Cisco Systems Reveals More on Entry Into Physical Security Market

SAN JOSE, Calif.

With the industry still abuzz concerning Cisco Systems’ entry into the physical security business, the marketing director for Cisco’s new physical security business unit spoke to Security Sales & Integration about the company’s plans in the electronic security industry, and how traditional security dealers and integrators figure into the tech giant’s plans. Steve Collen, marketing director for Cisco’s new Converged Secure Infrastructure Business Unit (CSIBU) that will oversee the development of physical security products , says Cisco isn’t jumping into the industry blindly.

Collen says dealers and integrators that have been fearing IT directors trying to take some of their work need not worry: He says there will be a definite need for specialized physical security installers for the foreseeable future.

“Up to this point, physical security has been a distinctly different area from network security. You’re going to have to educate the physical market on networking and educate the network market on physical security,” says Collen. “From a customer point of view, these things are coming together, but the installation of a video security system requires specialized skills. It would take a significant amount of education to change that.”

According to Collen, Cisco officials have spent the past three years researching the physical security industry, including attending several International Security Conference (ISC) and ASIS Int’l shows. Collen sees physical security as an extension of the firm’s efforts to create convergence and integration avenues for its IT security products.

“Physical security is a key growth area for us. It’s an emerging technology. It means the ability to grow in a particular market, but also to drive Cisco’s convergence business as well,” says Collen, who adds that in the process of researching the physical security industry, Cisco found that fears concerning bandwidth usage for video security might be unfounded.
“We have done fairly exhaustive analysis of video going across the network. To be honest, with the latest compression abilities, it’s not really a concern for us,” Collen adds. “Bandwidth has the ability to handle video traffic without any issues.”

Cisco Systems announced last week its plans to buy video surveillance software-maker SyPixx Networks for $51 million and use it to form the basis of its CSIBU physical security unit. Collen, who has been with Cisco for 11 years, says the main attractions that drew Cisco to SyPixx was its software’s ability to draw legacy analog video systems across a network, as well as its existing dealer network.

Cisco has a two-phase plan for its entry into the industry, using SyPixx as its base, according to Collen. Initially, the goal will be to solidify SyPixx’s existing customers and dealers, keeping the initial entry relatively low-key with an emphasis on encoders, decoders, storage and matrix capability. “We want to have a base of happy customers before we expand,” Collen says.

SyPixx’s existing structure of integrators and resellers will be integrated into Cisco’s Advance Technology Partner program and will form the basis of future workings with security dealers and integrators.

From there, Cisco will give a broader exposure to its CSIBU unit, including the possibility of further acquisitions.

“There are many more things in physical security than video security,” Collen says. “Access control would be an area we’re very interested in. We do network-based access control right now, and an extension of that is a tantalizing possibility.”

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