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Education, standards, Hi-Def and VSaaS in 2011

To me, the best part of the analogue to IP convergence cycle is the sheer amount of new technologies unleashed in a year’s time. When you live in an IP world driven by consumer technologies, innovation never sleeps.


November 16, 2011
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I guess it’s only fitting that, in the year of the tablet, I am writing an article completely on my iPad for the first time ever while in coach on a full flight to Vancouver from Toronto.

As convergence moves forward, it’s important to take time to look back so as not to get lost in innovation. The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on four hot topics we saw in 2011.

Education

I have been in the network video world now 10 years, so it often surprises me that the need for education is greater than ever. But considering convergence is only 25 per cent worldwide today, that means that 75 per cent of the market still needs quite a bit of education. 

At a recent meeting with top integrators across Canada, I asked, “What is your biggest obstacle when spec’ing IP?” The answer that came up most often was distance. Again, this goes back to the need for education because there are no distance limitations for network video. In fact, it’s with analogue video when there are distance limitations.

But aside from general IP training, the one noticeable desire for education is on how to sell IP. I have been in sales for more than 20 years and feel that selling is selling, regardless of the product – but the product and its applications must be fully understood before having success. When analyzing what people are asking for on how to sell IP, it’s actually the information to overcome IP-specific objections. Thus, I plan to cover how to overcome the most common IP surveillance objections more often in 2012.

Standards

Based on the size and number of organizations that have become members, ONVIF is the clear frontrunner of the standards “war” (full disclosure: Axis is a founding member of ONVIF). The winner was likely to be the one with the greatest number of products supporting it, and by the looks of the numbers at ASIS International – 330 members and more than 1,000 conforming devices – manufacturers have voted for ONVIF. The Security Industry Association (SIA) has also recently shown support for ONVIF.

And although end users haven’t been clamoring for standards, this progress is good news for them. Buying a network system component that is globally standards-compliant makes a better long term buy. Unlike in a closed, proprietary system, you will have more success in mixing and matching best-in-class devices as well as scaling for the future because not all components of that security solution will become obsolete at the same time.



HDTV/Megapixel

This year saw a bunch of new product announcements for much higher megapixel count cameras, which makes sense as network video innovations are driven in large part by Moore’s Law. This theory credited to Gordon Moore, co-founder at Intel, says that processing power per dollar will double every 18 months. For instance, I bought a 16GB SD-card recently for $27 – yet I remember my first 1GB card cost $100 eight years ago. So when you consider that the processing for network video is at the edge (the computer is embedded within the camera), capabilities for network cameras will increase exponentially.

HDTV 720p and 1.3MP are now mainstream. The biggest resolution improvement per dollar is the difference between D1 and/or VGA and these high-definition resolutions. One main difference between VGA (640×480) and 720p (1280 x 720) is the 720p camera has twice the pixels as the VGA camera on the horizon – so the price difference is relatively small for such a major improvement in usable resolution. If you were to jump from 5MP (2592 x 1944) to 10MP (3648 X 2752), however, the incremental change for the increase of horizontal pixels is only 41 per cent, while the price difference is more significant because the lens for the 10MP camera will cost much more than that for the 5MP camera.

Speaking of lenses, here is a cautionary note for cameras higher than 5MP: While Moore’s Law applies to the electronics of a network camera, it does not apply to lens manufacturing. Commonly produced, relatively inexpensive quality lenses exist for cameras 5MP and lower, but for higher MP, counts the lenses get very expensive compared to the camera cost. You could spend as much on the lens itself as you do on the camera.

Hosted Services

It’s been hard to ignore the numerous references to hosted services, also known as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), unless you’ve been fortunate enough to live on a desert island for the past year. Everywhere you look, whether in the security industry or elsewhere, hosted services are being discussed.  Even the world’s largest storage manufacturer (EMC) has embraced hosted video surveillance services in large part because network video storage is a major growth area for bits and bytes.

Now that the tech providers are in place, the appealing part for integrators is that they can setup recurring monthly revenue (RMR) streams.  For end users, it means never having to upgrade their software and ensures their data is being housed in the most secure data facilities while able to be accessed anytime, anywhere.

As with any new trend there is usually a lot of hype at the beginning and success typically follows. With hosted video, it seems we’re nearing the end of the hype phase, so it will be interesting to watch how widespread its adoption will be in 2012 and beyond.

Here’s to an interesting 2011 and an exciting 2012. If you have ideas for articles you’d like to see next year, please drop me a note at robert.moore@axis.com


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