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Axis approves first Canadian dealer for AVHS service

An Ontario company has been named the first Axis Video Hosting System (AVHS) dealer in Canada and has its sights set on the small and medium business segment.


September 14, 2011
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

Barrie, Ont.-based PerceptiV has been in business for less than a year and was created to capitalize on the current wave of interest in “cloud computing” — a model where services reside on the Internet, reducing end-user reliance on maintaining, storing and troubleshooting equipment and software on site.

“Cloud services were coming down from enterprise level,” explains David Edward, who manages strategy and brand planning for the company and also bought in as an investor. “We saw the opportunity for the whole SME sector — how cloud services and the benefits of cloud can be made available to much smaller businesses. The more we studied the security market, it became clear to us that the one end of the business, which is data storage, was going to become heavily commoditized, just like every other category.”

The AVHS service allows end users to view live security surveillance footage online without having to worry about data storage, which is all managed offsite. In PerceptiV’s case, the video is hosted in a downtown Toronto co-location facility — a secure data centre in an unassuming but heavily guarded building on Front Street.

The company president is Harry Missal, who worked as a vice-president at Hamilton, Ont.-based AATEL Communications Inc. for more than a decade before starting up PerceptiV.

“This is all very new. It evolved out of Harry’s vision for the video security business. He’s been in that business for a long time. . . . He knows the video space very well,” said Edward.

PerceptiV’s business model is to sell its services to Axis dealers, who will in turn sell them to end users. The service can be rebranded as needed, effectively making PerceptiV invisible to the end user. The service may be accessed via a secure portal; the benefit to the dealer is that it provides a source of recurring monthly revenue.

“The dealer will buy the portal from us, then they will sell the camera and add the suite of services to that camera. The end user then goes through the dealer site into our site, and he activates those services. We bill back through the dealer. In terms of what the dealer wants to charge for those services, that will be up to him or her,” says Edward.

Storage is just a small part of the equation. Edward says the value proposition will come from adding security services on top of storage and surveillance.

“You can be monitoring or staying in touch with those things that are important to you, whether that’s your building, your people, your prized possessions. We’re giving you the ability to monitor that from anywhere. Everything is safe, secure. It’s encrypted, so nobody else sees the data, including us,” he says.

The fact that the data is hosted within Canada provides an extra layer of protection, he says, since it’s governed by Canadian privacy regulations rather than U.S. or overseas legislation.

PerceptiV made its presence known at ISC West, held earlier this year in Las Vegas. The company is in discussions with several Axis dealers about carrying the service, but at press time had not secured anything permanent.

AVHS is new to Canada, but has been available in other parts of the world for several years. It has found a significant audience in Europe through local providers, according to Bob Moore, Canadian Country Manager for Axis Communications.

Earlier this year, Axis signed an agreement with Iomega, a division of U.S. storage giant EMC, to integrate its AVHS service into Iomega’s StorCenter network storage products. A recent press release from EMC states that: “the AVHS-enabled Iomega network storage devices, along with Axis network cameras and encoders, allow resellers and integrators to deliver world-class video surveillance capabilities to small and medium-sized customers.”

The Canadian presence is much quieter, says Moore — deliberately so. PerceptiV is the first provider in Canada and there will be a few others, “but probably not more than a few,” he says. “They’ve already been identified.”

PerceptiV’s decision to go after the SMB market through dealers is probably a wise one, says Moore. “I can’t speak for all of our partners, but the point of software-as-a-service would appeal to people with a few cameras at a single site, or companies that have several sites with a few cameras at each site.”

Moore says that Axis “carefully screens those who are going to be in this program.” Each offering has the potential to be different, since it can be customized by the individual dealer. “Some people may want to integrate it with other technologies — maybe access control.”

AVHS is an important aspect of the Axis lineup, but Moore doesn’t see it as emerging as a significantly larger portion of the company’s overall revenue. In some ways, it’s a means to an end. “We’re just looking for other ways of enhancing convergence,” he says. “We see this as another way to further the convergence of IP within the security industry. We see this as another area where it makes sense for people to choose network cameras instead of analogue cameras.”

Moore, however, has confidence in Harry Missal, calling him “one of the initial integrators who saw IP as the next wave.”