Natural Selection Favours IP
by Security Electronics and Networks | @Analysis Articles | July 18, 2012, 7:00am AEST
But what really caught my attention was the assertion in the report “IP Trends in Security — A Survey of Systems Integrators and Installers” was that IT distributors and IT integrators are increasingly competing with traditional electronic security companies.
Particularly jarring was the argument that 80 per cent of North American integrators purchase IP-based video surveillance product from IT distributors and that this number will increase to 90 per cent inside 3 years.
My experience of the Australian industry is that this is not the case here and that a large number of traditional electronic security distributors have successfully made the transition to IP solutions, supporting them with great energy. Having said this, there are also a growing number of IP security distributors who might describe themselves as IT distributors.
Additionally, while we run into internal IT departments during some of the larger installations that we cover, as a rule, IT people are part of an alliance supporting an application. They are not taking responsibility for installation of devices, cable infrastructure and supporting peripherals. Instead their focus remains the network and most often this is a corralled subnet.
Something else that was interesting in the report was the argument that IT managers are increasingly having influence in networked security decisions, greater influence than that of consultants and security managers. I think that in the case of larger systems this is probably true but I see it as a positive development.
Electronic security solutions have for decades suffered from pinched budgets. Many systems I have seen over the years have been badly compromised by a lack of funding. Conversely, IT budgets are vast and churn rates on product through replacement at mean time between failure (MTBF) are vigorous. IT departments are not going to settle for cheap junk but will seek a balance between openness, performance, reliability and cost, with a tendency towards openness, performance and reliability.
The findings of the report also suggest that our distributors need to empower their IT capabilities. This is something I would argue is happening. As a case in point, on a recent visit to Pacific Communications in Sydney I was shown a large area that is going to be used specifically to extensively commission networked solutions before they are delivered. Other distributors do similar things and have done for many years.
It concerns me, given the nature of the IP-based product being released at present, its power and flexibility, that some installers still ignore digital. There’s no shred of doubt in my mind that quality IP solutions are now so capable and their performance so elevated that installing analogue devices means installing a second tier solution.
Yet I was recently talking with a capable installer friend who admitted his entire installation business had up to this point completely avoided IP solutions. If IP is too tough for established installation companies like his, it doesn’t bode well for the transition of van and ladder teams fighting their way up.
Some in the industry admit that part of the problem is the fact IP remains hard to get right. With IP there are no direct electrical paths. Instead there are networks with more or less complicated configurations and nuances.
IT networks are neural, organic solutions and making them work is never an easy task. We’ll need to feel our way forward through alliances, training, simpler IP solutions, plenty of support and an acceptance that evolutionary market forces will select those of us best equipped to survive.