The year 2020 will be remembered as a year in which lives all over the world changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Milestone, however, still met its development schedule and released two software updates during the COVID lockdown period.
For Bjørn Skou Eilertsen, CTO of Milestone Systems, this was due to the inspiring way in which the company’s people pulled together from their remote locations and made it happen. He says it is a clear indication of the strength of the team Milestone has built and the culture of the company.
The company also made the leap into cloud-based solutions by launching XProtect on AWS, Amazon’s cloud service (https://www.securitysa.com/10828r). This may seem a conflict of interest considering the company was involved in launching Arcules, a cloud-first VSAAS (video surveillance-as-a-service) provider, the previous year (https://www.securitysa.com/9443a). However, Eilertsen says there is no conflict, simply an additional way for Milestone to serve its market better in a world where different customers want different solutions, and they all want it quickly.
An XProtect for every occasion
Eilertsen explains there are various options end users can choose from when selecting the Milestone platform of their choice. The traditional XProtect solutions are still available from partners as systems installed on servers on the customer’s premises, with the various licensing options available. Another approach is for partners to host XProtect servers for their customers and offer additional services as an integrated package.
Then there is the ‘pure cloud’ solution from Arcules that enables users to get a surveillance system up and running in many locations very quickly. This solution does not include all the enterprise features of XProtect to ensure it runs efficiently as a cloud-only system.
In the future, Eilertsen expects to see more integration between Arcules and XProtect, allowing organisations to have a full management platform with all its functionality, while being able to use Arcules cloud services to get multiple locations connected and monitored with ease. The integration of these systems into a ‘single pane of glass’ will provide additional scope for partners to add value to their clients.
Then, as mentioned, XProtect on AWS was also launched. Eilertsen notes this is a full XProtect solution, not a streamlined cloud solution, even though it runs in the cloud. It encompassed some tricky negotiations, but the result is a full Milestone XProtect solution based in the cloud. Customers are able to use their existing licences, called Bring Your Own Licence (BYOL), and set the system up in minutes. This even applies to the free 8-camera licence for XProtect. For new installations, licences will be available from existing Milestone partners.
Eilertsen states that BYOL was initiated to ensure partners are not left out of the opportunities cloud services provide (as noted, licences and services are still bought via the Milestone channel). Even though AWS makes it simple to install and get your XProtect up and running, it is simple while not being so simple. Milestone made sure its global partners had the opportunity to learn how AWS works before releasing this option.
Cybersecurity, trust and the edge
Looking ahead, Eilertsen says there are a few things Milestone will be working on in the coming year or two. The one is a FIPS-compliant version of XProtect for certain locations. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to ensure computer security and interoperability. Find out more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Information_Processing_Standards (short URL: www.securitysa.com/*fips2) or https://www.nist.gov/itl/publications-0/federal-information-processing-standards-fips (short URL: www.securitysa.com/*fips). This more secure version of XProtect will run on customers’ premises.
The company will also be improving its GDPR compliance to include edge and hybrid installations. At the same time, we should expect to see significant efforts in the area of cybersecurity as the company endeavours to ensure it is a safe choice for all customers. Cybersecurity is all the more important as companies’ data stores and sources are distributed broadly, be it in a cloud and/or at the edge.
The key here is trust. In a volatile world, whether it is COVID-19 or cyber criminals, he says the winners are those who can develop a trust relationship with partners and customers. This is an extension of the company’s adoption of the principles of the Copenhagen Letter (https://copenhagenletter.org/) and Milestone’s commitment to the responsible use of its technology.
Looking further out, Eilertsen also sees XProtect collecting more non-video data as edge devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) expands. The key here will not simply be collecting data, but the ability to analyse it to provide useful information that enhances security, but also optimises business processes.
This will mean a significant change in how partners do business as well as a change in how systems from different vendors integrate and share data. Over the next few years we will see integration becoming more important than ever, providing new opportunities for integrators to offer added value when it comes to managing and dissecting large amounts of customer data. He expects to see more than 50% of the connections to XProtect coming from non-video sources in the next few years.
The future will be all about adding value. Eilertsen explains that given the brief trends summary above, there is enormous scope for channel partners to not only maintain their businesses, but to grow them. Even as more things in the tech world become easier, more things also become more complex. Resellers and integrators should focus on expanding their portfolios to be able to offer additional data-based services (security focused or not) that can be integrated to collect and analyse data to deliver more value to their clients by optimising their business processes.
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