The continued impact of IP on the security world is well known and well broadcast throughout the known world. The reason for the clear messages being put into the market is that the IP world is simply better at marketing than the traditional analogue companies who, to be honest, had a comfortable existence for a long time.
The reality, even with the recession in mind, is that IP is growing much faster than analogue. In a recent round-table held by Hi-Tech Security Solutions, the general feeling was that, in the surveillance market at least, the majority of new projects were overwhelmingly for IP solutions. Analogue solutions, it seems, is being chosen for maintenance and upgrades of existing systems, but only rarely for new installations.
Analogue systems have been around for years and will still be with us for many more years, but the consensus is that its days are numbered. It will not be long before IP systems do away with the last advantage of analogue, cost. In fact, some manufacturers claim they are already on par.
Many analogue manufacturers are fighting back. For example we have the HDcctv alliance looking to bring high-definition to the analogue world (see www.highdefcctv.org). This may extend this technology’s lifespan, but ultimately it is unlikely to be the salvation these manufacturers want. Of course, it all depends on the roll out and implementation of the technology over the next year or two.
We expect some serious mergers and buyouts globally as analogue vendors realise they need to up their game for the new world of IP. In the convergence world, the slogan may as well be ‘Go IP or go home’.
So where is IP?
With IFSEC SA and the new IP Expo coming up in the second half of this year. Hi-Tech Security Solutions wanted to find out just where the industry stands with respect to convergence, be it the integration of IP and analogue or the total replacement of analogue. We decided to ask a few local industry players for their input.
Bertus Van Jaarsveld, CEO of Miro Distribution believes “IP knowledge is becoming more important as most technologies are converging to an IP platform. Traditional CCTV installers face losing business to specialist IT companies if they do not skill up. Even traditionally analogue technologies, such as DVR, now offer IP connectivity at various levels and the installer needs IP knowledge and skills to enable their customers and users to get maximum benefit from their technology purchases.”
Local consultant, Rob Anderson, says IP has become very important in the security industry. “It is possibly only in the CCTV sector that the [IP/analogue] debate still continues. This is due to the additional costs of IP and the bad results from badly designed networks in CCTV.”
Gary Egan, senior technical consultant for C3 simply states, “IP is the networking technology of choice in the security industry for integrated scalable solutions. Remote connectivity, application connectivity and new camera technologies utilising POE (Power over Ethernet) are all becoming more relevant within the security industry as it moves away from analogue.”
Backing this up, Van Jaarsveld notes that Miro “experienced higher than 50% growth in our IP camera portfolio for the past 12 months and the trend should continue for the next 24 to 36 months.”
Miro may not be the best company to ask as it primarily supplies IP products “as we believe it is the future for the industry,” Van Jaarsveld adds. “Our history in telephony taught us that eventually everything will end up on IP as that is where the development is and costs are constantly being driven down. We only supply limited analogue products for very special applications such as covert cameras or thermals, and then immediately convert them to IP anyway.”
Anderson confirms the CCTV market often still relies on analogue solutions because of the price of IP. The cost of ownership of IP-only solutions is still high and in many instances simply installing the correct analogue systems correctly provides all the surveillance solutions companies require.
While many security purchases are made on price alone, effective solutions that do the job the customer requires have multiple success factors. Users of IP solutions must look beyond price at the additional benefits the technology can deliver. For example, C3’s Egan says the benefits of going to IP include:
* Scalability, an IP solution, installed and specified correctly can scale well beyond analogue.
* The ability to manipulate video streams from the GUI interface to any output, be that screen, storage or operator is another big advantage.
* Analogue units also come in fixed units, such as 16 channels on a DVR whereas IP systems are licence based, so adding additional cameras etc, is a software addition taking minutes rather than a complete new unit.
Van Jaarsveld adds that if companies compare on price alone, they would probably make a business case to install an analogue system. “We find that IP is a clear winner as soon as you start looking at the entire package. Probably the largest benefit of IP cameras is the transmission medium, it is easily incorporated into your existing network infrastructure and it is the availability of cost-effective, high-performance and reliable wireless networking that makes it very attractive. Cameras can be installed and monitored over long distances through licence-exempt wireless links. On top of this you have the added intelligence and features of an IP system, not to mention a future-proof investment.”
Who is the boss?
There are many reasons to go the IP route, however, the same marketing that gets everyone to talk about IP as if it rules the world also impacts on clients and their perception of who is in charge of the security function in companies.
Anderson says this IP marketing drive has resulted in a trend to move security into the IT department. “These departments only understand the IP and this is often the reason for the choice of IP over analogue, when in many cases a hybrid solution would be the best choice. Unfortunately, while hybrid solutions are viable and more cost-effective, we find few people are choosing this option.”
Perhaps this is as a result of the IP-is-everything marketing we have seen over the past few years, however, hybrid solutions are starting to look more interesting to many companies. There’s nothing like a recession to make buyers look twice at the costs of an all-IP project. Van Jaarsveld believes hybrid is a good option in companies with legacy CCTV systems. “Instead of throwing out everything and switching to IP, it allows a gradual change-over.”
The invasion of IT
Talking about IP and its benefits is one thing, but for security companies to be able to offer effective solutions to clients is another. IP requires IT skills and in particular, networking skills. And while these skills can be learned, there is a hungry IT world out there with years of IP experience looking to expand its scope of operations, especially into the security world where margins are still much higher than almost any area of IT with the exception of services.
So, should the security market be taking IT as a threat?
Van Jaarsveld says IT is definitely a threat to the security industry “as we find more traditionally IT companies entering the security arena. These companies already have a relationship with the customer through maintaining their computer networks and IT infrastructure.” He says companies are starting to see telephony, access control and security video systems as an extension to their corporate IT networks.
“Security companies must develop skills in IP networking if they want to survive,” he maintains.”Getting and maintaining good IT skills is therefore very important for security companies at the moment and it will be vital to their survival in the future.”
Anderson agrees, noting that security companies need to have another tool in their toolbox. “Even more importantly, they must then be given the skills to understand which is the best tool for the occasion.”
Egan adds that IT skills are a problem in the security space, “especially when you start implementing large multi-site installations where a knowledge of IT infrastructure and technologies is important.”
He notes that with the new generation of security systems, IT (or IP) skills will be imperative. “There are not many in
the security field that understand the basics of IT networks, such as Layer 2 and Layer 3, IP addressing etc. This is a serious threat to the industry at the moment.”
The consensus is that, while analogue is not going to vanish in the next year or two, IP is the future for the security market. Ignoring this fact is a sure way to dwindling revenues and margins, and eventual extinction.
IP @ IFSEC SA
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Ross Cullingworth, commercial events director, Montgomery Africa to comment on his view of the impact of IP on the biggest security event on the continent.
“With a focus on biometrics, digital video surveillance, Web-based visitor management and ID management systems being at the forefront of security nowadays, I believe this part of the security industry will continue to evolve as we see new and improved networks evolve within South Africa.
“There is also a definite increase in customer demand for IP technologies. Customers today are a lot more sophisticated, not only in their security needs, but in the technologies that they would like to see implemented. Therefore we are seeing this transition from purely physical security to a combination of physical and IP security.
“The shift to IP-based security is a world-wide phenomenon. In fact, South Africa is probably lagging to a degree as we have not traditionally had the broadband infrastructure in place to support this move as fast as other territories. However, with the landing of several international cables and an increase in fibre network roll out, we are definitely starting to make progress in this regard. Also, with IFSEC expanding into emerging markets, such as India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, we are seeing heightened security concerns due to terrorism threats emerge and this has led to IP becoming more prominent at our shows.
“The camera market was one of the first to see this drive towards IP-based solutions, however, this is expanding across other security elements as well. We believe that we will eventually see a convergence of the two industries – IT and security – and that this will drive innovation in developing a whole range of security solutions.”
IP Expo perspective
Lizelle Christison, exhibition manager, Montgomery Africa is in charge of putting the new IP Expo together. The event will take place later this year and focuses on the three primary areas of IP growth.
“Imago Techmedia in partnership with Montgomery Africa, decided to launch IP EXPO in South Africa to highlight three specific areas of growth – IP infrastructure, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing,” Christison explains. The objective of IP EXPO is to create an environment where vendors can interact directly with enterprise end users to showcase their areas of expertise and simplify complex technology issues. It is literally a 2-day consulting experience where these end users can get answers to their technology specific questions.”
She adds that IP technology “is only beginning to impact business in South Africa. While we have a lot of legacy infrastructure, new fibre projects are absolutely critical in ensuring that we have the right backbone in place to allow for increased use of IP technology.”
Looking further ahead, Christison believes that as technologies evolve and more bandwidth becomes available, other industries will also start evolving. “Already there is a convergence between physical security and IP solutions and we believe this will become even more prevalent. We are already seeing IP-based video systems, Web-based visitor management and identity management systems and this will continue to expand.
“In my opinion, a key driver in the move from physical to IP security will be inter-operability. This will be dependent on closer relations and increased knowledge both from an IT and security perspective – there needs to be a clear understanding of how different products can be integrated to provide a solution rather than disparate systems. Incorporating IT and IP for that matter will no longer be a nice to have, but rather a necessity and the security industry will have to adopt the related IT standards and ensure that they can interface with IT systems.”
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