BCDVideo Chief Exec Dishes on Evolving Video Surveillance Marketplace, More
Jeff Burgess has led BCDVideo, a provider of video surveillance storage systems, since its founding in 2009. Hailing from the IT industry, find out why he experienced “culture shock” after joining the security market.
In 2009, Northbrook, Ill.-based BCDVideo introduced its “purpose-built” video surveillance storage systems to the security space. Some five years later the company marked a special milestone in the fourth quarter of 2015: It surpassed 20,000 installed systems. All told, BCDVideo says its storage servers are recording surveillance data in 40 countries and across numerous vertical market niches. We checked in with CEO Jeff Burgess to learn a little bit more about the company and tap his perspective on the marketplace.
Which market niches in particular are North American-based systems integrators finding success with BCDVideo products currently? What market forces are driving these opportunities?
That’s really the beauty of our platform. We have systems that can run four cameras and others that can run thousands. In additional to that we have environmental variances that allow for virtually any vertical market. So, for all of those reasons, we tend to refer to our solutions as “vertical agnostic.”
Health care for instance. We can provide custom warranty coverage that supports HIPAA requirements. School systems are another example. Some states recently passed new legislation regarding longer retention. It’s nice to know that our existing systems on premises are easily scalable to accept the additional retention requirements without the nightmare of having to order new systems. Provides a nice ROI to the school district.
Every vertical has its own nuance, and we can adjust to that nuance, rather than a one-solution-fits-all mentality. Because it doesn’t. Even within those verticals, again, using health care, not every hospital has the same requirements, HIPAA notwithstanding. This is where our backgrounds in building Fortune 500 systems come in. Regardless of the system size, you have to address each organization individually and work within their mode. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an enterprise class server to be built with an enterprise class mentality.
Frankly, I cannot think of a vertical that we have not been established, not with just one installation, but with hundreds.
How does BCDVideo go to market? Distribution, a dealer channel or a mix of both? Do installing security contractors need to be certified on the products?
It’s a mix of both. When we began in 2009, we did indeed start with a distribution model, along with a number of national accounts. The assumption was that distribution – with their high volume of camera and software sales – would have success in offering a recording device to go along with those sales. And while they did have some basic success, it just was not enough to fuel our growth. In fairness to them, their reps have 500,000 SKUs to sell and every manufacturer wants them to sell theirs.
So while we still have existing distribution salespeople continuing to position us within distribution, we have forged relationships with the global/nationals, as well as local integrators in various regions. Our purpose three years ago when we made the decision to go after that business directly was to make the integrators aware of who we were; where they purchased it was not the concern, just that they purchased. For a number of reasons, direct was the fastest path to success.
Do you operate a dealer program?
We do offer a channel partner program that allows for project registration, access to our engineers and joint marketing, as well as various levels of training. Saying that we don’t have a certification requirement. Every integrator is unique in their own way. Some do take advantage of our professional services and training offerings, be it in on premise or online. Most seem to rely on us, and that’s just fine with us. If we built it right, it shouldn’t need much TLC after installation, anyway. That is more the norm.
Since the company’s founding in 2009, can you briefly describe how the video surveillance marketplace has evolved in that time?
Briefly may be difficult. Bear in mind that I came from a 20-year IT background in building servers for Fortune 100 companies. Everything was newest-generation HP Proliant servers, with expedited, high-availability, same day repair time. Not response, but actual repair. Meetings with CIOs going through product lifecycles, planning evaluations of the soon-to-be-released models in order to have a seamless platform change. That required beta units in order for them to create their new images. Everything was precise.
So to go from those type of standards into the video market, I had culture shock. White-box this, white-box that, depot warranties, no definition of standards. Lots of iSCSI and niche-storage systems. Certainly not an enterprise storage market. Back then, it was still heavy analog and most of the recorders were DVRs. We started talking about I/O bandwidth way back in 2011 and the effect it has on the video images. We were among the first to standardize on some level of onsite service.
Fast forward five years, and the video storage market has certainly matured. Most of the niche storage companies are gone, as the name brand server and storage companies came after this market a few years back – HP, Dell, EMC. And, 20,000 installed servers later, I like to think us, for that matter.
When we started BCDVideo, camera resolutions were 4CIF to 1.3MP and H.264 was just coming to market. The stream sizes were small compared to the 8-megapixel to 20-megapixel cameras we are seeing today. Also, the number of cameras on a single site has skyrocketed. Back in 2008, we would typically see 16 to 32 cameras in a high school. Today, we usually see about 100 cameras in a high school. I am sure that the main reason is the cost of the IP cameras have dropped significantly in price.
So as far as the video servers back in 2008, sites only had 32 to 40 cameras now the same site will be over 100 cameras, the demands on the server has increased greatly due to the amount of cameras and the amount of bandwidth that each camera is now generating, so using a purpose-built video server over a standard IT server is more critical today more than ever.
Everything is coming full circle to enterprise-quality, yet cost-effective, scalable video storage solutions. Even at the 8-camera level. For the end customer, this is likely their second or third system. They are much savvier now and likely had some pain along the path.
Given the fast-evolving, high resolution camera technology, is the industry in need of an improved compression technology? Anything on the horizon look promising?
The new H.265 compression looks to reduce bandwidth, which will be more a significant factor on the network rather than the storage. This compression will help with streaming video over Wide Area Networks [WANs]. As it applies to the storage, the compression only reduces the bandwidth into the server, thus reducing the overall amount of storage needed per camera. I do anticipate with the new compression standard, the amount of cameras per server will increase. Thus will continue to offer a better ROI for the customer.
To what degree does BCDVideo view Big Data and the Internet of Things as market drivers for its storage products?
Big Data and IoT really have yet to make a significant impact on the surveillance market, other than marketing buzz. However, we still consider video storage as the biggest of Big Data in the future. Last year, HP invited us to their Big Data conference in Boston to speak on that very subject. More and more, the analyti
cs within the video streams are going to be analyzed to capture customer trends, patterns, and behaviors.
The retail store data is a prime example. Now you can witness the customer’s store behavior rather than number-crunching it based upon purchases. What is he doing as he is looking at your product? Is he price-shopping on his smartphone? What displays, colors or brands lure customer to various spots within the store. What is the demographic? Do you have the right brands for the market area drawn to your store? Countless uses based upon a visual pattern of behavior.
When you take into account that, at best, 5% of the available video analytics is being used to its full capability today, you will no doubt see a large upswing over the next five years. So in regard, we do see video storage as a huge driver of Big Data in the future. It’s just not there yet to its full potential.
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