Spot AI vs. Traditional Video Management Systems: A Head-to-Head Comparison

How do traditional video management systems and Spot AI stack up? Here’s a comprehensive overview.


Sherri Bohman



As of 2021, businesses have installed over 1 billion surveillance cameras worldwide. Surveillance cameras can provide a wealth of benefits to modern businesses, but even the best surveillance cameras are only as good as the video management system (VMS) they are paired with.

Traditional video management systems solely allow business owners to collect, store, and view the video footage surveillance cameras capture, but with modern, AI-powered video management systems like Spot AI, business owners can look forward to a broad range of additional features.

In this head-to-head comparison of Spot AI versus traditional video management systems, we cover everything you need to consider when deciding which system is best for your business's surveillance and security needs.


Overview: Spot AI vs. Traditional VMS

Before diving into the differences of Spot AI and traditional VMS, let's start with an overview of both technologies.

Traditional VMS: The Early Video Surveillance Technology

A video management system (VMS) is a software-based solution used to manage and control video surveillance cameras and recordings in a security or surveillance environment. It typically involves a central server that connects to individual cameras and other recording devices, and provides users with a platform to view, manage, and analyze video footage.

The main function of a VMS is to provide a centralized management system for video surveillance, allowing users to monitor and control a large number of cameras and recordings from a single interface.

In a traditional VMS, the cameras and other recording devices are usually analog-based, and the system often requires dedicated hardware to operate, such as a Network Video Recorder (NVR). The system is typically installed on-premise and requires skilled technicians to set up and maintain.

On the other hand, modern video management systems are more advanced and flexible. They can support both analog and digital cameras and are designed to work with a wide range of devices and systems, such as cloud-based storage and mobile devices. Modern VMS solutions are often cloud-based, which means they are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection and are easier to install, maintain, and scale.

Modern VMS solutions offer advanced analytics capabilities, like facial recognition, object and people detection and tracking, people presence or absence as well as heat mapping, and vehicle idle times, which allow users to derive valuable insights (inference analysis) from video footage. They also provide real-time monitoring and alerts, which help to detect and respond to security incidents quickly.

Overall, modern VMS solutions are more intuitive, flexible, and scalable than traditional systems, and they provide better features and capabilities to meet the evolving needs of the security and surveillance industry. 

Spot AI: A Modern Approach to Video Surveillance

Spot AI takes what a VMS does and makes it infinitely more useful to businesses. For starters, Spot AI's software is cloud-based rather than on-premise. There are several advantages to having a cloud-based VMS that we'll explore in greater detail below. However, a few highlights include:

  • Scalability: With the user experience component of the VMS in the cloud and the edge computing component co-located to the data on-prem, Spot AI’s VMS offers greater scalability on both on-prem as well as on the cloud, as they can be easily scaled up or down depending on the number of cameras, and storage requirements. This makes it easier for businesses to adapt to changing surveillance needs and reduce costs.
  • Accessibility: A cloud-based VMS is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing users to monitor and manage their surveillance system remotely. This is particularly useful for businesses with multiple locations or remote workers.
  • Cost-effectiveness: A hybrid cloud-based VMS eliminates the need for expensive hardware and maintenance, as the system is hosted and managed by the service provider. This makes it a more cost-effective solution for businesses, as they do not need to invest in expensive hardware or hire IT staff to manage the system.
  • Security: Cloud-based VMS solutions often offer advanced security features, such as multi-factor authentication and encryption, which help to protect against cyber threats and unauthorized access. These features may be more difficult to implement with an on-premise only VMS. Security certifications such as HIPAA and SOC 2 Type 2 are periodically confirmed to meet ongoing compliance.
  • Flexibility: Cloud-based VMS solutions offer greater flexibility in terms of integration with other systems, such as access control, environmental sensors and alarm systems. This allows businesses to create a more comprehensive security solution that meets their specific needs. With correlated data and a unified view, combined in an intuitive user experience provided under a single pane of glass.


The biggest differentiator between Spot AI and traditional VMS systems is the technology that powers them. 

Traditional VMS: NVR/DVR Recorders

The technology in traditional VMS systems was impressive for its time, but, today, many business owners will find it a little lacking. Traditional VMS systems work by using either a digital video recorder (DVR) or a network video recorder (NVR). 

A DVR works to convert analog footage into a digital format, while NVRs work to encode and process footage at the camera before sending it to the recorder for storage and viewing. DVRs connect to analog camera systems via a coaxial cable, and NVRs connect to IP camera systems via either an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection.

Both traditional NVR and DVR VMS systems lack the video analysis features in more modern, AI-powered VMS systems such as Spot AI. Along with limited features, another drawback of traditional NVR and DVR systems is that cameras and DVRs/NVRs are often not interoperable. This means that you’ll have a limited number of choices when choosing cameras and recorders that are compatible with one another.

Spot AI: Advanced IVR

Spot AI builds on VMS technology, allowing business owners to build an AI camera system that includes modern, easy-to-use software, a powerful intelligent video recorder (IVR), and the ability to use any camera you choose. With Spot AI you can use your existing surveillance cameras, purchase surveillance cameras from any vendor, or use the high-quality cameras that Spot AI provides at no extra charge.

Spot AI's innovative IVR system builds on and modernizes NVR technology to provide advanced AI capabilities, which offers numerous benefits for businesses. This starts with plug-and-play flexibility that allows you to set up your surveillance system in a matter of minutes and makes scaling that system just as simple. 

Spot AI's IVR system also allows you to automatically save extracted meaningful insights from the live footage to the cloud, monitor camera health for improved maintenance, and instantly access live or recorded footage from Spot AI's modern, AI-powered dashboard.

On the topic of AI, Spot AI's artificial intelligence features are arguably the system's most impressive technology. With Spot AI's advanced video analysis features, business owners can leverage powerful AI and machine learning algorithms to automatically analyze video footage as it is captured. 

From identifying trends in customer behavior for improved merchandising to creating customized, real-time alerts for security incidents, this ability to extract data from video footage instantly and automatically unlocks a limitless number of advantageous capabilities.

Installation and Implementation

Installing a new surveillance system can sometimes be a tedious task — especially if you choose a difficult-to-use system or one that isn't backed by high-quality support.

Traditional VMS: Lots of Hardware And Complicated To Configure

The installation process for traditional VMS systems depends on the exact type of system you are installing. Systems that use a DVR will require you to run coaxial cables from your DVR to each of your surveillance cameras, which can become a huge project as the number of cameras in your system grows. Even systems that utilize an NVR capable of connecting to cameras via Wi-Fi are often difficult and time-consuming to configure.

Spot AI: Plug-and-Play Configuration

Spot AI is designed to make the installation and implementation process as quick and easy as possible. If you already have surveillance cameras in place, Spot AI's camera-agnostic system means you can use your existing cameras without having to install any new hardware. 

As for the software itself, Spot AI is a plug-and-play system, meaning it’s ready to go right out of the box. Spot AI also provides an auto-discovery feature called ‘Spot genius’ that allows easy configuration of new cameras connected to the same network switch as the IVR. And last but certainly not least, Spot AI's industry-leading customer support and onboarding services ensure any issues that you encounter during the installation/implementation process are quickly and expertly resolved.

Learn more about ease of implementing our AI Camera System in an upcoming webinar.


While there's no getting around these maintenance requirements and potential hardware issues, no matter which video management system you choose, there is one big reason why Spot AI makes hardware maintenance much easier than traditional VMS systems.

Traditional VMS: Difficult Diagnostics

From surveillance cameras to recorders to coaxial/ethernet cables, traditional VMS systems require a lot of hardware to function correctly — which creates the potential for a lot of hardware malfunctions. But the biggest drawback of traditional VMS systems when it comes to camera and device maintenance is that, without an expert, there's no way to know what issues your cameras are experiencing or what maintenance is needed.

Spot AI: Helpful Camera Health Alerts

Maintenance is needed for any hardware, but Spot AI makes camera maintenance extremely easy. 

Spot AI allows you to monitor all hardware and camera health in real time from a single dashboard. With Spot AI's out-of-the-box alerts, you'll be able to address hardware issues and maintenance requirements as they happen and before they have the chance to turn into more serious issues. And because Spot AI is cloud based, you can manage, monitor, and configure cameras remotely!

Spot AI also provides robust post-sales support, including dedicated U.S.-based account management and support and a 100% hardware warranty.


Software is the beating heart of video management systems and can make or break your experience with the system. 

Traditional VMS: Limited Functionality

The software in traditional VMS systems is usually limited to software designed for storing and viewing captured footage. But even for this purpose the software in outdated VMS systems can still be clunky and difficult to use. Some traditional VMS systems offer the ability to tag video footage with metadata so that it is more easily searchable, but that's about the extent of the video intelligence features you can expect from a traditional VMS.

Spot AI: Modern, Feature-Rich Software

Spot AI features modern software that is both user-friendly and feature-rich. The Spot AI dashboard centralizes footage across locations in one convenient place, and it offers several features:

  • Advanced AI video analysis
  • Ability to search footage without having to manually enter metadata
  • Camera health monitoring
  • Role-based access

Data Storage and Footage Management

Storing and managing captured footage is the primary function of a video management system. But how your footage is stored ultimately has a big impact on how easy it is to access and manage. 

Traditional VMS: On-Premise Storage and Manual Footage Management

Traditional VMS systems store captured footage on-premise, allowing users to access the footage via a connected computer. This storage solution works fine for many business owners but does come with a couple of key drawbacks. 

For one, a lack of data redundancy means that you are at risk of permanently losing your stored footage in the event of a disaster unless the footage is backed up manually on a routine basis. 

The second major drawback of traditional VMS systems when it comes to footage management is that they don't provide any AI tools for speeding up the search process. This means that retrieving historical footage with a traditional VMS often requires a lot of searching and manual labor.

Spot AI: Cloud Storage and AI-powered Footage Management

Spot AI stores captured footage both on-premise and on the cloud. This allows authorized users to access live and historical footage from any device and any location. And thanks to cybersecurity features such as data encryption and access controls, you never have to worry about someone accessing your video footage without authorization. 

Spot AI also makes footage management much easier and less time-consuming via AI-powered search features that allow you to search raw footage based on time, events, and other keywords.


As a business grows and expands to new locations, its surveillance system needs to scale as well. With traditional VMS systems, this can often be challenging. Spot AI, however, is an infinitely scalable solution.

Traditional VMS: Costly and Complicated To Scale

Going back to the fact that traditional VMS systems are often difficult to install and configure, adding new cameras to a traditional VMS system requires you to complete all of that legwork all over again. 

Traditional VMS systems also tend to require multiple logins across different locations, further straining the time and resources of your IT department as your surveillance system scales.

Spot AI: Infinite Scalability

Spot AI IVRs are horizontally scalable, allowing for the easy addition of new cameras. This means that as long as the business connects cameras to the same network switch as the IVR, Spot AI's auto-discovery feature will identify new cameras appearing on the network for quick and simple configuration. As a camera-agnostic solution, Spot AI also improves scalability by removing the limits on both the type and number of cameras that you are able to use.


Installing a surveillance system can often be a costly project. In fact, the average cost of a surveillance system is $125-$450 per camera installed. Cost is therefore another important factor to consider when comparing Spot AI with traditional VMS systems.

Traditional VMS: Variable Costs Depending on the System You Choose

On-premise VMS solutions require dedicated hardware, such as servers and storage devices, to be purchased and installed. This hardware can be expensive, especially for larger surveillance systems, and requires ongoing maintenance and upgrades.

Spot AI: Flexible Pricing and Free Cameras

Whereas traditional VMS is difficult to maintain and requires expensive IT resources, Spot AI's maintenance is simple. Because our software is cloud-based, customers get automatic upgrades, bug fixes, and maintenance which results in reduced cost over time.

Spot AI's pricing is based on the number of camera feeds, days of storage, and license term, with options to pay upfront, annually, or monthly. Along with an advanced IVR recorder and all of Spot AI's powerful software features, Spot AI also includes as many high-quality IP cameras as you need at no extra charge.

Elevate Your Video Security System With Spot AI

Traditional VMS systems are clunky and outdated. But, with Spot AI, businesses can leverage powerful, modern software that will turn your business's surveillance cameras into some of its most insightful tools. If you are interested in learning more about how Spot AI is revolutionizing video surveillance, be sure to check out all of Spot AI's cutting-edge video intelligence features.

Learn more about Spot AI today!

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