There are plenty of products and technological platforms about just now – PSIM, VSAAS, the ethereal realm of cloud, even edge solutions and very large megapixel cameras – that it could be argued are at various stages of the so-called hype cycle. In the hype cycle, products or technologies are released to great fanfare and make early headway then, as the challenges of implementing them successfully becomes widely known, sales slow before steadily increasing as early adopters find success with their systems and supporting technologies catch up. 
It’s worth pointing out that the hype cycle is not an objectively measurable phenomenon. It’s more a conceptualisation of the process a ground-breaking product goes through between its first ‘appearance’ as vapourware on the lips of marketing types with access to engineers and the time it becomes an industry icon. And as we all know, this process can take many years. 
In a cottage industry like ours, it’s possible for end users, integrators and distributors to have Beta moments in which they inadvertently select solutions that time reveals had no future. But if there’s one thing users and installers can rely on, it’s the capability of open architecture IP solutions to retain lateral, forwards and backwards compatibility with future tech and with similarly open sub systems. 
When you talk about the future of open architecture IP solutions an area of particular interest is the cloud. It’s touted as the latest thing but in truth we’ve all been using the cloud – various personal or business computing services supported on remote servers – since we first started internet banking back in 1995. I think it’s fair to say the cloud is secure and it works. 
It’s my opinion that in the electronic security industry cloud applications are going to be topical – video surveillance or event monitoring for instance – and that they’re going to depend heavily on good compression, good comms paths, compromise on image quality and frame rate and very low costs. Human nature being what it is, I think cloud-based applications will need to be too good to resist if they’re to be successful. 
There are a number of companies to watch in this area. Genetec is one, having just teamed up with Microsoft to develop a solution based on the Azure platform. There’s no doubt Genetec is one of the industry’s pioneers when it comes to IP video and in Pierre Racz it has a leader with the vision required to sacrifice short-term profit for a future market-leading position. 
Most interesting is that Genetec is not just going for video with LPR services but cloud-based access control as well. If this was a random start up you might be dismissive but it’s Genetec and it’s Microsoft and if done right and promoted successfully these companies may well invent our industry’s future.  
Microsoft and Genetec aren’t the only horses in this race. Perennial new tech-ambulance chaser HID Global is off the leash as well. Not content with having come up with potentially the biggest product of 2012 in the smart device-driven SE series of access control readers which use phones as authentication credentials, HID Global is busily rolling out Trusted Tag – an NFC-enabled cloud service that is part of what HID is cleverly calling the ‘internet of things’. 
This network will allow monitoring and authentication of everything from electronics and vehicles, to luxury items and documents which, via NFC-enabled smart phones and mobile devices, will ‘comingle’ with online assets in a pervasive cloud environment, monitoring everything. It’s not easy to immediately get one’s head around the potential of such developments but one thing is certain. One the other side of the hype cycle, our future is waiting.