Genetec CEO Pierre Racz Rails Against Conformity, Cyber Threats During Train Ride

In an exclusive interview, the VMS leader talks business, innovation, cloud architecture, situational awareness, Asia product concerns, hacking and consolidation.

MONTREAL ― Pierre Racz is becoming an increasingly rare figure in the manufacturing ranks of the electronic security industry: an outspoken innovator who for nearly 20 years continues to lead one of the top video surveillance solution suppliers. As co-founder and CEO of Montreal-based Genetec, since 1997 he has directed the pioneering networked video management software developer to cutting-edge offerings and explosive growth. With a portfolio that today includes world-class surveillance, license plate recognition and access control solutions, the firm’s 675-strong workforce provides open-platform unified IP software, hardware and cloud-based services for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications.

I recently caught up with the tech-minded and animated Racz, with whom he has had many stimulating conversations through the years, during a train ride through frosty eastern Canada. The chat’s topics ranged from general business to technology advances to cybersecurity concerns.

What are you excited about the business right now? How are things going?

Pierre Racz: I’m excited about the growth. We had again a record year. We grew by over 35% last year, and if you take away the currency effect, it was over 28%. We’re really on a roll right now. This has been our best first quarter. Usually our first quarter is very slow for us because our business year starts in November. In November we have our sales meeting and people are distracted. Then there’s Christmas and people are distracted. It picks up in January. We’re ahead of budget for first quarter this year, which is really a good sign. Our forward indicators in terms of training and a few other forward indicators are also very positive. We think we’re taking market share but we don’t know from whom.

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What about technology, what are you excited about that’s new and coming? I know you’re a big tech guy, so what has you excited, and is there anything that has you concerned or wary?

Racz: Let’s start with what’s exciting us. We had more than 35% growth in access control, so access control is growing quite strong. That’s exciting us. One reason why we won a couple of major projects was because of our three-tiered architecture. If you look on some of our competitors they have a two-tiered architecture, where you have your servers and door controllers.

Racz raved about Genetec’s three-tiered architecture access control system.

We have our cloud link between those controllers. That lets us have intelligence on the edge that we control and we don’t have to wait for the embedded controller companies to implement. So things that we were able to implement are gen codes, gateway identification numbers. If you’ve ever seen an airport the gate agent badge in and punch a code, that’s a gen code. That will tell the access control system that they’re either embarking a plane or disembarking an international flight, in which case you have to open this corridor to passport control. Or it’s a domestic flight in which you open a different corridor that goes to baggage claim. Competitors that have a two-tier architecture that do this on the server, if your link to the server fails you’re dead in the water. Because of our three-tier architecture we’re actually much more resilient to that. The three-tier architecture also enabled us to implement virtual private elevators for the second largest courthouse in North America. That’s exciting.

The other thing that’s exciting is the cloud. We’re getting more and more large projects where customers are using our hybrid architecture to do things in the cloud. [One that was] really cool was the Special Olympics in Los Angeles. A lot of the Los Angeles facilities are already Genetec customers, and the LAPD wanted to federate all of these things to their control center. For internal political reasons they were unable to build their own federation, so they actually used our federation as a service, and they got it up at the Special Olympics. So much so that the FBI said, “How did you do this?” That was really cool, so the cloud is really cool.

Last but not least is we’ve deployed two airports in the last six months with our Mission Control. Mission Control is the latest addition on top of our software that lets you handle the situations that everything else doesn’t handle. It lets you take an undesired situation and guide it to a desired outcome. For example, an access control system will either let you in or not let you in, depending on your credentials, but what if you kick in the door? That’s an undesired situation that you have to guide to a desired outcome. What if you have a medical emergency in your airport? You have to guide that from an undesired situation to a desired outcome, and at the end of the period you want to measure how well you did. Again, let’s say you have smoke in a tunnel. Depending on where the smoke is you have to turn on a fan or another fan, and you only have about 45 seconds to react to that.

Continue reading SSI’s exclusive interview with Racz…

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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