Director, Global Product Management
Tyco Security Products
As director of global product management for Tyco Security Products, Warren Brown is helping lead the company’s efforts to refocus its legacy analog brand to a provider of IP-based solutions. The recently launched Illustra camera series and victor, a video management solution (VMS), mark the first two major IP products for American Dynamics since it was rolled under the Tyco umbrella six years ago. Brown discusses challenges the company faced implementing an IP video strategy and other industry matters.
What in particular was difficult about transitioning to IP products?
Our advantage of having the analog infrastructure is we have a very good understanding of how customers want to use security video. But we have an interoperability challenge that a start-up IP video company does not have. Our customers expect that every IP solution we come out with will work with every analog device we’ve ever made. That is partly why it has taken us some time to get victor, VideoEdge [NVR] and now Illustra out to market because victor had to be successful not just talking to our NVR but also our Intellex DVR. You are taking a brand new client built on the latest technology and making sure it can talk to an Intellex that came off the production line eight to 10 years ago.
It is expensive and time consuming to build those analog connections into our IP solution, but once we do it there is significant benefit for our end users in terms of giving them a smooth migration to IP. It has required buying a lot of infrastructure to have the QA [quality assurance] labs that we need to be able to test all of these things. It has required adding significant staffing, measured in hundreds of new engineers and technical folks to write the software and build the solutions.
The bigger challenge was reorienting the business in every way from how we managed a project to the skill sets of the individuals involved in that project to the testing labs we have available.
How much longer will analog sales remain strong?
IP video will continue to be fast growing and will ultimately take over the market. But we have a healthy five to 10 years of a strong analog market, globally, still to come.
Five years ago a dealer offered a DVR and some analog cameras and that was about it. Now you can offer a hybrid solution with analog and IP cameras. You can offer an NVR and all IP cameras. One customer with multiple sites might do different combinations of those at individual locations. Our focus is on helping dealers and integrators think about when to offer which solution.
Two IP standards bodies (ONVIF and PSIA) are battling for dominance. Is that a good thing for the industry?
It is a good thing. We are a board member of both groups. At the end of the day it encourages both groups to push harder and push faster to get standards defined and implemented.
But we are certainly hearing some frustration in the field right now about the initial standards. Things don’t work as well as integrators expect them to or the standards don’t cover the full range of functionality that is expected. You can buy an ONVIF- or PSIA-compliant camera and hook it up to an NVR that supports [the respective standard] only to discover they can’t do patterns or presets or full PTZ control or whatever.
My hope is that it doesn’t turn us off as an industry about standards in general. It is a growing pain. The correct focus of the standards groups has been on getting the core sharing of the video piece down and you expand out from there. It will take a few rounds to get there.