Greater performance and stability. New software versions offer a wealth of performance and stability improvements, and having the latest version ensures availability of priority technical support. Easier, centralized management. Newer software offers options such as centralized user management and easier configuration and maintenance, which can lower overall system costs by saving on personnel and other resources needed to implement and maintain a system.

A better user experience. Ask the nearest iPad user how the user experience compares to yesterday's PC. Similar strides are being made to the user interface of video management software. In addition to an efficient and intuitive user interface, newer systems offer a more collaborative work environment and take advantage of efficiency factors such as event fusion, map-based navigation and new investigation tools.

Keep up with the latest Microsoft Windows capabilities. The Microsoft platform has also changed over the last several years, and using the latest VMS software ensures compatibility and optimization of the newest Windows environment.

Provide the benefits of a software upgrade plan. A software upgrade plan (SUP) is a low-cost alternative to purchasing software upgrades individually. The price of the plan includes any major or minor upgrades during the term of the plan.

Be poised to accommodate the next wave of innovation. Even more innovation is right around the corner for video management systems. Being up-to-date with the latest software version ensures an end-user will be able to leverage the next wave of capabilities, such as the ability to view high-definition (HD) video content smoothly and at full frame rates on the Internet or using mobile network systems.

There are numerous specific, quantifiable benefits of upgrading video software to the newest version. Especially if software upgrades were neglected during recent corporate austerity, they should be at the top of the list of things to do as funds become available. Your video system will be better for it.

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