Some 300 security industry professionals, SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION among them, gathered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for the 2012 Milestone Integration Platform Symposium (MIPS) Feb. 13-14 to address the current state, growth and opportunities of IP video surveillance. Hosted by Milestone, a market-leading provider of open platform video management solutions (VMS), systems integrators spent two days learning about the Danish firm’s new products and enhanced feature sets, overall marketplace trends, browsing the wares of more than 30 exhibiting technology integration providers, and networking and socializing against the backdrop one of Florida’s most famous beaches.
“Surveillance is about so much more than security,” said Milestone President and CEO Lars Thinggaard as he welcomed attendees. Thinggaard was referring to the power of video to enhance and improve an enterprise’s operational efficiencies, a theme recurrent throughout the symposium, which this year was titled “Grow With Milestone.” He also stressed how the company, which is celebrating its 14th anniversary in 2012, spent $11 million (one-fifth of the firm’s revenue) on R&D in 2011 and is determined to remain an industry leader. “We must and will continue to invest in R&D even in critical times,” he said. Using the recent financial woes of Kodak as an example, he added, “We must not rest on our laurels.” Milestone’s revenues have leaped from $3 million in 2001 to $50 million in 2011.
Thinggaard identified five “megatrends” playing a part in the adoption and penetration of networked video surveillance. He said all of these factors — economy, China, politics, climate and technology — appear favorable for expanding the total surveillance market as well as supplanting analog systems. Although the changeover to IP video (currently about a third of the market) from analog has not occurred as quickly as many had projected, Thinngaard sourced IMS as the segment topping $8.6 billion by 2015. He also said he believes it is finally time for the robust growth at the higher end of market to begin flowing down to the mid and lower levels. There was one vertical market he was particularly keen on. “I expect city surveillance to grow a lot, maybe even beyond present projections,” he said.
From there, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Eric Fullerton and Vice President of Product Management & Marketing Christian Bohn unveiled a couple of new Milestone offerings, as well as updates of existing products and a roadmap of what is planned the next few years. With an online audience also tuning in for a live simulcast, the pair discussed Milestone’s Smart Client 7.0 and XProtect Corporate 5.0 releases.
Among other features, Fullerton highlighted Smart Client’s new timeline to ease navigation; easier export capability with a higher level of secure encryption; alarm manager; and streamlined user interface. In pointing out XProtect Corporate’s virtues, Bohn touched on its multistreaming; system monitor; edge storage; higher security; and extended integration facets. Both products are due to begin shipping on March 28. Bohn created an additional buzz among attendees when he announced the summer would see the release of a free XProtect Mobile app for Apple’s iOS. Previously, there had only been Android support. According to Bohn, a top area of near-term focus for Milestone will be optimizing mobile and Web clients.
One of the most interesting presentations was offered by Milestone Vice President of Field Sales for the Americas Manual Nylen. He talked about what a strong year 2011 was for the VMS firm, with 33% revenue growth for the period in the U.S. with both channel partners and customers increasing by 25%. He also noted that the business experienced 150% growth in Latin America for 2011, and Milestone is projecting a 50% upswing in 2012 for the combined Americas market.
Nylen addressed the challenges of selling IP video solutions, saying “software sales are more conceptual than hardware.” He also talked about strategically approaching those sales according to the specific needs of vertical markets. According to Nylen, some of the leading verticals for Milestone in 2011 were education (29% of business), government (18%), national accounts (14%), city surveillance (11%) and retail (8%). Nylen said critical infrastructure and city surveillance grew 665% in 2011. He said integrators need to take a consultative stance with end users, who are more amenable to a “show me” as opposed to “tell me” posture. Nylen told attendees how Milestone assists its integrator partners with lead generation, helping to close projects and developing their businesses.
Also part of MIPS 2012 were a number of presentations from end users (case studies) and Milestone integration partners. The latter included keynotes from Axis Communications Founder and Director Martin Gren, and Sony Electronics General Manager, Security Systems Division Mark Collett. Smaller breakout sessions also included Iomnis Surveillance, Hewlett-Packard, Arecont Vision and Razberi Technologies.
Gren, a pioneer instrumental in introducing the IP camera to security some 15 years ago, opened by explaining how Axis and Milestone are both structured in a way that promises their long-term success as well as that of their “ecosystem” partners. Returning to the Kodak failure mentioned by Thinggaard at MIPS’ outset, Gren pointed out that the film giant was not undone by failing to keep up with the times as digital cameras overtook the marketplace, but rather having an antequated business model. That is, Kodak was built around a sales and distribution model rather than focusing on its core compentencies as a manufacturer. Axis and Milestone, by contrast, sell through distribution to integrators and never direct, which according to Gren means they can place more emphasis on continuously improving their solutions.
Turning to the overall market for network video, Gren said he expects to see a $25 billion industry by 2020 when analog video is all but vanquished. To help get there he said the push now is not so much on higher definition or megapixel images but rather better image clarity that more closely matches the impressive capabilities of the human eye and beyond. Along with that is the emphasis on making images as usable as possible for a given security or operational purpose. Specifically, Gren sees a huge upside for thermal imaging, saying “today, one in 400 network cameras are thermal. That will become one in 50.” He also lauded video analytics as a “big opportunity,” but lamented its slow development and that “patent trolls may block the industry.” The latter comment referring to highly publicized legal action taken by a high profile analytics firm.
Furthermore, Gren spoke out enthusiascally about cloud-based video solutions and the software as a service (SaaS) model. He shared an integrator comment, “We can do five installs a day with hosted video surveillance versus just one or two full-blown systems.” Gren added that encoders are a “forgotten opportunity” as a means to help end users migrate legacy analog systems toward network video solutions. Other trends he covered included flash storage dropping down to $1.50 per GB now and moving closer to replacing hard drives as a primary storage medium, and mobile bandwidth rising and transforming the use of streaming video. Finally, Gren shot down HDcctv as a viable alternative to IP Video due to the need for higher end coaxial cable and costly DVRs, and he said he expects HDTV (1,080p) to remain the “bread and butter standard for high definition video surveillance for quite some time.”
Having joined Sony in August 2010, Collett launched his session by explaing his background as well as the business’ transition away from a product-centric focus to one targeting solutions and partnering, a la Milestone. Calling upon his experience in the IT world, Collett likened IP video’s trajectory in the security space to that of companies during the dotcom craze of the late-1990s — slower than expected, an evolution rather than revolution, but ultimately nevertheless inevitable. In other words, tales of analog video’s demise were premature and grossly exagerated.
It was upon that foundation that Collett explained Sony’s emphasis on cameras that support both analog and IP that enable end users to transition at their own pace with hybrid solutions. He said research shows 60-80% of end users’ costs to switch to IP video are in existing control rooms, cabling infrastuctures and retraining staff, which is inhibiting rapid adoption of the newer technology. Therefore, he sees hybrid solutions as a monumental opportunity for integrators and the bridge to IP video’s future.
That future, according to Fullerton, will thrive in large part thanks to open platforms such as that with Milestone has encouraged so many to embrace and build upon. He told the audience, “Don’t allow your customers to caught in proprietary jail. Open platform IP video pushes the power of choice to the end user.” Fullerton concluded by saying how positioning surveillance as an operational tool rather than just security can help integrators overcome margin squeeze, and how imagination is the only limitation for video.
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